• Summer Vacation!!!

    Posted by Diane Clark on 6/16/2020 8:00:00 AM

    Fluffy Little Chipmunk here!  Elephant, Beaker, Sad White Tiger Without a Tail, Tiny Pink Dinosaur, Alvin, Simon, Tiny Green Dinosaur, Fish, Paleontologist Barbie and I made you something!  Look!Have an Awesome Summer! We made it ourselves!  Aren't you impressed?  (Well, Tiny Pink Dinosaur and Tiny Green Dinosaur needed a bit of help holding the markers.)

    Here's what we want you to do this summer.  Go outside!  Look carefully.  Spot something cool, like a ladybug!  

    Lost Ladybugs Found

    Watch it for a while.  Draw it, if that's your thing.  Keep a nature journal, if that's your thing.  Take a photo, if that's your thing.  Google ladybugs and find out something cool about them you didn't know before.  Spend a little time doing that each day.  Become a naturalist.

    On a last serious note:  The Faculty and Staff of West Seneca West Middle School don't disappear over the summer.  If you need something, there are still adults in your community that care about you!  They're still only an email away.

    And now...

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    On a not so serious note:

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    Here it is...

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    The moment you've been waiting for...

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    The last...

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    Fluffy Little Chipmunk joke...

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    of the year:

    Why do bees stay in their hives all winter?

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    Swarm.  Ha ha!  Get it?  LOL

    Mrs. Clark apologizes one final time for the Fluffy Little Chipmunk's terrible, awful, dreadful sense of humor.  After all this time, she still really has no control over him.  

    Have a great summer!

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  • Things That Might Have Been

    Posted by Diane Clark on 6/15/2020 7:00:00 AM

    Fluffy Little Chipmunk here!  I can’t believe we’re almost done with the school year! 

    Here are some questions that I really wanted to blog about, if only we’d had more time.

    Why are some leaves a color other than green?

    red maple leaf

    What’s the deal with spider plants?

    spider plant

    When did Mrs. Clark teach Alvin to knit?

    Alvin knitting

    Why do mayapples produce fruit in such a strange way?

    Mayapple

    Why do wild turkeys look so much like dinosaurs?

    wild turkey

    Will Sad White Tiger Without a Tail actually get to eat these cookies, or will something terrible happen to prevent it?

    SWTWAT and cookies How scary cool are coyotes?

    coyote

    Why do foxes sometimes play like puppies?

    red fox

    What superpower is at work that Paleontologist Barbie still has both of her boots, even though they fall off all the time and she's been handled by hundreds of middle school students?

    Barbie's boots Why is it so important to plant native grasses?

    native grass

    A piece of hail made this hole in this hosta leaf!  What’s up with that?

    hail hole

    Wouldn't every photo be better if it contained a Beaker photobomb?

    Beaker photobomb  Why do inchworms move in that adorable inchwormy way?

    inchworm

    Why do cottonwood trees send out so much cottonwood fluff?

    Cottonwood Fluff is Flammable, Don't Burn It

    What in the world is up with this giant pond beetle? It’s as big as Mrs. Clark’s thumb! 

    giant beetle

    And finally... I'm concerned about how close I am in appearance to this butternut squash.  Do you think we could somehow be related?

    FLC and squash So, we didn't have time to answer those questions.  

    But guess what?  You'll have all summer to find out the answers for yourself!

    On a serious note:  These blog posts have taken me a super long time every day to plan, photograph, and type with my tiny little paws. 

    Even though we’ve been separated physically, I hope that the blog has helped hold us together, and helped you get closer to the nature all around you in West Seneca. 

    Mrs. Clark misses teaching you in person so very much, and she hopes you have a fun and fabulous summer vacation!  Get outdoors!  Enjoy nature!  I know the mascots and I will, for sure.

    On a not so serious note: 

    Why was the Fluffy Little Chipmunk late for work?

    Because traffic was NUTS! Ha ha!  Get it?  LOL

    Mrs. Clark promises that you’ll only have to hear one more Fluffy Little Chipmunk joke.  Ever.  Awww! That makes me kind of sad!

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  • We All Like Butter!

    Posted by Diane Clark on 6/12/2020 7:00:00 AM

    Fluffy Little Chipmunk here! Happy Friday! 

    Did you know that there are over 400 species of plants that people give the common name “buttercup”?  

    buttercup

    The other mascots and I love buttercups.  They’re growing all over Mrs. Clark’s field, and they're so bright and yellow and sunny!

    field of buttercups

    All 400+ buttercup species are part of the genus Ranunculus.  Some have common names like meadow buttercup, goldilocks buttercup, creeping buttercup, large white buttercup, celery leaved buttercup, corn buttercup, bulbous buttercup, and glacial buttercup.

