It is time to launch the Winter Field Ecology Schedule!
We are blessed with frozen grounds, a cover of fresh snow,
and relatively mild (seasonal) temperatures.
Please remember to bundle up your child for these outings,
so that they will be happy and comfortable.
Also remember that you need to be registered as a CPS volunteer to join us on these trips. Check in at the office.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 16, 2019
4th Grade, Room 308 Mighty Acorns will travel to Sauganash
to hunt for an alien invader species: European Buckthorn.
As part of the prep, we showed the students how to identify trees in the wintertime,
without any leaves. So, students will be searching for trees with different bud and branching arrangements:
opposite (ash, maples, etc),
alternate (elms, oaks, basswoods, willows, etc)
whorled (catalpa, pines, etc)
and then the exceptions to the rule:
sub-alternate, not quite opposite, not alternate.
That is Buckthorn!
Also buckthorn has a small terminal thorn,
the cambium is orange and green, with a distinctive smell,
the female has black berries that persist through the winter,
and the young bark is smooth, becoming scaley with age.
If you come with on this trip,
maybe you could remind the kids,
or challenge them to look close at the trees and ID the bud arrangement.
At some point you will meet with me to remove this misbehaving tree
using loppers and saws.
Please join us. We meet at 9:00 by the fish tank.
Bus leaves at 9:30. Back at school by 1:00 for lunch in the classroom.
I am looking forward to reading my book,
"The Fight Between Quiet and Noise"
at the Book Cellar, 4736 North Lincoln Ave,
this Wednesday evening,
It will be local authors night
and five of us will read, and then take questions as a panel.
It is wonderful that the Book Cellar celebrates our local authors,
and invites this community discussion.
Please join us,
and remember that a portion of Quiet and Noise proceeds goes to support Waters Ecology program.
Here is a link to the event.
Books are also available from me, at school, or through my home office.
On Friday, January 18, 5th Grade, Room 207, 5th grade will visit Sauganash. Same leave and return times.
They, too, will hunt for Buckthorn to cut. But their ecology lesson was about population dynamics. In classroom we graphed white tailed deer populations in Cook County from 1800 to the present. Early on populations were relatively low and oscillated in counterpoint to mountain lion populations. Large deer populations caused lion populations to rise, reducing the deer populations which caused lion populations to decline. But starting around 1830, both deer and lion populations diminished, while human populations soared. By mid century lions were extinct (in the County). And by the turn of the century the deer also disappeared. Then in the 1920's, deers re-appeared and their numbers have increased exponentially ever since. What happened?
2 things. Around 1918, the Cook County Forest Preserves were create, protecting land and wildlife. Deer entering from surrounding counties could not be hunted. Not by lions. Not by humans.
Good for deer? Not really. Without some control on populations resources and space become scarce. Deer become sickly and often starve during winter. Deers seek out new habitat by crossing roads, with fatal results. In the spring, desperate deer devour the spring wildflowers leading to impoverished plant communities. Clearly, the ecology is out of balance. Land managers are seeking ways to control the deers. Culling to feed the hungry? Re-introducing mountain lions or wolves? What to do? That's what we will be asking the kids to think about.
The best to you,