Seasonal Phenology Focus Study–Fall

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    Kristin Joivell

    In this after school study, 61 students with 11 parent and faculty volunteers gathered together in November 2017. After learning about tree phenophase identification through a short training presentation, students worked in small groups led by parent and faculty volunteers to collect phenophase data about 4 different species of trees on our school campus.

    After a short discussion about their findings, students rotated through 4 stations expanding on the changes trees go through during the fall season.

    At one of the four stations, the students created leaf rubbings of 4 different species of oak tree leaves.  Students learned about marcescence which is the retention of dead plant organs that normally are shed since oak trees are marcescent trees.

    At another of the four stations, students made leaf handkerchief art with paint and leaves from a large variety of species of tree leaves, both marcent and non-marcescent.  The students learned that these pieces of art could be used as a record of the tree leaves for this fall.

    At another of the four stations, students examined tree trunk cuttings to investigate the rings and turn them into tree time record necklaces to wear.  Students learned about the way that events in the life of a tree can be examined by looking at the tree ring pattern, including the age of the tree.  Students learned that counting the rings on a tree cookie can tell you how old the tree was when it was cut down. Additionally, students learned that the width and shape of the ring can help scientists know information about how the tree grew during that year.

    At another of the four stations, students decorated leaf cookies with icing veins for a snack and sipped sugar maple sap for a drink.  Students examined real tree leaves to identify the veins and learned about their function in the life of a tree.  Students were surprised by the taste of the sugar maple sap since many are more used to the synthetic maple syrup products.

    During this event, by collecting data about the trees and learning about the phenophase of leaf color change created an awareness of phenology among the group.  Additionally, students were able to expand their knowledge of the trees that they are seeing going through leaf color changes during fall through the four stations.  By creating an awareness of phenology, I hope to be able to encourage careful observation as students notice other seasonal changes as they explore outside.

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