Florida Sunrise

My daughter needed a few thousand sunrise photos for her photography class, so this morning at 5:45am we headed out.

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We got there shortly before the sun peaked over the horizon.

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It didn’t take too long before it got really interesting.

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After awhile, we head back home, but made a few stops for more photos along the way.

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It was a gorgeous morning.  Would love to do this more often.

Things to see.

A field trip to GTM Research Reserves, Guana Tolomato Matanzas national Estuarine Research Reserve, Guana River State Park, or GTM, …whatever…. 8-O  is always an educational one, even if you are there just for a visit and not a class trip.

The co-op’s students, parents, and I went hiking down the yellow trail on this GTM Reserach Reserve Trail Map.  One mile in and one mile out. Easy-peasy.

Before we even got on the trail the students found their first specimen to record.

A Squirrel Treefrog.   Can you see where it was found?  Thankfully everyone brought bottled water, because no one wanted to drink out of this faucet.

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Along the trail to the river we found:

White-topped Sedge, a Florida native plant.  Thanks to my MIL for identifying them for me!

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Alligators sunning along the water’s edge.  I don’t blame them.  It was a beautiful day!

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Other things found along the trail, but no photos taken:  birds nests, spiders, snakes, bugs, bugs, and bugs.   Thistles and lots of different trees.

Once at the river, we found:

Raccoon Tracks

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Cannonball Jellyfish.  Gives a slight sting and is edible, but you have to prepare it properly.  Lunch anyone?

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Lots of dead trees.  These are near the water’s edge and have long since died.  I really do like the looks of old tangled tree roots.  To me, it is art.  :D

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This time around we found only one Horseshoe Crab  and this one was the largest I have seen.  The tail measure roughly 11 inches and the body was 14 inches.  It’s dead. Just so you know.

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Muck.  I have no idea what this aquatic grass is called.

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Back to the trail head, my daughter took this shot of a caterpillar.  I have no idea what it will turn into, moth or butterfly.

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So there is just a sample of what we saw.  What have you seen lately?

Guana River State Park Field Trip

Once again I forced my Biology student on a field trip to Guana River State Park,  but is really called Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.  It was a perfect day to take the mile long hike to the river.  High was 78 degrees, sunny, breezy, and oh so georgous.

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Here we are heading out on our one mile hike to the river.  Mixed in this group are the Biology students, Photography Students, Siblings, and The Awesome Parents.  Love having the parents come along.    This photo was taken by Jen Mauser of A Knittery Life.

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The youngest of the group lead the way.  But there were many stops before we arrived at the river.  So much to see.

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And photos to take.

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At the river, everyone heads to the rocks to take in the view.  The place is just beautiful.

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Photography students were to take photos of anything they wanted to.  My daughter, who is in the photography class and my Biology class, thought taking photos was optional. :/

The Biology students were to fill out a worksheet I had made for them.  They were to find, identify, and sketch three different trees, water plants, birds, amphibians, and record if they found anything  hadn’t listed on the worksheet.

The students took off….

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Beach to the left.  And sunshine all around.

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Jen Mauser and I took off after some lunch and came across raccoon tracks.  That is Jen’s shadow below.  Looks just like her!

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Once we returned to the starting point, my daughter realized photography wasn’t optional, so she took a few photos of a different kind of wild life. :D

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I didn’t know she was also taking pictures of me.   We are also doing an insect board and most of the students brought something to collect insects in.  Here I am with a student trying to catch a flying creature.

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It was a great day all around.  The two classes worked well together and everyone enjoyed themselves.  This is one of my favorite places to be. :)

Come back tomorrow to find out what we did find.

The Inside of a Frog

The last animal dissection of the year!  WOOT!

Nice picture, huh?

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Handing out the specimens is always fun.  It’s like handing out cupcakes!  The students love it. LOL

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Yep, the students line up with their trays and receive this totally cool gift.  Yes, the specimens do have a smell, but not as bad as when I was in school.

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For this experiment, I made a worksheet for them to fill out.  It had fill in the blanks and very little sketching.  I wanted them to really work hard on the dissection instead of spending most of their class time sketching.

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I used the following websites to put my worksheet together.

I picked some things from each link and added some things of my own to make a good worksheet.  You can do the same or just use their worksheets. :)

As always we begin our experiment by looking at the exterior of the specimen.  We found all to be females and thankfully none had eggs.  I don’t like dealing with the eggs.  blah….

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Then we move to the inside.  Love, love, love the double injected specimens.  Arterial system is injected with red latex and the hepatic system is injected with blue latex .  Thumbs up all around!

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I think all of the students were glad when this was over.  It got busy real fast and I didn’t get as many photos as I wanted.  You can see previous post with some great photos.

