Hi! My name is Ms. Armstrong! Please travel with me to New Orleans to study Climate Change and Caterpillars!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So Sorry!

Students! I am on my way to the airport, but want to say that I am sorry that I could not get Blogger to work yesterday so you have no pictures from me today :( I tried many, many times but was unable to make it work. Check Ms. Hall's blog to see what we did in the city of New Orleans, OK? I have many pictures to show you after I get home. Sorry! I will see you tomorrow.
Mrs. Armstrong

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Last day in the Wetlands :(

Hello students! I hope you had a good weekend! Here's the end of the wetland photos you'll see on my blog :( This is the last day we'll be able to go out and collect caterpillars in this amazing place.

Good-bye scientists! I really admire how hard they work so people can understand and learn from the natural world. They never stop learning or asking questions. They took their books into the wetlands with them every day!
Do you see the caterpillars walking on the tree above? Hundreds of caterpillars fell out of the tree that Ms. Hall was hitting with a stick. This was one way we collected caterpillars. Ms. Hall looks like she's having fun, but Ms. Lombadi was not as happy holding the "beat sheet" (below).

Good-bye Crawfish!

We teachers collected as many caterpillars as we could in a few days.
Ms. Hazen and Mr. Fox will be doing this for a lot longer...maybe years.

Have a good time looking at the pictures, then write a paragraph in your notebook about what you learned so far. Write about what you think the wetlands looks like, sounds like, feels like and smells like based upon what you've seen and learned. I'll be seeing you soon! Mrs. Armstrong


Weekend, Day 2, In the Lab

Hi students! Science is not all fun. Sometimes it is long hours of doing work that must be done. We spent the day in the laboratory going through the many, many caterpillars we found the day before. Every caterpillar has to be looked at carefully every day. We feed them, clean their bags of "frass", and record changes that we see. Sometimes we record that the caterpillar died, maybe from parasatoids. Sometimes we record that they are beginning to pupate, which means they are making a cocoon. Look below and notice that scientists look carefully and concentrate on what they are doing so they understand and learn.
Ms. Larson using a magnifying glass to find a very small caterpillar.

Can you see that the caterpillar (above) has started to make a cocoon inside the plastic bag? Soon we will not be able to see him because he will put lots more silk around himself. Then the scientists will wait to see him come out as a butterfly in a couple weeks.
Some days it seemed like we'd never finish looking at all the caterpillars. Above Ms. Larson and Ms. Lombardi put data into the scientist's computer.

The microscope and camera are always close by. Ms. Hazen must document everything she does so other scientists around the world can look at her pictures and learn from what she's doing.

At the end of the day, Dr. Lee Dyer from the University of Nevada came to speak to us. He thanked us for helping him with his research, and he explained why it is so important. I'll tell you more about that when I return. It was great to hear him talk about his work and to ask him questions. He's a very smart man, and very nice, too.

Tomorrow I will only send a short blog with just a couple pictures of New Orleans. We'll be working hard in the lab again on Monday and then packing up to return to Minnesota. The time has gone by fast, by it's been a real good experience. I'm looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday. Mrs. Armstrong


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Frass and Tracks Report

Good Morning Students! I was only in the wetlands in the afternoon today, so I have less to report. Thank you for your wonderful comments! It has been so much fun to share this adventure with you.

River Otter
Many of you guessed that yesterday's animal tracks were of an alligator. Good guess, but not correct. The top track was of a raccoon, and the 2nd one was a river otter track. Both of these animals live in the wetlands because there are lots of crawfish there to eat :)

alligator tracks (notice the tail track, too)
Alligator tracks are different, partly because you can see the tail of the alligator dragging behind it.
crawfish habitat
crawfish etouffee (a New Orleans special food)
The crawfish (some people say crayfish, but NOT people in New Orleans) live in shallow water hiding under logs or rocks. Above is a picture of where crawfish live (their habitat), real crawfish (ready to cook) and a food called crawfish etouffee that people in New Orleans love to eat. I hope to eat some when we go back to the city next week.
Buckmoth caterpillar
The hand of Scientist Mark Fox after a Buckmoth caterpillar sting

Finally, about caterpillars again :) , above is a Buckmoth. It's very beautiful, but as a caterpillar, its spines that can really be painful because they have a poison inside them. Look at what happened to Mark Fox after he was stung.

Well, that's all for today. I'm very happy to hear that you are being respectful in class and learning all you can. Be good to each other, and help each other.
Mrs. Armstrong

P.S. Most of you guessed that frass is caterpillar poop, and you're right!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dear Students, I am very tired tonight, so I will see how long I can stay awake to write you and send pictures. We left early in the morning in kayaks and traveled down the Pearl River to a place where our scientist is doing her caterpillar research. I love to travel in a kayak and the weather was perfect. Getting out of the kayak was the problem. There was lots of mud that was very slippery and hard to walk on. I'm so glad I have my rubber boots!

We spent the day collecting caterpillars and counting leaves to see how much of the plants were eaten, and what kind of plants caterpillars like best. We didn't find as many kinds of caterpillars today, though.
I did see animal tracks. Try to guess what animals made the tracks. I am trying to ask people here too, because I don't know yet. I found a little bird nest made of tree bark with 4 beautiful eggs. We also saw crayfish, which both people and other animals of Louisiana eat. Finally, see if you can find the picture with black spots on the ground. It's called caterpillar frass. Can you guess what that is?

We all came home tired today...you can see one of the scientists relaxing in his kayak on the way back. He relaxed until we saw our last animal. That's when we all paddled away as fast as we could. I got a picture of it ( a huge, bull alligator) just before he jumped into the water near us. Honestly, we were all pretty scared, but he swam in the opposite direction. I'm glad to be back inside our bunkhouse, and to be clean! :)

Thank you for your comments to me, kids. I love to hear from you! I know you all have questions, and I will answer them the best I can when I get home. Mrs. A.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday, 4/20/10

Good Morning, students! I'm sending you another beautiful view of the wetlands. It really is beautiful here, and so different than Minnesota. I am learning a lot, and I hope you are learning many things while I'm gone, too.

This morning was spent working in the caterpillar zoo. Really it's a laboratory where we clean out the caterpillar bags and give them more fresh food to eat. Most importantly, we are writing down any changes we see and looking for parasitoids. What do you think a parasitoid is? I'll try to show you some in a day or two.
One way to get caterpillars out of trees or bushes is to use a "beat sheet" and a stick. Can you guess how it works?
In the afternoon, we went back into the wetlands for more caterpillars. We've been lucky, because it hasn't been too hot. (You know I don't like to be hot, especially when I have wear long sleeves and pants.) When we find a caterpillar, we put them in a baggie with air and their "host" plant. (A host plant is the one that they are eating and living on.) On the baggie we write the date, their common and scientific name, the name of the host plant and where they were found.

The bunch of caterpillars you see on the tree above are moving back and forth because they aren't happy. The carpenter ants on the tree are predators and will try to kill them. Do you see them? The dark, black caterpillars in the top picture will become Buck Moths. They are dangerous and can sting. How do you think they sting people?

Well, that's all for today kids. Tomorrow, I'll be going into the wetlands on a kayak. Do you know what that is? Well, I'll send you some more pictures soon. Take care! I think of you all every day. Mrs. Armstrong