Tuesday, October 13, 2015


 That's what I've been forgetting to blog about!

My problem is that I get into the class and I forget to take pictures.  If I don't get pictures, I forget to blog!

But we have been climbing the great tree of life.  We did the hand washing experiment and collected an impressive collection of bacteria and fungi.  I had made up some agar plates and encouraged the kids to swab whatever came to mind.

The most interesting results (hope you aren't eating anything):

Gerbils have next to no bacteria on their fur (and what was there I am convinced came from being handled by people).

Aquarium water is full of bacteria.  This did not surprise me since I had set up the tank with a biofilter  (one set of bacteria breaking down fish waste into nitrites, another set breaking nitrites into nitrates- plant food).

Feet (at least certain feet) are full of fungus.

Ears have a lot less bacteria than other places on our body (ear wax is antimicrobial). TMI?

Moving right along, we looked at protists and fungi, and then plants. 

Last week we did simple animals: sponges, cnideria (jellyfish and other stinging cell creatures), worms (including an appalling array of parasites), and molluscs.

One of the most interesting questions came when we were talking about anemones and clown fish.  One clever kid wanted to know what happened to the clown fish when the anemone retracted (sucked in all it's tentacles when threatened by a predator).

I had no idea!  But I found out: the clown fish gets sucked into the anemone's stomach along with all the tentacles!  When the danger is past, the anemone releases it's tentacles and the clown fish just keeps swimming, swimming, swimming.  

So, it's been fun.  The worm class is the creepiest class I teach (parasites, ick!), and I love molluscs, so I've been having a great time.

I was able to haul out a fraction of our sea shell collection and have the kid sort for gastropods and bivalves.

And then there are the cephalopods.  You know how I feel about cephalopods!

And now we know how to win at 20 questions. Probably no one will guess coral when you state that it's an animal, but, for sure, nobody is ever going to guess liver fluke.

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