Xylem STEM Support Services
The kids brought home a sheet to talk about all of these kinds of insects. Today we learned about the insects that help our garden and the insects that hurt our garden. We learned about Insects like the Praying Mantis, which can eat the harmful insects and occasionally eat our pollinators. The favorite insect of the day was tomato hornworms, the blight of any tomato grower.
We learned some vocabulary: Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Today we added amazing art to our STEM lessons- full STEAM ahead! First we learned about the life cycle of various insects, and discussed complete and incomplete metamorphases.
Then, we put our art skills to the test and made beautiful jewelry to represent the different stages of the life cycles. We made both necklaces and bracelets.
We learned new vocabulary as well:
Incomplete Metamorphosis, Egg, Nymph, Adult; Complete Metamorphosis, Egg, Larvae, Pupa, and Adult.
Then we went outside and made trellises for our pea plants!
In Garden club on October 2, we ate like bugs! We began the day by looking at the pea plants that had been brought in by various gardeners. Several of the plants had outgrown their miniature trellises in the two weeks since they were planted. We even got lucky and found that the seeds we planted in the beds germinated and grew!
After watering our plants, we reviewed the four mouthpieces of insects and then got to practice eating like each. The children used their hands to make mandibles and then eat a fruit roll-up.
They pierced the "skin" of an animal and drank the blood like a mosquito [ most agreed that liquid jello is yummy]
They used party blowers as proboscis to get pollen from flowers.
They used dried sponge cake to simulate a fly's mouthpiece and then "spit" water onto the sugar to make it possible for the spongecake to pick up the sugar. I think it is safe to say they will not want flies on their food any time soon.
The week of September 18 we talked about peas! We started the day by using celery sticks to eat hummus made with English peas and mint. We discussed how peas grow and talked about the fact that they need a little help to stand tall and grow well.
Then our junior engineers were given popsicle sticks, coffee stirrers, rubber bands and bread ties to design
their own trellises. Peas were planted and the mini garden bed sent home over the break in hopes that they would bring back young pea plants for our garden beds after break. If you were gone over break or if your pea plants did not sprout, DO NOT FEAR. We also planted outside ( due to lack of staff to water, those were also doomed). I started several dozen at my house as well and we will plant again outside on the second of October. As you know, the life of the gardener is filled with learning opportunities and the children will get to eat peas this fall I am sure.
This week we had quiz....just kidding, we had the children review what they knew about symmetry by making their own bug snack! Graham crackers, sunflower butter, raisins, chocolate chips and mini m&ms and they all got A's!
Next on the agenda was to do some work to figure out the characteristics of a bug. We looked at over 50 examples to showcase the features of an insect and the kids did so well that by the end and the quiz, I wasn't able to fool any of them! Ask them if they can tell you what the characteristics are.
Three part bodies Three pairs of jointed legs Compound Eyes
Exoskeleton One Pair of Antennae
An Insect CAN also have ( but not always):
Two Wings or Four Wings True Eye
This week we welcomed our gardeners with a lively discussion about insects!
According to the Smithsonian Institute, there are between 100 and 400 million insects in an acre of land in parts of North America. We we challenged the students to tell us why we don't necessarily notice them EVERYWHERE when there are so many of them.
Their answer of course was...Camouflage! The students had the opportunity to create their own camouflaged insects and then the hunt began. They had a fantastic time and learned a lot too!
Vocabulary covered this week:
This year we will have the opportunity to garden at the K-2 Campus and we are really excited! This move will allow us to continue to garden outdoors while our main campus is under renovation.
This fall, in addition to growing outside we will also be studying and learning more about insects! We will learn about their life cycles, their importance in our ecosystem, their physiology, how to tell the difference between a good bug and a bad bug, and we will even have the opportunity to learn how and what they eat.
We will begin our fall session on September 4 and will meet until December 4, with our feast being held on December 11.
Last week we planted seeds for our spring garden and now we wait. We are hoping that the extreme cold won't throw off our spring schedule. This week we will be looking at various fertilizers and seeing the differences between organic and synthetic and also between various application methods. Hopefully your children will be able to come home and teach you asomething about the subject. Also this week and on the subject of fertilizers, the fifth graders will be randomly assigned one side or the other of a debate about fertilizer use on a farm. We are hoping that they will take a little time at home to prepare the arguments for their side. They will present their debate topics on February 13.
We will begin our shortened session at King Springs Elementary next week! This session will focus on ecology and environmental horticulture. We will be holding a debate about an ecology issue, dying cloth with natural dyes, feeding our feathered friends and much more. We look forward to having your child join us!
Starting in August, Xylem will be working the after school program at two schools. We will still be active at King Springs but we will be bringing our program to Smyrna Elementary. Starting this Fall, we will be teaching King Springs students about soil and watering, and Smyrna Elementary students about seeds and parts of the plants. The curriculum we use consists of 6 enriching topics that will be cycled through both schools so that the young gardeners can learn all of the steps to starting and maintaining a vegetable garden.
The dates for the King Springs program are as follows:
August 15, 22
September 5, 12, 19
October 3, 10, 24, 31
We will have our Celebratory Feast on November 14. Parents are welcomed to this culmination event where their children will discuss what they learned and receive awards.
The dates for Smyrna Elementary have yet to be determined.
We offer support services to further Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics ( STEM) learning in Smyrna, Georgia schools. We sponsor after-school gardening programs and provide STEM educational training and networking opportunities for teachers.