    Bulbous buttercup. LOL.  That’s a funny name.  Say it out loud. 

    Bulbous.

    Buttercup.

    Buttercups have a pool of nectar on the bottom part of their petals.  That's why pollinators like them so much!  No other yellow flower in the world has a pool of nectar like that.

    Bumblebee in buttercup Photograph by Joanne Goldby

    Aww!  Look at that happy bumblie bee!

    People sometimes hold a buttercup flower under the chin of a friend or family member. Have you ever heard of that?  Mrs. Clark used to do this all the time when she was a kid.  If a yellow reflection from the flower's shiny petals can be seen under the chin, the person is said to "like butter".  If you can’t see the yellow under someone’s chin, then they “don’t like butter”.  

    buttercup meme

    Yup.  That was how people spent their time before the internet was invented, believe it or not.

    Really, this "liking butter" works because buttercup flowers are super shiny!  The petals have an extra layer of reflective cells located right below the surface cells, so in any bright light, the shiny surface bounces that yellow light right back!  Sunny day? You like butter!  Cloudy day?  You don’t.

    shiny buttercup

    Which means that it must always be sunny in my Fluffy Little Chipmunk world, because the mascots and I?  We LOVE butter!

    lets get married

    Buttercups might look pretty, but did you know that all parts of the buttercup plant are poisonous? It’s true!  Eating buttercups can lead to bloody diarrhea (Ha ha!  I mentioned poop again!), excessive salivation, severe abdominal pain, and blistering of the intestines.  Gross!

    stomachache

    Did you know that people used to think that butter was yellow because cows ate so many yellow buttercups?

    questioning cow

    We know that’s not true, of course, because buttercups are poisonous and cows don’t eat them, but it’s an interesting thought…

    The other mascots and I knew better than to eat the buttercups in Mrs. Clark’s field, but we did enjoy decorating ourselves with them.

    Alvin put his buttercups on his hat.

    Alvin buttercups Tiny green dinosaur made a buttercup into a hat!

    dinosaur buttercup

    I put a chain of them around my ear.  Don't I look like I belong at Coachella?

    chipmunk buttercup

    Barbie made a beautiful necklace out of hers.

    Barbie buttercups

    Even Beaker got into the fun, tucking a bunch of buttercups behind his ear.  (Wait... does Beaker even have ears?)

    Beaker buttercups

    Everyone looked awesome!  Well, everyone except for Sad White Tiger Without a Tail.  I’m not sure he got the idea quite right. 

    Sad White Tiger buttercups Poor Sad White Tiger Without a Tail!  Things never do seem to go his way.

    On a serious note:  Are you all caught up in science?  Is the only science work that you have left reading the daily blog?  Good for you!  If not, Mrs. Clark is always here if you have any questions or concerns.  Last day to turn in late stuff is Tuesday, June 16th.

    On a not-so-serious note:

    Why do buttercups drive so fast?

    Because they put the petal to the metal!  Ha ha!  Get it? LOL!

    Mrs. Clark promises that you won’t have to read any more Fluffy Little Chipmunk jokes until Monday.  Have a great weekend!

    Comments (-1)
  • Glowing Spots - Possibly Aliens?

    Posted by Diane Clark on 6/11/2020 7:00:00 AM

    Fluffy Little Chipmunk here!  Guess what fun thing the mascots and I did last night?  We played flashlight tag!  Outside!  In the dark!

    Playing with flashlights in the dark is so much fun. Did you know that if you hold a flashlight under your chin it looks really spooky?  Here are all of our spooky flashlight pictures. 

    Can you tell who’s who?

    flashlight 1

    flashlight 2

    flashlight 3

    flashlight 4

    flashlight 5

    flashlight 6

    flashlight 7

    flashlight 8

    flashlight 9

    flashlight 10 Flashlight tag is a super fun game!  One mascot is “it” (don’t worry, not the scary clown from the movie). 

    Pennywise

    Everyone else hides. 

    I was “it” first.  (Again, NOT a scary clown.)  I had to find all of the other mascots by shining my flashlight on them.  Then, somebody else would be “it”.

    I’d found everybody but Sad White Tiger Without a Tail, when I saw a tiny blinking light in the field.

    What on earth was it?  A teeny alien spacecraft?

    lightning bug

    Everyone ran to look. 

    Jeepers!  There were more of them!

    lightning bugs in the dark

    “Lightning bugs!”, I shouted.

