It feels so wonderful to have the sun shining on your skin! You can feel the warmth as the sun is rising higher in the sky. Good time of year to talk about how the sunlight levels vary with the season. In this lesson, students will learn how the sun’s position in the sky affects the size, shape, and location of their shadows: Light and Shadows
You can also tackle daylight savings time and how and why it came to be, maybe take a poll on if the students like it or not.
You tube on daylight savings time
12 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Daylight Saving Time
Coming home from the cities I noticed that flocks of geese dotted the air. Yes even though they will have to deal with frozen lakes they are coming home for spring! This I take as a very positive sign. 32 degrees below zero on March 3rd, is just mind boggling.
Geese ask your students where they went for the winter and what kind of problems would they encounter on the way? Most students can tell you that monarch go to mexico and hummingbirds travel 1000's of miles but very little about the migration travels of robins, blue jays, geese, ducks, and other species that they can readily identify. Challenge them to find the answers.
Migratory Mapping.pdf from Project Flying Wild is a great activity for looking at migration as well as Projects Wild'sMigration Barriers
Great website with Migration information from the Chipper Woods Bird Observatory: Migrating Geese
As the temperatures warm it is again time to try and connect your students with the outdoors.
One indoor activity that I like that gets kids motivated is Fishy Deep Freeze it is a game that looks at what is happening to population of fish under the ice. It introduces concepts of overwintering, metabolism, plankton, aeration, and the role of photosynthesis. This is done with stations representing the months of the year and tokens of life, your students that ice fish will thrive in this game and it gives a segway for them to talk about something that is important to them. Recommended grade is 6-7th grades, have adapted to high school with the addition of more background material and research on there part.
Again like so manyof my favorite winter activities it comes from the book Below Zero by the Candian Wildlfe Federation. Fishy Deep Freeze.pdf
Outdoor activities abound but students favorite is always Animal Antics. This lesson is about survival in the snow. the students create a protected place for their critter(jello) to wait out a storm with out freezing. Z2-Jello - Animal Antics.pdf
Direct from Edutopia
The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games are right around the corner (they
start Feb. 7), and students likely are getting excited to watch Team
USA compete. Although just about every subject can incorporate the
Olympics in some way, this resource roundup focuses primarily on the
STEM subjects. Here are some of our favorite STEM resources that
incorporate the Winter Olympics.
- Science and Engineering of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games:
NBC Learn, in partnership with the National Science Foundation, has
produced these 10 extremely interesting videos that explain the science
behind different winter sports. For instance, students might find “Shaun
White & The Engineering of the Half Pipe” particularly engaging,
plus there are videos covering the science of ice and snow, bobsledding,
and much more. In 2010, NBC Learn and the NSF also produced the Science of the Winter Olympic Games, another useful resource.
- Winter Olympics - Science & Sport:
Hey, this resource from Montana State University was produced in 1998
for the Nagano games -- but the science lessons are still relevant for
teachers and students. In fact, this package was an inspiration for NBC
Learn’s Winter Olympics learning resources. Here teachers will find
interactive courses covering the physics of ice skating and the luge, as
well as activities for learning about sports nutrition and physiology.
Printable worksheets are available, making this a great old school (in
Internet time) learning resource.
The Physics and Other Science Behind Winter Olympic Sports: The New York Times
Learning Network produced these multimedia-rich lessons for the 2010
Olympic Winter Games -- but they’re great for the 2014 Sochi Games. Here
you’ll find two tailored lessons covering a couple of the laws of
physics, with links to relevant Times content and other resources.
Winter Olympic Math from Scholastic: This resource from Scholastic
features six unique math games for students in grades 1-5. They’re easy
to use in class and don’t require much in terms of materials. In
addition, each game features a “Tech Twist” for fun, engaging ways to
- Visualizing the Winter Olympics -- Mapping the 2014 Torch Relay:
This blog, from the American Society of Innovation Design in Education
(ASIDE), offers ideas for a mapping activity for students. It's just one
of ASIDE’s creative ideas for teaching about the Olympics. Also check
out Designing the 2014 Sochi Brand
and The Olympics as Teaching Tool -- Going for the Gold from the London Games in 2012.
- The Science of Winter Sports from Science Buddies:
This is another resource from the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, and
it’s packed full of great science projects and activities for students.
Most of the lessons are designed for the middle grades 4-8, and they
cover various winter sports, like “How Fast Can You Shoot A Hockey Puck?” and “Slippery Slopes and Sticking Surfaces: Explore the Forces of Friction.”
Other Useful Resources for the 2014 Sochi Games
So maybe you don't have the tools or time for the above, but .........
Enjoy the snow in all it's forms
In this lastest stink of cold weather, I got to thinking about what wind chill really means and how it affects our outlook on the weather. The above chart is caculated using NOAA's National Weather Services equation.
Here is how you calculate the Wind Chill Index:
Wind Chill T(wc) = 35.74 + 0.6215T - 35.75(V0.16) + 0.4275T(V0.16)
where T(wc) is the Wind Chill in degrees F, V is the Wind Speed in MPH, and T is the temperature in degrees F.
On these cold winter days a breeze makes the cold feel more uncomfortable as it drives heat away form the exposed skin faster than calm air. This might be a good week to have your students caculate the wind chill and gain an understanding that without a hat they may truely be at risk of frostbite in as little as 5 minutes - say that mad dash to the car.
