Friday, September 30, 2016

A Marvelous Morning in the Garden

    During science this week, we learned that an ecosystem is a community of both living and nonliving things that work together.  We brainstormed a variety of ecosystems that exist in the world, including forest, ocean, desert, and rainforest ecosystems.  I used this discussion as an opportunity to introduce the ecosystem that exists in our own backyard, the Y.E.S. Garden.  The kids discovered that our garden community consists of many living things, such as ants, butterflies, caterpillars, and plants, as well as many nonliving things, such as soil, water, a fence, and rocks.
     Our observations in the garden led to a wonderful discussion about symbiosis.  Symbiosis is the relationship between two different living things.  These AMAZING second grade scientists discovered that symbiosis exists in our Y.E.S. Garden...both the good and the bad!  They observed several small milkweed bugs feasting on their favorite food, milkweed seeds.   The kids determined that this was an example of a bad symbiotic relationship (parasitism).  They also were able to observe an example of a positive symbiotic relationship (mutualism), as they watched a bee pollinating a sunflower.        
     Upon returning to the classroom, the kids were eager to learn more about the milkweed bugs and how these pests may be impacting the monarch population.  After doing some additional research together, we learned that the milkweed bugs have also been known to eat caterpillars and even the chrysalides.  After much discussion, the kids hypothesized that perhaps the small milkweed bugs have a negative impact on the monarch butterfly population because the milkweed plant is essential in the monarchs survival.  I think I may just have a room full of future entomologists!  I continue to be absolutely awed by their wonder and joy of learning!
     I was truly impressed with the kids' focus and enthusiasm in our first garden observation, and am thrilled with the detailed sketches and scientific thinking they included in their Science Notebooks.

      A bee pollinating a sunflower.                            Small milkweed bugs on a milkweed plant.

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