    “Fireflies!”, said Elephant. 

    Were lightning bugs and fireflies the same thing?  We decided to find out.

    Turns out that lightning bugs and fireflies are both common names for the same organisms - members of the Lampridae family, and they’re not actually flies at all. They’re beetles!

    firefly daytime

    I’ve seen beetles before, of course.  Everyone’s seen beetles.  But these beetles glow!  How does that happen?

    Well, here’s the science, but it’s kind of complicated.  Fireflies have light organs that are located under their abdomens. They make this pigment called luciferin that can generate light with very little heat.  When the luciferin is mixed with oxygen, an enzyme called luciferase acts on the luciferin, but only if magnesium ions are there.  Then, a chemical called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and the oxygen mix together to produce the light. 

    firefly chemistry Yeah.  See?  I told you it was complicated.

    green fireflies

    Anyway, it turns out that firefly light is the most energy efficient light in the whole entire world!  Too bad we can’t harness that energy and use it for energy efficient light everywhere.  We should all keep our own private stock of pet fireflies for reading at night!

    yellow fireflies

    But maybe the fireflies wouldn't like that.

    Did you know that different species of fireflies flash in different colors?  It’s true!  Those blinking lights come in green, yellow, and orange!

    orange fireflies

    Different firefly species flash in different patterns, and those patterns are used to help them attract a mate. The males fly through the air in search of a female that's giving a species-specific flash. Some fireflies only flash once, and others do it up to nine times. The females sit on the ground and wait until they see a guy's impressive light display. Then they show their interest by responding with a single flash, timed to follow the males’ flashes.

    love bugs

    But the lightning bugs have to watch out!  There’s one kind, genus Photuris, that flashes its lights in order to get dinner!  When a lightning bug of another species gets too close, instead of mating with him, she eats him!  What??? That is not ok.

    scared chipmunk

    There’s an award winning short video of a girl walking into a forest full of fireflies.  Have you ever seen it?  Before you watch the video, understand that there’s nothing artificial or computer generated about this little film.  It’s the real thing.  Real lighting.  Real person.  Really amazing fireflies doing what they do in a real forest in Mexico.  Here’s a link.

    Fireflies Mating Dance

    Isn’t science amazing?

    We had a good time running around in the field with our flashlights and watching fireflies.  I even got one to land on my paw! 

    Finally, we got tired.  We all went inside and went to bed. 

    Well, all of us except Sad White Tiger Without a Tail.  For some reason he didn’t come inside with us.  

    field at night

    “Wow!”, I said to Fish, “I’m really impressed!  Sad White Tiger Without a Tail is the best flashlight tag player I’ve ever seen!”

    Still, somebody should probably go out and find him and tell him that he can stop hiding because we've stopped playing tag.  

    You know, now that the sun is up.

    On a serious note: This is the last Thursday of the school year!  Can you believe it?  Are you all caught up on your science work?  Mrs. Clark is still available by email anytime you need her!

    On a not so serious note: 

    Why did the spider eat the firefly?

    He wanted a light snack! Ha ha!  Get it?  LOL

    Mrs. Clark is very sorry about the Fluffy Little Chipmunk’s terrible sense of humor.  She says you only have to suffer through a few more of these jokes before summer vacation starts.

    Comments (-1)
  • Wabbit Season

    Posted by Diane Clark on 6/10/2020 8:00:00 AM

    Happy last Wednesday of the school year!  Fluffy Little Chipmunk here!  The mascots and I are still having such a good time at Mrs. Clark’s house.  It’s so nice just playing on grass in the backyard.

    FLC in grass

    We found a stick, and decided to play limbo!  Do you know what limbo is?  Two of us took turns holding up the stick, then, one at a time, the other mascots tried to go under the stick.  Here are Tiny Pink Dinosaur and Tiny Green Dinosaur holding up the limbo stick for Sad White Tiger Without a Tail.

    playing limbo

    Sad White Tiger Without a Tail was right underneath when Beaker pointed and shouted, “Meep-meep-meep! Meep-meep!”  

