Welcome to my 10 Days Series on the topic of nature study! Each of the ten days brings you a creative nature walk idea and a fun follow-up activity to spark your enthusiasm for nature study today!
Why study nature?
Today’s nature study: Deciduous Trees
Today’s tree focus will be on leaves. Each leaf (on any plant, not just trees) is like a wonderful little factory! With the help of the sun, leaves change water and nutrients drawn up from the ground into life-giving sap that’s delivered to the tree as food. In the process, we are blessed with the by-product, or waste, called oxygen. If you would like to know more about this process of photosynthesis, you might enjoy viewing this YouTube video. It’s cartoon-like, but quite in-depth and takes less than five minutes.
To begin learning about leaves’ visible parts during your nature walk today, sketch or make a rubbing of several leaves in a nature journal. Label the parts using the definitions below.
Blade – this is the broad, flat part
Midrib – this is the main vein going up the middle of the leaf
Veins – these are the smaller veins going from the midrib to the edge
Margin – otherwise known as the edge of the leaf
Stem – this connects the leaf to the branch of the tree
Petiole – this connects the stem to the leaf (some leaves do not have this)
Make comparisons of the parts from leaf to leaf.
Complete the following transpiration experiments and make drawings and/or notes in your nature journal. Transpiration is the process by which plants lose water through their leaves. You can almost compare it to sweating in humans.
1. To observe transpiration in action, place a plastic bag over a few leaves on a tree in your yard. Secure the bag tightly with a rubber band. After a day or two, observe the bag. You should see water droplets. These are the result of the leaves transpiring, the water evaporating, and then condensing again on the inside surface of the bag.
2. Photosynthesis cannot occur if water and other gases can’t escape through the leaves. Tiny holes, or pores, called stomata are the places from which the water and gases escape. You can see these pores by painting the underside of a leaf with six coats of clear nail polish. After the polish dries, peel it off and look at it under a microscope.
3. See what happens when the stomata aren’t able to transpire. Coat the underside of a few leaves with a thick layer of petroleum jelly. Observe the leaves each day for several days. Can you explain the results?
Read a Book or Two If You Like:
Today’s nature study ideas are just a small sampling of similar deciduous tree suggestions in the NaturExplorers Delightful Deciduous Trees study!
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