On the first day that my two grandchildren (5 and 10 yrs old) arrived, we went for a nature walk. Equipped with a capture jar, we found a caterpillar egg case (forest tent caterpillars), many Woolly Bear caterpillars and several cocoons from unknown insect species. These were initially placed in the capture jar and back home they were put in individual jars that would act as terrariums. We also cut willow branches and these were placed in jars of water. They quickly root and sprout leaves within 5 days. Be sure to take many photos!
Maybe our next project will see us starting an Earth Day Cleanup of the ditch that leads to the creek behind my house.
STAO Safety Chair
As parents comply with the restrictions placed on families, how can they keep their young children occupied? This article describes two fun activities that require very little planning. They involve physical activity, practice with observational skills, and an awareness of nature. This is intended as an in-family activity, as the government has required that we stay isolated within our own family unit.
Treasure Hunt: Physical Activity, Map Reading, Observation skills:
Setting up a treasure hunt requires a little pre-planning. This treasure hunt required setting out quarters along a 1.5 km pathway that we had walked the previous day. The maps were placed in our mailbox, and the clues identified places with exotic names such as “Sitting Rock”.
While remaining isolated, the time can still be productive. Our children can continue to learn using nature as a classroom. Keep in mind that restricted travel and isolation are our two strategies to prevent spreading infection. Stay safe.
STAO Safety Committee Chair
By: Dave Gervais - 01-2-2020
Grade 10 Tissues, Organs and Systems of Living Things
Gr 11 Biology: Genetics (oogenesis, meiosis)
Getting the sample: Chicken farmers generally slaughter their animals in the fall. A list of provincially licensed meat plants can be found on the Ministry of Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs website. Most will provide teachers with sample organs from a wide variety of organ systems. STAO’s resource Safe ON Science states that as fresh animals are raised for human consumption, it is safe to study their organs. Precautions include using the organs as soon as possible, using gloves and wiping all surfaces that the organs came in contact with, with a disinfectant. Our safety resource Safe ON Science is available from the STAO store.
Preparing the sample: In chickens, the ovaries are attached along the backbone, and located about 6cm from the anus. They appear as a mass of developing eggs ranging in size from microscopic to eggs that are several millimeters in diameter. A small sample of the tissue can easily be removed with sharp scissors, and then a temporary slide can be made by applying pressure to a plastic coverslip. The tissue can be smeared across with the coverslip, making parts of the tissue translucent.
Recording the observation: A cell phone camera was used, by simply holding the cell phone to the eye piece. With practice, several pictures were taken. These were reviewed and the best images were kept.
Please note that due to the corona virus outbreak the 2020 STAO conference has been CANCELLED
Chair STAO Safety Committee
By: Dave Gervais - 30-12-2019
SBI 3U/3C Grade 10: Tissues, Organs and Living Systems
SBI 3U Grade 11: Animals: Structure and Function
SVN 3M Grade 12: Forestry and Agriculture
Choosing an insect: While insect tracheal ducts are generally very small, those located where the muscle activity is intense are considerably larger. Choose an appropriate flying insect, one that is easy to obtain and is abundant. Choose an insect that has important environmental issues connected to it, and it will make for a deeper experience.
Bees: It is very easy to obtain bees that have recently died, from a local bee keeper. (Thanks Mark). A friend of mine (thanks Geoff) collected 50 specimens in 2 minutes, from the snow banks around the hive. Bees have an interesting life style, are important pollinators, and have had many negative environmental factors affecting their populations. These include tracheal mites (biotic factor) and neonicotinoid use (abiotic factor).
Preparation: The thorax is the site of attachment for the wings and legs. As the cells in the tissues in the thorax will have the greatest requirement for oxygen, the trachea in this region will be the largest. Remove the head, abdomen, legs and wings from 10 bees, leaving only the 10 thoraxes. Place these in 5 ml of 1 molar potassium hydroxide over night. This will dissolve the tissues that surround the trachea.
Using two exacto knives, pull one bee thorax apart. Prepare a wet mount slide and really squish the been thorax onto the slide. Examine under low power initially to find a potential site and then move to medium power to look for the tell-tale rings on the trachea.
Record: As a record of the successful finding of a tracheal duct, use a standard cell phone camera and snap a few pictures. Download these. Crop the pictures, and try a variety of filters to get the best image.
For more of these science activities be sure to attend the STAO Conference 2020. Dave Gervais will be presenting activities for biology as a conference speaker and as a co-presenter in the conference playground.
STAO Safety Committee Chair