    Beaker pointing

    Nobody knew what that meant, but when we looked at where he was pointing, we saw the cutest rabbit at the edge of the field!

    rabbit

    He was watching us carefully, but he didn’t look like he was afraid of us at all.  We crept up on him very slowly and quietly.  Have you ever watched a rabbit eat?  He’d get one dandelion leaf and just keep chewing and chewing. The leaf would keep getting shorter and shorter until we couldn’t see any more leaf at all!  I would have had to use my little paws to eat that big dandelion leaf, but rabbits just kind of pull leaves into their mouths a little at a time.  It’s really cool to see.

    rabbit eating leaf

    The rabbits we have around here are Eastern cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus).  Eastern cottontails can have huge families.  The females can have babies (called kits) 7 or 8 times a year, and can have 3 to 8 kits each time!  And those kits can have their own kits when they’re as little as 2 to 3 months old! And then those babies can have babies, and then those babies can have babies! And then…

    holding kits It’s a good thing they’re super cute.

    kit on hind legs

    If a pair of Eastern cottontail rabbits had babies and they all survived, and those babies had babies and they all survived, and so on, in 5 years there would be 350,000 cottontail rabbits!  Oh my goodness!  That would be so… much… cuteness!  But that would also be a whole lot of rabbits.

    many baby rabbits

    The momma builds her nest by digging out a shallow, slanting hole.  Then, she lines it with grass, leaves, and her own fur. Nests are usually built in grassy areas.  From above, they look like nothing more than a patch of dead grass!  There’s no hint of what lies beneath. 

    rabbit nest

    That’s why people have to be really careful mowing their lawns this time of year.

    mowing the lawn To draw as little attention as possible to the nest, mom only visits twice a day (dusk and dawn) and nurses the babies while standing over the hole.  They reach up to suckle while staying concealed from view.

    Eastern cottontails produce two different types of poop.  The first poop is soft and green in color.  It's re-ingested (Re-eaten! Eew!) so that the rabbit can digest it more thoroughly the second time, getting all the possible nutrients out of it.  Gross!  The second time the poop is brown.  Sigh. I realize that I’m talking about poop again.  Is every one of these blog posts going to have poop in it?  Poop must really be a super important part of every ecosystem!

    I’m not going to show you pictures of the two different kinds of rabbit poop.  You know, the eaten-once and the eaten-twice rabbit poop.  If you want to see it, you can Google it. Just tell your parents that you’re Googling rabbit poop, because you love science!

    Eastern cottontail rabbits have lots of enemies to worry about – foxes, coyotes, hawks, owls, cats, dogs, weasels, and snakes!  

    hawk and rabbit

    That’s why they have so many babies, and why they are crepuscular (active mostly during twilight hours).  They usually spend the brightest part of the day hiding under plants.

    We all really loved seeing the bunny rabbit. 

    All, that is, except for Sad White Tiger Without a Tail.  I couldn’t figure out where he was! 

    The last time I saw him, we were playing limbo, and then…

    SWTWAT under limbo stick

    Oh no!  Whoops!  We left him stuck underneath the limbo stick! Poor Sad White Tiger Without a Tail. He always seems to miss out on the good stuff.

    On a serious note:  How are you doing?  Are you all caught up on your school work?  The last day you can turn in late work is Tuesday June 16th.  Your teachers are all available if you have any questions or concerns.

    On a not so serious note:

    What do you call 100 rabbits walking backwards?

    A receding hare line!  Ha ha! Get it?  LOL

    Mrs. Clark apologizes again for the Fluffy Little Chipmunk’s terrible sense of humor.

    Comments (-1)
  • Tree Climbing!

    Posted by Diane Clark on 6/9/2020 7:00:00 AM

    Hello again, Fluffy Little Chipmunk here!  Guess what fun thing we did yesterday at Mrs. Clark’s house?  We climbed trees!  I’ve never climbed a tree before.  It’s awesome!

    Paleontologist Barbie went up a hydrangea bush.

    Barbie in hydrangea

    She’s a super good climber.  I bet you have to be able to climb to be a good paleontologist.

    I climbed up a maple tree!  See?  Here I am, waving at you!

    FLC in maple tree While I was up there, I couldn’t help but look at the tree’s bark.  It was all smooth with kind of up and down stripes in it.

    maple tree bark

    Beaker made his way up a dogwood tree.

    Beaker in dogwood

    Look at that!  The dogwood’s bark is green!

    green bark

    Sad White Tiger Without a Tail wanted to join in the fun.  He couldn’t make it up into a tree, but he did manage to sort of climb into a shrub.  It had really cool peeling bark which I’m sure Sad White Tiger Without a Tail would have appreciated, only… 

    Sad White Tiger in a shrub

    Poor Sad White Tiger Without a Tail.  Things never do seem to go his way.

    Anyway, after looking at all these different kinds of bark, Elephant asked, what is bark anyway, and why do so many plants have it?

    Elephant and bark

    Hmmm.  Is that kind of a terrifying photo of Elephant, or is it just me?  I don't remember him being so... creepy.  I think it's the smile.

