Our Microbial Symbionts

March 16, 2015

Rob Knight's TED talk on the importance of our microbial symbionts.

Rob Knight’s TED talk on the importance of our microbial symbionts.

Sometimes I ask my students if we’re not just giant mechs for our microbial symbionts. After all, they outnumber us by about 10 to 1–in our own bodies. Rob Knight’s TED talk stokes my curiosity.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2015. Our Microbial Symbionts, Retrieved April 26th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Transit

November 13, 2013

NWI Instruments transit.

NWI Instruments transit.

This spring I was nominated by my head of school for a small, Teacher of Distinction award offered by the Independent Schools of St. Louis (ISSL). I proposed to get a survey transit that our students could use to map ecological change on campus. My outdoor group has been slowly cutting down the invasive Bradford pear saplings on the slope and I’ve been curious to see if mapping their locations would help us better understand where they’re coming from.

Measuring the distance down to the creek.

Measuring the distance down to the creek.

The transit would also be a great tool for math. Geometry, algebra, and pre-calculus classes could all benefit because surveying can require quite a bit of geometry and trigonometry.

View through the transit.

View through the transit. The middle mark on the reticule allows you to measure elevation change, while the upper and lower marks are used to measure distance. There’s a 100:1 conversion from the distance between the upper and lower marks and the distance from the transit to the measuring rod.

So, I’ve started training a few of my outdoor group in making the measurements. They’ve spent a few weeks learning how to use the transit; we only meet once a week so it goes slowly. However, we’ll start trying to put marks on paper at our next class.

Students trying out the transit.

Students trying out the transit.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Transit, Retrieved April 26th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Outdoor Cats

October 31, 2013

Outdoor cats are probably the largest anthropogenic reason for declining bird populations in North America: it’s estimated that they kill a couple billion each year. You can see the cats in action at the National Geographic and the University of Georgia’s Kitty Cams, which attaches small cameras to outdoor cats.

An injured bird via Kitty Cams.

An injured bird via Kitty Cams.

My biology class is wrapping up our section on ecology. We started by putting together a food-web of all the plants and animals that we’ve found on campus. Now we’re trying to fill in some of the missing organisms, including cats.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Outdoor Cats, Retrieved April 26th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Arkansan Spiders

October 9, 2013

The Heifer Ranch is home to quite the variety of large spiders, including the tarantulas we found a couple years ago. Most of them work hard at keeping the insect pests down. Here’s a collection of some of them we ran into this year.

A green spider from near the Heifer global village's refugee camp.

A green lynx spider from near the Heifer global village’s refugee camp.

A brown spider found in the brush on the dam.

A brown spider found in the brush on the dam.

A wolf spider with babies on its back. Found in the grass near the foot of the dam.

A wolf spider with babies on its back. Found in the grass near the foot of the dam.

Yellow garden spider found in the herb garden.

Yellow garden spider found in the herb garden.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Arkansan Spiders, Retrieved April 26th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Bobcat?

October 8, 2013

Possible bobcat tracks.

Possible bobcat tracks.

Ms. Mertz believes she found some feline tracks in the soft sediment next to the puddles in the creek that may belong to a bobcat. Or maybe a large housecat. Unlike canine tracks — like dogs and coyotes — felines don’t leave claw marks in their tracks.

The Michigan DNR has a nice comparison of bobcat to other tracks, while the Missouri Dept. of Conservation has a nice reference of common animal tracks for the state.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Bobcat?, Retrieved April 26th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Searching for Life in a Drying Creek

October 7, 2013

Looking for life in the puddles.

Looking for life in the puddles.

The puddles along the creek’s bed are getting smaller and smaller. Last week, Ms. Mertz’s class was out doing their ecological survey of the creek life lead by Ms. Currier. They still found lots of arthropods, frogs and some fish concentrated around the remaining puddles.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Searching for Life in a Drying Creek, Retrieved April 26th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Turtle

October 2, 2013

Box turtle visiting the classroom.

Box turtle visiting the classroom.

We have quite a number of box turtles on campus, but this visitor to biology class comes from Ms. M’s garden. You can tell the age by counting the rings on its shell. This guy is about 12 years old.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Turtle, Retrieved April 26th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Windows and Warblers

May 15, 2013

Unfortunately, the method of the demise of the worm-eating warbler that flew into our window appears to be more the rule than the exception. David Sibley (2010) calculates that windows are the number one, people-influenced, cause of death for birds.

Main anthropogenic causes bird mortality. Chart by David Sibley.

Notice that cats are number two on the list.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Windows and Warblers, Retrieved April 26th, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

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