Sunday, March 3, 2013

Science Fun- Cycles and Cells

 What a great lesson this turned out to be! My son was sent a science book on Cycles and Cells from the correspondence school he's enrolled in. My first thought was...oh no! He's never going to want to do this. So I put my thinking cap on and got to work. He may not be interested in cycles and cells as such but he is interested in strawberry plants. It's now I should mention that my son has aspergers, he has strong interests that he obsesses over and currently it's his strawberry plants. That was my ticket in and I am rapt with how much we both learned today!
Today thanks to this website  and my son's planter boxes we were able to work through the strawberry plants life cycle and thanks to the school work book we were able to learn about producers, animals and decomposers, natural balance, carbon dioxide and oxygen. I love school days like this!

 The healthy strawberry plants my son is growing from runners our neighbor gave us and some crowns rescued from my gardening attempts. This is a healthy community but it isn't yet a natural community. In a natural community balance is achieved naturally- it needs no additional 'help' from us. These plants have been faithfully fed with liquid fertilizers.
A runner plant. Runners are sometimes referred as daughter plants but their correct name are 'stolons.' The runner plant is a direct clone of the Mother and are a result of asexual reproduction. (Another life cycle we discussed today.) Strawberry plants grown from seeds and genetically varied from their parents (this information resulted in a brief discussion in the genetic links between my kids and me..and the clone information led to a conversation about human twins/identical twins and egg splitting at conception...I love it when this happens.)

In the crown (the hard knobby cluster at the base of the plant) a lot of activity takes place. This is where leaf formation takes place...or the production of photosynthesizing tri-lobed leaflets which eventually sit upon non-woody stems...if you want to be really fancy about it!

 Flower buds form in the crown  during late summer and autumn but remain dormant and hidden over winter, eventually the plant sends them out to fruit (and play it's part in non asexual reproduction.)
 A variety of causes can result in the death of a plant's leaf or even the whole plant. The most likely cause in a well watered and protected environment is an attack by fungi (the de-composer's of the natural cycle) which break down the plants structures, resulting in raw materials being returned to the environment and the life cycle and other entwined cycles to be continued.
Unless they have the misfortune of being in my garden patch and not my sons! Obviously there's some genetic variation between my son and I which has resulted in one of us having a green thumb and the other having the opposite!

Next we are looking at plant cells more closely and after that human cells so watch this space!

May your next be blessed,

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