    Anyway, it turns out that bark is the outer layers of stems and roots of woody plants, and it’s similar in many ways to your own skin!  Bark isn’t a technical term, but it protects the outside xylem tubes that carry water up from roots to leaves, and phloem tubes that carry food down from leaves to roots in a plant. 

    cool tree bark

    The bark of a tree is actually made up of old, dead cells, and it gives trees a lot of strength.  It protects the tree from the elements – from scorching by the sun or drying by the wind. 

    palm tree in wind

    Bark also helps keep off fungi and many insects and mammals that would otherwise eat the sugar-rich sap or the wood that it surrounds.

    more cool tree bark

    It's cool that the bark of different tree species has evolved to make best use of their individual environments.  Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) bark offers protection from fire. The bark has thick, protective plates, and in areas more prone to fire, the trees in that area adapt and build in extra fire protection.

    Scots pine

    Many trees have chemicals in their bark.  Birch (Betula spp.) bark is high in volatile oils (this is why it’s also great for lighting fires!), and is so waterproof and resistant to decay that tubes of birch bark can still be found on the forest floor even after the wood inside has turned back into soil.

    birch bark

    The bark of oak (Quercus petraea) is very high in tannins, which are toxic and protect the tree from insects.

    oak tree

    Aspen (Populus tremula) bark has some fascinating features. It's a greenish-grey color because it’s one of the only trees that can do photosynthesis through its bark. It also has diamond-shaped marks on the bark that are actually tiny breathing holes called lenticels.

    aspen bark

    Different species of trees have very different bark textures, and that influences what species live on it. The treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) is a specialist bark forager, hopping up the trunk, and probing the crevices with its specially adapted, thin, curved beak, eating insects.

    treecreeper

    Aww!  Isn't he cute?

    While bark does an excellent job of protecting the tree, there are some very determined creatures who get to the yummy wood beneath it.

    Many mammals leave marks on bark, and by looking at the height of the damage, we can figure out what mammal made it.

    Voles like to eat the bark at the base of young trees, killing young saplings.

    vole

    Deer also strip bark, as well as damaging it by ‘fraying’ their antlers on it to shed the velvet coating)

    deer fraying bark

    The bark of aspen and willow trees is an important food source for beavers.  This is obviously damaging to a tree, but it shows how bark can support a wide range of different species.

    European beaver

    LOL!  Look!  He's got a little smile!

    While bark’s main purpose is to protect the tree, it also shows how every surface, nook and cranny in a woodland can provide food, shelter, or both, for many different species, which increases the health and biodiversity of the forest.

    forest

    Trees are cool.

    It was so much fun climbing those trees yesterday!  We all really enjoyed it.  Well, except for Sad White Tiger Without a Tail.  Poor Sad White Tiger Without a Tail.  You know?  I don’t remember seeing him at breakfast this morning.  I hope he wasn’t stuck hanging upside down in that tree all night!  Somebody should probably go outside and check on him. 

    Oh, well.  Mrs. Clark said we’re going to have a picnic lunch outside today.  I’ll have to remember to look for him later when we go out. 

    I'm sure he's fine.

    On a serious note:  How are you doing?  Things good?  Mrs. Clark is only an email away if you ever need anything, you know.

    On a not so serious note:

    Why did the tree need to take a nap?

    For rest.  Ha ha!  Get it?  LOL!

    Mrs. Clark says again that she’s sorry for the Fluffy Little Chipmunks terrible sense of humor.

    Comments (-1)
  • Mascot Campfire

    Posted by Diane Clark on 6/8/2020 8:00:00 AM

    Hello there!  Fluffy Little Chipmunk here!  Guess what fun thing the mascots and I did this weekend? We had a campfire in Mrs. Clark’s backyard!  Most of us thought it was awesome, although Beaker did get a little scared when it started to get dark outside.

    Beaker scared

    It was all right though. Paleontologist Barbie talked him down.

    Beaker and Barbie

    Just then, Mrs. Clark pointed out a bird right above us.  Except it wasn’t a bird!  It was a bat! 

    bat flying

    Did you know that there are bats in West Seneca?  We all saw it except Sad White Tiger Without a Tail.  He’d left to go use the bathroom.  And guess what?  Nobody was afraid of the bat – not even Beaker!

    Mrs. Clark said it was a little brown bat.  Little brown bats, Myotis lucifugus, have small bodies and glossy brown fur.  

    little brown bat

    They usually live for about 7 years, but have been known to live in the wild for up to 34 years!  Bats are nocturnal, which means they sleep during the day and hunt at night.  Humans usually come across little brown bats when the bats are roosting in buildings during the day.

