Friday, 30 September 2016

Tree hunting and Harewood House (Class 4)

 On Tuesday this week we ventured out into Harewood village on an arboreal mission - to correctly identify as many trees as possible! Using our trusty guides we followed the decision tree although this required a good knowledge of the related terminology (e.g. whether the leaves were pinnate or palmate, simple or compound and so on) which we had covered in class earlier in the week.

 We used the leaves to help us but our guide sheets also had information and images about other aspects such as the stems, branches, fruits, buds and seeds. Can you identify these trees using the picture?

 The children were really engrossed in this learning - it involved very careful reading of the clues and very keen observational skills too. 

 Before returning to school, the groups shared their findings, including providing evidence for disagreements. Only if the group were convinced they could identify the tree correctly were the allowed to return a sample to the classroom....
 We then collated our work.

 The children then had to label the leaves / seeds with as much accurate scientific, technical terminology as possible. Their descriptions aimed to include every feature of the leaf that led them to their conclusion.

 Several children realised that they had so many samples that they needed to use their guides again to carefully check their work was accurate (which it was).
 By Wednesday we had completed our 'working wall' which included an interactive 'name the tree' feature using the left-over samples - here it is in action!
 On Thursday we also left the school site to go and visit Harewood House. In the morning we visited the bird garden.
 There were some incredible species of birds from all over the world....

 A couple even spoke to us!!

 In the spirit of Darwin, we set about drawing the birds which fascinated us the most, making note of the name, distinguishing features and location/habitat.
 While one group sketched, the other received a great tour from the staff at the bird garden, focusing much of their talk on evolutionary adaptations - this was absolutely fascinating and the children had some great questions. One question, for instance, led us to discover that birds such as penguins develop scales and teeth in the embryonic stages which are later 'absorbed' at the creature develops but give us a glimpse into their evolutionary past - cool!

 Here we observed some ladybirds and the children were fascinated to learn that even they can be predators and that their larvae take such a different form.

The children showed some great knowledge at the penguin area, including why penguins sunbathe with their backs to the sun (!) and why they are white on their front but black on their backs. This impressed John!
 The Year 5 group were shown round by Nick who was also very informative - firstly we looked at domesticated breeds and he explained about the process of selective breeding.

 Meanwhile, it was Year 6's turn to create some fantastic observational drawings.

 We didn't ignore the sign - don't worry! This bird (a brown lory) primarily feeds on nectar from flowers, using a very specialised tongue, although the keepers said they had to use supplements as they couldn't keep up with its appetite!

Quick chance to pose with a penguin....

 ...and then it was time for some well-earned lunch. Luckily the sun came out (as we had some heavy downpours in the morning) and we were able to continue with the rest of our day.
After lunch, we went to an enclosed garden area and played a tree finding team game. Each of the three adults were given two sub-teams who were pitted against each other to see who could provide evidence of correctly identified trees. We used our guides once more and played for about half an hour and the reason I didn't catch any photos was because of the enthusiasm and speed at which the children were presenting us with their evidence!

To round off a really fun and successful trip the children were allowed a quick play on the adventure playground which led to my favourite quote of the day ('I'm having too much fun!').

Today we have been extending our understanding of the birds that we studied in the bird garden with further follow-up work - what a fantastic week of scientific discovery it has been!