For today’s Ecology Club, we took a small walk but covered a vast distance. @jamesisland, @sassygirl26, and @alonalearning walked a few hundred yards down the road with attention to our environment. Our focus were the trees and plants.

    Immediately we noticed a Magnolia tree Magnolia grandiflora, each one of us was familiar with Magnolias. Even without their enchanting flowers these trees are distinctive. We noted the waxy leaf, with fuzzy ridges, ,and large fruit pods scattered on the ground.


    The giant leaves are lighter underneath @alonalearning observed, and when we held them up to the light we could see their cells. This got me chattering about plant and animal cells. Even to the naked eye they are different but here is a nifty illustration with labels as well.


    Plant Cell
    Plant Cell

    Animal Cell
    Animal Cell

    And here is the website with hyperlinked definitions.

    Across the street was an Eastern Redbud Cercis canadensis. @sassygirl26 noticed the pods and they reminded her of cacao. They do have common traits and @sassygirl26 picked up on this subtle relation. Redbuds belong to the family Fabacea to which soybeans, chickpeas and even alfalfa belong. Cacao belongs to the family Malvacea. Hibiscus and cotton belong to this family.

    In perspective Humans, gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutangs all belong to the same family Hominide.

    Cacao and Redbuds relate within the realms of Order and Class, that’s like saying humans fall in the realms of primates and mammals.

    Wherever the connection, it was deep in the past of genetic recombination. I like this quote:
    Ranks are somewhat arbitrary, but hope to encapsulate the diversity contained within a group a rough measure of the number of diversifications that the group has been through. **
    To our question: Are Redbud seeds edible? Yes they are! And their flowers are too. Seeds can be roasted as in Native American tradition, and flowers can be boiled.

    @jamesisland was drawn to a hole in the trunk of a Willow Oak Quercus phellos. It was a whole new world down at the base of an oak tree. Lichens and moss established a mico-ecosystem right on the street corner.


    These key provide a perfect nesting ground for seeds and spores, and we saw evidence of this entangled amongst the tiny forest. Spiders appeared to have used the architecture to their advantage as well.

    Back at school we decided to do test prep. I am not smarter than a 6th grader in case no one was wondering. READ THE QUESTIONS. gah still need to learn diligence.

    At culture meeting we talked about our structures and meetings. My favorite nugget of gold was this:
    Yoda took sense of the meeting 🙂



    Our meeting was about meetings. Speaking up in groups can be difficult. Perhaps it was the presence of Yoda, members of the community spoke openly and honestly about school structures and what we can do to transform them together.

    After the Culture Group @alonalerning, @hermione, @jamesisland and I went to the park.@john joined us this time too 🙂 We took more tests and worksheets to do. And here’s some other things we did:

    Difference between manga and anime

    Sweetgum leaf

    Like a boss

    I am very grateful for the outdoor interludes.
     **Gingerich, P. D. (1987). “Evolution and the fossil record: patterns, rates, and processes”. Canadian Journal of Zoology 65

  • Some call Wednesday “the hump day” but these folks obviously never went to an ALC. I want to quote @zelda‘s reflective comment today: “Today I got to do everything I wanted to do and I am going to do it all again tomorrow!”

    Other highlights: @sassygirl26 Isabella has been working hard to pull together the fall festival and today measured the runway, invited new people to participate, and made progress in the decorations. We now have standing tree decorations thanks to some wire hangers!

    MadLibs made a comeback and together we wrote many silly and absurd stories.

    Although we didn’t get to our intention to challenge ALC NYC in Geoguessr, it was because we all were in flow with what we were doing and that is awesome. I spent a fair amount of time at the park today doing Ecology Club. It was just myself and @jamesisland but I made many new observations and here they are!

    Ecology Club

    A beautiful Dragonfly (Anisoptera) flew across our path on the way to the park. I deducted it was a Dragonfly and not a Damselfly due to its size and wing shapes. Damselflies, like their name eludes, are more delicate looking, and their wings tend to all be the same size. Dragonflies on the other hand are sturdier and their lower wing pair tends to be larger. Check out this website for more facts: Dragonflies and Damselfies

    James @jamesisland and I then played under a beautiful Mockernut Hickory Carya tomentosa


    I noticed that many of the Willow Oak Quercus phellos trees in the park had big black bands around them. They look like this:

    http://davidsonnews.net/realestate/2013/02/18/band-your-trees-this-year-if-not-look-for-those-green-worms/ http://davidsonnews.net/realestate/2013/02/18/band-your-trees-this-year-if-not-look-for-those-green-worms/%5B/caption%5D

    I’ve observed this throughout Charlotte and today researched the phenomenon when we returned to school. Turns out, Cankerworms, a pest native to North America, have become rampant over the past two decades and threaten many tree populations in the Northeast. The recent spike is attributed to the loss of natural predators and decline of other tree species… some of the many consequences of development.

    Interesting Fact! Trees are affected year round by Cankerworms but by different species depending on the season. The fall species is called Alsophila pometratiaThe city has conducted 3 aerial sprays since 1993 to reduce populations, the most recent having been in 2008. Because chemical sprays are probably not great for human and other life, the more common treatment are these tree bands. Interestingly, this management technique supports neighborhood cooperation as communities must “band-together” to prevent the pest from spreading. If you would like to learn more here is the website from which I have been paraphrasing: Cankerworm Facts

    For more about Cankerworm life cycle and how they affect trees this website has a lot of good info: I want to learn more about Cankerworms!

    Using an Audobon app I was FINALLY able to identify this tree:

    Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'

    It is an Eastern Redbud Cercis canadensis

    As usual, Red-Shouldered Hawks Buteo lineatus called above us. I’ve heard them many times before during the days, my guess it was lunchtime.

    Last Ecology Club we differentiated between Sugar Maple Acer saccharum and Red Maple Acer rubrum, and today James and I found a Sugar Maple. We collected its magnificent leaves and made this:


    Inspired by the work of this amazing artist! (Andy Goldsworthy)

    Can’t wait for more fall fun!