June 22, 2016

This week Purple Room kids got to experiment with our new RHP microscope! This has been so thrilling for everyone. We started out with a mosquito that I caught. It has so many little hairs! We were also able to isolate the very part that bites us - it looks sharp and angry! We checked out several pre-prepared slides. Dog stomach, pine stem, mushroom, lily anther are just some of the many specimens we looked at. It was really fun to focus on one thing and then change the magnification to make it even bigger. This work really opens up conversations about how the inside of things are structured. 

"It looks like a river!" 

"It looks like grass."

"Looks like bubbles!" 

Our microscope can be hooked up to a screen so we can be looking through it individually as well as looking at the screen with a group. We started to think about what kinds of things we'd like to make into our own slides. We tried a strawberry leaf and a lemon rind. 

Though we have finished our coral reef investigation, we wanted to spend these last days having conversations with the kids about an important part of studying coral reefs: reef conservation. Yesterday, we showed the kids photographs of damaged coral reefs:

We asked them what they thought had happened to the coral; responses included:

"The sun made the color disappear."

"Sharks came near the coral and ate the color off."

"Coral scratched against other coral."

Today, we told them that the coral in the photos was dead. We also presented one of the reasons so much coral has been dying lately: pollution. We talked about the different types of pollution that humans have put into the ocean: garbage, oil, chemicals, etc, and how even touching coral spreads oil from our hands onto it, endangering its life. We asked the kids how they might help to stop the spread of pollution into the ocean. Many of them were vocal about how if they spotted people throwing garbage into the water, they would approach them to ask them to stop, and also give details about what they knew the garbage did to coral. We also talked about how we can always pick up garbage that we see ourselves, regardless of where it is. Nora wondered if there might be ways that we could make less garbage, and we will continue to ponder this. 

The kids were very surprised to hear about the ways coral is in danger, and their professions of future protection and activism were heartfelt. We'll continue to talk about these issues over the next few days - though our remaining time is brief, it felt important to us to incorporate this aspect of reefs however we were able. Ask your child to tell you about today's conversation!