2nd Graders learn about life cycles and how seeds travel

The second graders were very enthusiastic this fall, braving the elements to learn outside!
The students were very keen to share their knowledge of the changing seasons, in particular discussing the signs of autumn. They were encouraged to search for those many different signs of fall and share with the other members of their group.

It was wonderful for them to make the connection of the life cycle of plants and insects, specifically going back to their lesson from first grade, that of the milkweed plant and the important part it plays in attracting monarch butterflies. The herb garden is always a popular area, the students enjoying the smells of the different herbs!

With the many different signs of fall, the notion of seed dispersal was prevalent in their discoveries. They loved learning about the different ways seeds travel and finding out that the creation of Velcro was inspired by the bur!

In the vegetable garden, we found seeds in the flower buds of the giant weeds, in the dried up flowers of the garlic chives, and where the flowers used to be on the dill. We also saw tiny baby dill plants growing where the seeds were falling on the soil.

We even saw some tomato plants that grew from where tomatoes had dropped to the ground last year.

Thank you to all of our parent volunteers for making these garden visits possible!

Second Grade Hands-on Science Program

On September 28th the second graders got to investigate some incredible plants brought by the “Plantmobile,” a visiting plant science program from Mass Horticultural Society. Mass Hort’s Director of Education, Katie Folts, presented a program on Habitats and Ecosystems to each second grade class to kick off their science curriculum

Students reviewed what plants need to grow and what makes a habitat. They observed several plants that grow in very different habitats – tropical, desert, forest, and wetland – and made a nature journal to record their observations.

Working in groups, students thought about how a plant’s shape or special features might help it to grow well in its habitat.

They learned about some incredible plant adaptations, such as tropical plants with leaves shaped to shed excess rainwater, and desert plants that store water inside their leaves and stems. Did you know that the pitcher plant traps and digests insects because it needs more nutrients than are available in wetland soils?

The second grade classes look forward to practicing their plant observation and nature journaling skills again when they visit the school gardens this fall.

Thank you to all the parent volunteers who came in to help the classes, to the Foundation for Belmont Education (FBE) for funding this visiting science program, and to Katie Folts of Mass Horticultural Society for an engaging science investigation.

2nd Graders learn about soil

Second graders headed out to the school gardens, imagining they were aliens from another planet on a mission to find out what soil is made of, so they could start growing food on their planet. 

In the Garden Classroom they dug soil samples and identified some components they could see. Students wondered what might be in soil that we cannot see, and observed that soil is a mixture of dead and living things. 

They compared soil samples from two different sites (a garden bed and a bare slope under trees), and discovered that soil varies in color, texture, and composition from place to place. To help separate out the components, the soil samples were put in a jar with water and brought into the classroom to settle into visible layers: humus will float at the top, and rock/sand particles will sink to the bottom.

Students investigated compost at different stages of decomposition, and learned how dead plants return nutrients to the soil to help other plants grow. They observed worms and centipedes and other decomposers that help with breaking down the compost.

In the vegetable garden they pulled up and composted the winter cover crops to get the garden ready for spring and they also planted peas. Peas, and other legumes, have the special ability to take nitrogen from the air and turn it into nitrogen in the soil that the plants can use to help them grow. In the presence of a certain bacteria in the soil, they grow nodules on their roots in which they make their own fertilizer. So in a couple months, we’ll have tasty peas, and healthier soil!

These hands-on investigations provide memorable connections to support students’ science learning. Thank you to the volunteers who helped make the activities possible: Doug Brenhouse, Xinqi Gong, Gail Barry, Candace Webb, Katie Sbay, Kim Foster, and Harriet Wong.