    Mr. Clark put up a bat house a few years ago, and there are bats living in it now. 

    Wanna hear something funny?  When Mr. Clark made the bat house, he put the Batman symbol on it. Then, after he hung it way up high, a bird made a nest on top of it. 

    Batman and Robin

    Can you see the nest? And the bird was a Robin!  So there was Batman, and Robin!  LOL!  That’s awesome.

    Anyway… back to bats.

    Little brown bats don’t have many natural predators, but sometimes they’re hunted by owls, and sometimes they’re eaten by raccoons.  They’re much more likely to die of diseases like rabies and white-nose syndrome then by becoming prey.  White-nose syndrome has killed over a million little brown bats since 2011, and around here in the Northeast, we’ve lost almost 90% of them!  And that’s terrible, because 72% of a little brown bat’s diet is mosquitoes.  And I hate mosquitoes!

    mosquito

    Turns out bats can eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes in an hour!  That’s crazy!

    Did you know that bats can find their food in total darkness?  They locate insects by emitting high-pitched sounds people can't hear, 10-20 beeps per second, and listening to the echoes.

    And bat droppings, called guano, are one of the richest fertilizers in the world!

    bat guano

    Bat guano was once a big business. Guano was Texas's largest mineral export before oil! 

    Geepers!  There’s only so long I can go before talking about poop, isn’t there?  Sorry about that.

    Anyway, we had a wonderful time at the campfire.  We were going to make s’mores with Reeses’s cups instead of chocolate, but it turned out we didn’t have any graham crackers.  That was fine, though.  None of us had ever roasted a marshmallow before, and it was really fun.

    roasting marshmallows

    And I ate sooooooo many Reese’s cups! 

    lots of Reese's

    They’re really delicious.  We all meant to save some marshmallows and Reese’s cups for Sad White Tiger Without a Tail, we really did!  But by the time he came back from the bathroom, all that was left was the wrappers.

    sad tiger no candy

    Poor Sad White Tiger Without a Tail.  He never can catch a break.

    On a serious note:  This is the last full week of school!  I’ll bet many of you are excited, but it’s ok to feel a little anxious, too.  Your teachers are all still here for you if you need to talk or if you have end of the year questions.  We’re just an email away!

    On a not-so-serious note:

    What’s more amazing than a talking bat?

    A spelling bee!  Ha ha!  Get it?  LOL

    Mrs. Clark again apologizes for the Fluffy Little Chipmunk’s dreadful sense of humor.

    Comments (-1)
  • There's a Fungus Among Us!

    Posted by Diane Clark on 6/5/2020 8:00:00 AM

    Fluffy Little Chipmunk here, along with all of the other mascots at Mrs. Clark’s house!  We’re having such a good time!

    Paleontologist Barbie found some interesting and unusual artwork in Mrs. Clark’s living room.

    Barbie and Artwork

    It was a drawing made on a shelf fungus!  Did you know that people sometimes did artwork on shelf fungi?  This one was dated 1986.  Gosh, Mrs. Clark must be old!

    Whispering Pines '86

    And here's another one!

    Alleging Troll This one says Allegheny troll!  Oh my gosh!  Mrs. Clark was just talking to some Team 7C students about Allegheny State Park and saying how much she loved going there as a kid!  That's when this piece of art was made by Mrs. Clark's cousin.

    Wait a second.  You say you don’t know what a shelf fungus is?  Let me show you a photo of some of it growing by Mrs. Clark’s pond.

    pond shelf fungus

    Most of the shelf fungi in this photo are striped and pale green, but look at that cool neon orange one!

    Shelf fungi are the sporophyte part of Order Basidiomycete that grow on trees or fallen logs in damp woodlands.  It’s not super unusual to find ones that are 16 inches across or more! 

    big shelf fungus

    In fact, a shelf fungus called Fomitiporia ellipsoidea (scientific name alert!) was discovered that was almost three feet wide and weighed over a thousand pounds!  Woah!

    giant shelf fungus

    Shelf fungi have to be shaped like shelves because on the underside are holes called pores.  When it’s time to reproduce, a spore drops out of each pore, and it has to float away in the air without getting stuck to the sides.  So, the pore has to point straight down, and the overall shape ends up looking like a shelf.

    orange shelves

    If you find a shelf that seems woody, that fungus must be several years old.  They add a new layer of tissue every year, so those stripes you see are age rings, like the age rings of a tree!  How old would you say these shelf fungi are?

    striped shelf fungus

    Shelf fungi are an important part of an ecosystem, and Mrs. Clark says that you should just leave them alone, even though it is true that if you press down on the underside it changes color and can make a cool picture. 

    deer art

    She says she’s much wiser now than she was in 1986, because now she knows that these woody shelves are actually a microhabitat that provides a unique place for animals to live!  Spiders, mites, and insects live in large shelves. A few of the insects are specialized and are only found in shelf fungi. Some beetles are so slim that they can fit right down inside a pore! 

    pores

    They hide in there and eat spores. There are enough insects and other animals that a food web is created. Spiders and some insects are predators that feed on the other tiny insects and their larvae.

