The School’s Campus

April 24, 2013

The diverse ecosystems on the TFS campus — from the creek to the grassy school grounds to the reforesting slope to the forested ridge — are well shown in this sketch. Diagram by C.J. (used with permission).

I think that one of the reasons I really like this diagram is because it places the school as a small piece in a much larger ecological context. A student in my Environmental Science class drew it for an assignment. We’d hiked all the way from the creek to the ridge in the company of Scott Woodbury from the Shaw Nature Center, and I asked them to draw a diagram showing the different ecological regions. I’d expected top down maps, which is what almost all the other students did. When I asked why the perspective view, she said just didn’t know how to draw trees from the top down.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. The School's Campus, Retrieved April 21st, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Call of Duty Poem

May 24, 2011

I encourage my students to write what they know.

Bullets flying past my face,
After the enemy like a chase.
Grenades landing right beside me,
I’ve now deployed my RC-XD.
Staying camouflaged on my hands and knees,

A silenced weapon keeps me stealthy,
Kill the enemy, with my Valkyrie.
Dolphin dive onto the ground,
My magazine is almost out of rounds.
I get shot with a pistol,
In the back of the head.
My teammate tries to revive me,
But it’s too late, I’m already dead.

— Harrison Hill

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2011. Call of Duty Poem, Retrieved April 21st, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

On Rabbit Digestion

December 14, 2010

Figure 1. Undigested fiber from rabbit fecal pellets.

One of my favorite things is when my students teach me something I didn’t know. One of those things is that rabbits eat their own poop.

Well not exactly. According to Dana Krempels, from the University of Miami, rabbit fecal pellets (poop) are different from the other type of droppings that lagomorphs actually eat, which are called cecotropes (Kempels, 2010; Rabbits: The Mystery of Poop). Cecotropes apparently have lots of helpful bacteria and nutrients. Rabbits that don’t get to eat them tend to suffer from malnutrition.

Figure 2. Rabbit fecal pellets, with one mostly dissected, in a standard petri dish.

Independent Research Project

For her Independent Research Project (IRP) this term, one of my students researched rabbits, and, as was required, tried to find them on our nature trail. She found indirect evidence. Small fecal pellets in the grassy area next to the trail’s exit, just where her research said they might be (which was quite nice). The pellets were brought inside, dissected, and examined under the microscope (see Figures 1 and 2).

The magnified image showed what appeared to be a partially masticated (chewed) piece of fiber, probably grass. This is where I was informed about the double eating called cecotrophy. My student hypothesized that this sample might be something that had not been fully digested and the rabbit would come back and eat it another time.

The Scientific Process

I really like the scientific process that went into this project, even though I’m not sure I agree with the final hypothesis. The project started with background research that yielded a plan for field observation. The field observation resulted in samples being collected and returned to the lab for analysis. The analysis produced some interesting, enigmatic results, which lead to a proposed hypothesis that integrated the observations based on the original background research.

The only things I would like to add to this type of IRP is to have students include a detailed scientific sketch, much like the sketches of the early botanists and naturalists. I really like how these drawings integrate acute observation and artistic interpretation.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2010. On Rabbit Digestion, Retrieved April 21st, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Norse pyre

October 30, 2010

Farewell It's a Fish

One of our fish has died. With permission, I’ll let Sage Beasley, the main instigator of the fish tank explain (she does it much more elegantly than I could):

A few weeks ago one of our fish died. Its name was It’s A Fish. I liked the fish. I had gotten him for a Natural world experiment and when we were done with it I put him in a tank at school with the other fish It’s A Whale. It’s A Whale is still alive and healthy. We found a religion for [It’s A Fish] (he’s Norse) and followed their ritual to send the fish into the next life. We put it in a paper boat with vegetable oil and set it on fire. We have released the fish’s spirit to where ever it goes next.
– Sage Beasley (2010), in the Middle School Newsletter.

I’ll just note that every middle school should have a sandbox/watertable.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2010. Norse pyre, Retrieved April 21st, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

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