Monday, September 26, 2011

Green and Growing - Session 1

This week the students learned about the basic tool of field scientists - observation. They became aware that sometimes we miss important details when only using our eyes, missing the smell of the Japanese Glorybower leaf or the texture of the fringecup leaves. As you notice leaves together this week, ask your child to describe the leaf’s texture, shape, edges, and thickness to you. If you don’t have time outside, try to explore your house using your senses with your kids - a field scientist can make observations anywhere! I have uploaded three observation forms to Google Docs that you can use with your young scientists:

  1. Leaf Observation.pdf - table to record sight, touch, hearing, and smell observations of leaves
  2. Leaf Observation Venn Diagram.pdf - compare and contract observations of two leaves
  3. Observation game.pdf - similar to the ‘phone call’ game played in class; use descriptive language to get your partner to match your pattern

The students also heard the story of Dr. Geerat Vermeij, a man who was blind by the age of four and is now a world-renowned professor of marine ecology and paleobiology through his study of shells using mostly his sense of touch. If you would like to learn more about Dr. Vermeji you can find his biography ‘Privileged Hands: A Scientific Life’ at the local library or go to this kid-friendly site:

Next week we be walking to Stephen’s Creek Natural Area for our first outdoor field study. We will go rain or shine so please have your child dress appropriately. They will be learning to identify native plants, which ones produce nuts/fruit that are safe to eat, and which ones not to touch!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

For more information about this fall's EcoThink Science Enrichment course, please see the class permission form:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Introducing the EcoThink Science Enrichment Program

Are you interested in learning how a field scientist works? Do you know which plants in our neighborhood are native, which are invasive, and which are safe to eat or touch? What is ‘Growing and Green in Oregon”? To find out, sign up for Rieke’s fall after-school science enrichment program. We will meet on Monday afternoons - Sept 26, Oct 3, Oct 10, Oct 24, Oct 31, and Nov 7 (no class Oct 17). Two optional field trips have been planned to learn about ethnobotany (Tryon Creek State Park) and sustainable forestry (Hopkins Tree Farm).

This is a six week, hands-on unit where each week builds on knowledge and experiences from the previous week as we explore science topics in our theme ‘Growing and Green in Oregon’. The program does involve several hands-on projects that require adult supervision. We encourage parents or grandparent participation so if you are available for one or more of the sessions and would like to contribute your time, please let us know. There will be a 20 student limit so sign up today! For more information, contact