    Imagine!  A whole microhabitat!  Right there!

    red and green

    Science is cool.

    Guess what?  I made friends with Misty!  She and I bonded right away.  I can tell that we’re going to be best buds.  See how much she likes me?

    Misty and the FLC

    Sad White Tiger Without a Tail tried to make friends with Logan.  At first it seemed like it was going ok,

    Logan looking at SWTWAT

    but then, well…

    Logan licking his lips

    You be the judge.

    Sad White Tiger Without a Tail was not amused.  Poor Sad White Tiger Without a Tail.  He never can catch a break.  I hope Logan doesn’t eat him!

    On a serious note:  Did you see that Mrs. Clark posted the last science homework assignment of the school year?  How exciting is that?  Have any questions?  She's only an email away!

    On a not so serious note:

    Why do shelf fungi grow so close together?

    Because they don’t need mushroom!  Ha ha!  Get it? LOL

    Mrs. Clark promises that you won't have to read any more Fluffy Little Chipmunk jokes until Monday.  Have a great weekend!

    Comments (-1)
  • Road Trip!

    Posted by Diane Clark on 6/4/2020 10:00:00 AM

    Fluffy Little Chipmunk here, and I have super duper exciting news!  Mrs. Clark went to West Middle today, and she brought me and all the other mascots home for the summer!  We're all so happy.

    When Mrs. Clark got to school, she was surprised by a gift from one of the students in Period Red!  She unwrapped it to find socks.  Science socks!

    atom socks

    One sock says “Never trust an atom.”  And the other sock says “They make up everything.”  Ha ha!  Get it?  LOL 

    That’s totally my sense of humor.  I tried them on, but they’re way too big for my tiny little chipmunk feet, so I guess Mrs. Clark gets to wear them, which is good because she loves them!

    Anyway, once she put everything in boxes for the summer, we got to take a road trip!

    road trip!

    And now we’re all at Mrs. Clark’s house!  That's us!  All sitting on Mrs. Clark's couch!

    mascot group photo

    Elephant, Fish, me, Sad White Tiger Without a Tail, Tiny Pink Dinosaur, Alvin, Beaker, Tiny Green Dinosaur, Paleontologist Barbie, and Simon.  We’re pretty tired today, but wait until tomorrow, and we can all start having adventures together!

    I had a request from someone in Period Orange to talk about June bugs.  Do you know what June bugs are?  They’re the big fat beetles that you see buzzing around porch lights in the summertime.

    June bug

    Like a lot of common names, the term “June bug” can actually refer to any of about 100 different species of beetles.  Did you know that our June bugs are related to Egyptian scarab beetles?

    scarab beetle

    Scarab beetles are also called dung beetles because they like to roll around big balls of poop. 

    dung beetle Hmm.  The mascots and I have invented a lot of games while were alone and bored at West Middle, but we never ever thought of rolling around big balls of poop!  Yech!

    Ancient Egyptian mythology stated that because the scarab beetle rolls balls of dung across the ground, it symbolized the forces that move the sun across the sky, and so the beetles were worshiped!

    But June bugs don’t roll around balls of poop. And we don’t worship them, either.

    June bugs vary in length from a half an inch to an inch, are reddish brown, and have shiny wing covers. They feed on leaves and flowers at night, sometimes causing considerable damage.  

    June bug eating

    June bug larvae, called white grubs, are about an inch long and live in the soil.

    white grub

    They can destroy crops like corn, small grains, potatoes and strawberries, and they can kill lawns and pastures by severing grasses from their roots.

    But June bugs are an important part of the food chain!  Many animals root out the white grubs and eat them, including skunks, moles, and birds such as crows and grackles and this bluebird.

    bluebird with grub

    Many other animals, including birds and frogs, eat the adults.

    frog eating beetle Several types of flies and wasps are parasitic on the adults and larvae, laying eggs on them that hatch and devour the host.

    parasitic wasp

    I found a picture of wasps eating their way out of a white grub, but it’s really gross, even for my standards, so I’m not going to show it to you.  I’m too happy about being at Mrs. Clark’s house to think about unpleasant stuff like that.