A great book with wind chill descriptions from real life (middle school level) The Children's Blizzard by
Here is a NPR podcast on windchill and a lesson plan that goes with it: NPR windchill podcast
Lesson Plan - middle school
Heat transfer lessons
The above chart has changed over time,
but is used to indicate at what combined wind speed and temperatures
exposed flesh will be damagaed. When will your nose, ear lobes, cheeks,
fingers and toes be at risk of frostbite.
Here are two insects you may run into when walking the woods this
Winter Crane Flies
Here is a video link showing the: Wingless Snow flies
And a link to a naturalists paper on the life cycle of: Snow flies
This is an insect that is often thought to be a daddy long legs spider crawling across the snow, but with close observation you will find only 6 legs. There
are sixteen species of “snow flies” in the genus Chionea in North
They are in the crane fly family
Limoniidae, formerly a subfamily of the Tipulidae. While western species are
mostly confined to mountain ranges, eastern species can be found in most
forested areas, especially in regions that experienced glaciations during the
most recent ice age. They appear most commonly in October and November, and
again in February and March.
While these dark flies are most
conspicuous on the surface of the snow, most of the time they are concealed in
the tunnels of small mammals, beneath leaf litter, or fairly deep in caves.
These situations help to insulate them from truly severe weather, and an adult
snow fly may live up to two months.
How do snow flies keep from freezing
to death? Snow flies occupy the “subnivean” environment: a microclimate
that exists in cavities beneath the snow created by arching grassblades, leaf
litter, and rodent tunnels. These nooks and crannies offer protected niches
with temperatures that are milder than the surface and air temperatures above.
Second and the most common are the Snow Fleas often seen on warm
afternoon near the base of trees.
This video is a great way to learn how
to look for this neat critter.
SSnow Fleas are not fleas
at all, but a type of insect called a springtail.
Springtails get their name because they have two long things
that look like tails sticking from their abdomen
(back body section). The "tails" can fold under the body and
are held by two hooks under the body. When the springtail
releases the hooks, the insect goes flying in the
Snow Fleas are very
small, about 1/16 inch long. They are dark blue, have short
and have two eye clusters (with 16 eyes in each).
Snow Fleas, and other
Springtails, live in soil, leaf
and along shores of ponds. Sometimes they can be found on
the surface of ponds. Since they are so light, they can walk
on the surface without sinking.
They eat old dead plant
roudworms, rotifers, and sap.
Roundworms and rotifers are tiny microscopic
Snow Fleas mate in the
Spring, and the females lay eggs in the soil. Tiny
springtails are born, which are called nymphs.
Nymphs do not look exactly like adult
Cofrin A Center for
Biodiversity, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay:
Snow Flea nymphs will eat and
grow. As they grow they will shed their outer skin (called an
Each time they molt,
they will look a little bit more like an adult Snow Flea. By Winter,
all the nymphs have turned into adults.
During very cold Winter days, Snow
Fleas are not very active. But if it warms up, Snow Fleas will become
active and look for food. They may even crawl out onto the surface of
snow. This is how Snow Fleas get their name. People notice large
amounts of them, like black dust, around the base of a tree. They are
usually there when there isn't snow too, as long as the temperature
is warm enough; you just see them better on a white
of Snow Fleas, and other springtails, include: beetles, ants, mites,
centipedes, and other small insect-eaters.
Cornell Lab is an incredible resource for bird information, I highly recommend it and use it's resources often. So when they announced a new bird app that would sort out the species for your area it sounded great and I downloaded it to the university I-pad right away (it is not in android yet so my smart phone will have to wait). After seeing how easy it was to use I sent it on to some of my teachers. The response was even more enthusiastic than mine.
THANK YOU SO MUCH
CHRIS!!!!!!!!!!!! I used it with my kids right after I downloaded it...
THEY LOVED IT!! Thanks for sharing!!!! Annette Woller - Granton Schools
Introducing Merlin Bird ID: A New Kind of Birding App
Information overload is the bane of the beginning bird watcher—as
anyone knows who has ever flipped through 40 species of sparrows in a field
guide. What if an app could quickly tell you which birds are most likely based
on your location, date, and a brief description? Not just which birds
theoretically could occur near you, but which birds are actually reported most
often by other birders. That’s what Merlin Bird ID does. And it's free—because we
want to make bird watching easier for everyone.
Merlin Bird ID covers 285 of the most common birds of North America (with more
on the way). In addition to help with ID, it contains expert tips, more than
1,400 gorgeous photos, and sounds for each species. It’s available now for
iPhone and other iOS7 devices, and it's coming soon for Android.
Merlin Bird ID app
What happens to “Used” Christmas Trees of the
natural variety? In Madison, La Crosse, Racine, Stevens Point, and many larger
cities there is curbside chipping of the trees. These chips are then used as
mulch in city parks. In Tomahawk the
recycled trees at the yard waste site are ground up by a contractor and taken to
the Packaging Corporation of American’s mill and used as boiler fuel.
"We use it as a boiler fuel to power our pulp and paper
mill plant," says John Piotrowski, environmental manager at PCA, which
manufactures containerboard and corrugated packaging.
Other creative usages for Christmas trees are: bird
feeders and sanctuary’s; winter mulch
for tender perennials; Sliced truck pieces (tree cookies) for border in gardens
or sealed as coasters; Some places trees are dumped on the ice and let to fall
into the lake as fish habitat; and lastly my favorite the fire pit.