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Big Learning News 4-20-04

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 2:15 April 20, 2004

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Table of Contents

Activity: Seed Starting
News: Here Come the Cicadas
Web Site: Sedna (Astronomy)

Seed Starting

We finally did get our seeds started in early April - truly a juicy big learning activity. This is the first year I've really involved the kids (almost six and nine) in starting the garden. The kids picked out what they wanted to plant, which led to rack-side conversations about why certain plants were or weren't a good bet. "Our yard doesn't get much sun," I explained, and both kids learned how to find the sun requirements on various brands of seed packets. "Those are hard to grow from seeds. OK, we can get that one, but look at the spacing. That will take up almost your whole garden space - is that what you want?" We talked about the "days to maturity" and figured out when we'd actually see a flower or pick a vegetable we planted that day. And all of us learned that when kids get a lot of different seeds to plant, the final tab can be a little daunting.

Then there was the actual planting. We had to find and follow the instructions for planting depth on each packet - good practice with measurement and estimation. The kids learned how to handle seeds of various sizes. They got some gardening know-how, such as watering from the bottom to avoid disturbing the seeds and keeping them warm by placing them on top of the fridge.

Now, a couple weeks later, many of our seeds have sprouted and it's very exciting. The morning glories are our most spectacular performers. They grow so fast that we're actually measuring their growth day to day with a ruler. I can hardly wait for this weekend, when we plan to start building our new garden space. Stay tuned for more.


The Cicadas are Coming!

Here in Mid-Atlantic USA (New Jersey to Georgia), we're counting down to the emergence of the cicadas, a once-in-17-years event. University of Maryland entomologist Mike Raupp couldn't be more excited. The Brood X cicadas are the largest brood on Earth, and there will be as many as 1.5 million of them per acre when they emerge in May. Sounds grisly until you read interviews with Raupp - he's just so enthralled with what he sees as a rare nature spectacular.

So, if you'd like to find out what's coming to a tree near you, or follow the show from afar, here are some links.


Web Site
Sedna Astronomy Site


"The coldest most distant place known in the solar system; possibly the first object in the long-hypothesized Oort cloud." That's Sedna, whose discovery astronomers announced last month.

Cal-Tech professor Michael Brown's interesting little page answers questions like, "Is Sedna a planet," in ways that teach you about more than just Sedna. For that question, he dives into a plain-language discussion of various ways of classifying astronomical objects, relating each one to Sedna.

The Sedna page is a nice piece of scientific writing - informative and interesting without being arcane or overly technical. If you want the technical information, the page also includes a link to the full scientific paper about Sedna.

Fight Hunger
You Click. Corporate Sponsors Pay. The Hungry Eat.
http://www.thehungersite.com .


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