    On a serious note:  How are you doing?  Do you need anything?  Mrs. Clark is always available, you know.  She’s only an email away!

    On a not so serious note:

    A dung beetle walks into a bar and asks,

    “Is this stool taken?”  Ha ha!  Get it?  Because a stool is a seat, and it’s also another name for poop!  LOL

    Mrs. Clark apologizes again for the Fluffy Little Chipmunk’s terrible sense of humor.  Even though he’s living with her now, she still has no control over him.

    Comments (-1)
  • Beauty on Four Wings

    Posted by Diane Clark on 6/3/2020 8:00:00 AM

    Hello!  Fluffy Little Chipmunk here!  Guess what?  Two days from now the mascots and I are taking a trip.  We’re moving to Mrs. Clark’s house!  It will be good to see her again.  We haven’t seen Mrs. Clark since March 13th!  I hope she has snacks.

    Speaking of Mrs. Clark, guess what she saw flying over the pond yesterday?  A dragonfly!  It was a really big one, kind of a khaki green color.  It reminded Mrs. Clark of a big old army helicopter.

    army green dragonfly

    I used to use the word “dragonflies” for a whole group of similar looking insects, but it turns out that some of them aren’t dragonflies after all, they’re damselflies!

    dragonfly vs damselfly

    How do you tell them apart? Well, both dragonflies and damselflies have transparent wings, so that’s no help.  But look at their wings when they land.  When you see a dragonfly resting on a leaf, its wings are spread out.

    pink dragonfly

    A damselfly, on the other hand, rests its wings all tucked in next to its body.

    blue damselfly

    The one that Mrs. Clark saw was definitely a dragonfly.  Dragonflies, Order Anisoptera, are insects, so they have 6 legs, 4 wings, a head, a thorax, and an abdomen.  Did you know that all winged insects have 4 wings?  It’s true!

    fruit fly

    Dragonflies come in a huge variety of colors including blue, green, yellow, and red. They’re some of the most colorful insects on the planet! They also come in a range of sizes from half an inch long to over 5 inches long. 

    big dragonfly

    That’s a big dragonfly!

    Dragonflies have been around for 300 million years. Prehistoric dragonflies were much larger and could have a wingspan of 2 ½ feet!  Yikes!  

    This is a fossil dragonfly.

    dragonfly fossil

    Dragonflies are predators, and they like to eat mosquitoes and gnats. They eat other types of insects too, including cicadas, flies, and even other smaller dragonflies.  

    dragonfly eating bee

    In turn, other predators, like fish, ducks, birds, and water beetles eat them, so they’re really an important part of a pond food web.  

    praying mantis eating dragonfly

    That's a praying mantis eating a dragonfly.

    Dragonflies go through metamorphosis (the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form in two or more stages). 

    dragonfly metamorphosis

    The female lays eggs in water, 

    female laying eggs

    dragonfly eggs

    the egg hatches into a nymph that lives in the water, 

    dragonfly nymph

    the nymph climbs out of the water, sheds its exoskeleton,

    dragonfly emerging

    and out emerges the adult dragonfly! 

    adult dragonfly

    Some dragonflies and damselflies are really gorgeous.

    red dragonfly

    pretty blue damselfly

    I wish I could fly.  Do you think I could if I had four wings?  How about six?  Or eight? Or twelve?

    Wait a minute!  I think I’ve got it!

    chipmunks flying

    Yes.  That’s exactly how a chipmunk can fly.  I hope there’s lots of helium at Mrs. Clark’s house.

    On a serious note:  How are you doing?  Do you need anything?  Your teachers are all here for you every day, you know.

    On a not so serious note:       

    What do you call a dragonfly with no wings?

    A dragonwalk!  Ha ha!  Get it? LOL

    Mrs. Clark apologizes again for the fluffy little chipmunk’s dreadful sense of humor.

    Comments (-1)

Mrs. Clark's Science Page

  • The stuff below is just what was always on my website.  If you want older Fluffy Little Chipmunk blogs, those are on the right.  -->

    Did you miss science class, do you need to catch up on vocabulary, or did you lose a paper? 

    <--Just click on the "Handouts" over there for all the papers we use in class.

    <-- Over there is "Work for Absent Students" with a page describing what we did in class each day.

    <-- Want the team homework?  It's over there!

    (Oh yeah... there are photos of my pets on here, too!)

    Do you just love science?  I've got some cool links on the bottom.  Check 'em out!

                                                  Mrs. Clark