Frog Guts – 2011

Here are some extra helpful links for frog dissection.

Youtube also has lots of videos that are useful.

Enjoy!

A Hunting We Will Go…

One of the big projects I have the Biology students do for months is insect collecting.   All students are required to obtain, classify, and pin to a board 30 insects.

This project is announced early in the year, so the kids can start looking.  Here in Florida it is usually easy to find insects, so I do not accept the excuse that they couldn’t find any.  Really? In Florida!

To help with the hunt, I took the students on an optional Field Trip to a local park.  This park is known for its bugs, except for this day. :/

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Here is the group heading down the path.   As you can see, this looks like it would be a great place for a hunt.

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We looked high and low and found only iddy biddy bugs.  These bugs were so small we had to put them in bags to pin them to the board.

Here I am trying to coax a few critters to give up their life for the insect board.  It didn’t work.  Yeah, they knew we were coming…

On a brighter note, I am sporting my new day pack, Osprey Sirrus 24 in Summit Blue.  It is bright for my outdoor adventures, but it was the only pack that would fit me.  Ignore the ugly pink shirt.

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We get to a bridge and I want a group picture.  While posing a bug flies into our vicinity.  One student takes advantage of the situation.

Camp Tomahawk 025The bug tries to escape by flying from a student’s face to my face.  The student in the hat, does not give up and doesn’t care he is about to smack his teacher in the face to get the insect.  Since I love students who don’t give up, I can handle the smack. :D

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Finally!  Bug in jar and photo taken.  Hooray!

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Even though this was a moderately unsuccessful bug hunt, the trip as really nice. The weather was great, the kids had fun, the flowers are pretty, and I got to wear my new pack. Thumbs up all around. :D

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Get outside!

Perch Dissection!

Module 13 in Exploring Creation Biology – Phylum Chordata.  This is where vertebrates are found.  Yes, this is where humans are classified, right along with this lovely Perch. :D

Look at these lovies!  Nice big specimens.

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We pray for great weather when it is time for the Perch dissection.  Yes, it does smell and having that smell in the co-op building just before lunch, is not a good thing.  Trust me.

We use meat trays instead of dissection trays and plastic table covers for easy clean up.  I REALLY hate cleaning dissection trays.

Here is my class getting ready for the fun.

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After examining the outside and taking notes, we looked at the gills.

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Then the students were to pull out one of the gills and have a look at it.  Most were ok with doing that.  It wasn’t an easy thing to do.  Scissors and tweezers were needed to pull the gills out.

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Then it was time to look in the inside.  Eww…. Most of the students said they could not cut the through the scales.  Most likely an excuse not to have to cut through it. :D  They stopped complaining when I took an extra fish and made a perfect cut.

And as always once in side, the students play around. Fish guts, anyone?

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Stomachs were cut open, but all were empty.  I guess they did not get a last meal.

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The brain has always been difficult for us to find.  Somewhere in the mess below, is the brain.

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After all work has been completed, we just roll everything up in the plastic table covers, through it in a bag and it is done.   All that is left is a pile of tools to wash.

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For this experiment and most other, students are required to type up their lab before coming to class.  This assures me they will actually read what they are going to attempt.

To add to their lab write-up I printed these worksheets for them to label.  I did have to white-out the words, so the student can fill it in.  They had an exterior and interior diagram to labels.

The following websites are also a big help.

Crayfish – In All Its Glory!

Wow.  Didn’t realize it has been over a MONTH since I last posted.

We continue our dissection series with the Crayfish.  As I have said before, I get our specimens from Carolina.   They come in a well sealed bucket and the specimens are awesome.

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Below I am handing out the crayfish to the students.  Please note two things:  The beautiful specimen and the expression on daughter’s face.  The specimens are in excellent color and shape.  They are something to oooh and awwww over, but my daughter just does not understand that.

After this experiment, I excused the daughter from future dissections.  The poor thing could not eat for the rest of the day and looked rather green.  I never thought I would excuse any student, especially one of my kids, from dissections.

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Obliviously some legs were removed from the crayfish below.   Not everyone is disgusted by them. LOL   First line of business is to examine the exterior.

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Then we have a look at the inside.  With some effort the Carapace is removed from the body.

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Gills and other pieces parts are exposed and examined.

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More examination of the parts.  Sketches and labels are done.

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And then it looks like the Crayfish just exploded.   What can I say?  When the students begin they usually don’t stop until there is nothing left.   Except for my daughter who did as little as possible. :)

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I did not use photos in a PowerPoint this time, but I do have some nice photos you can use.  I will post them  in a few days after I have posted about the Perch and Frog.  You may save them and use them for your classroom, if you wish.

Enjoy!