Monday, 19 October 2009

(Mostly) Deserts and (a little about) wetlands

We didn't achieve as much school work as I would have thought today, however, I'll share some of what we did discuss during our science lesson from this afternoon.

[NB: The bulk of our lesson covered
Deserts although
we did touch on Wetlands also.

I have more notes on deserts because I don't know much about deserts. Considering we only have Rangipo Desert (known more affectionately as Desert Road), it is the closest NZ has to a desert but that's only because of the poor soil quality and drying winds.

One of the first things I [we] learned about was something called a "Rain Shadow". Some deserts are made from what's called the rain shadow effect. When warm moist air rises over the mountains, its water vapour condenses into rain or snow. The mountains catch all the moisture so the air reaching the other side is dry as a desert.

The next thing we learned were some of the animals found in a desert. Okay, I've at least heard of Roadrunners and Jack Rabbits but I didn't know why the Jack Rabbit has such big ears!!! Well ...
You know how a car radiator cools off hot water from the engine? Some desert animals have big ears which do the same thing. When the warm blood moves through their big ears it gets cooled off in the same way...
Some of the animals I've never heard of before are Collared Lizards, Gila Monster or a Horned Lizard. I admit also that I didn't even realise there was such a thing as a Desert Tortoise!!! I couldn't see how a tortoise could handle the heat ... Hello!!!! They have an underground shelter (yes, a tortoise burrow). How clever's that?! Here's me thinking they only live near water!!!!

I did at least know that when the sun goes down the desert totally changes, ie different animals appear.

Oh, here's another animal I hadn't heard of ... Peccary - a desert relative of a pig!!! I think they come out at night? Could be wrong about that, but hey, it's okay to be wrong ... like I tell the kids all the time ... we learn from our mistakes.

So we learned that animals learn to run fast, or have spikes to avoid being eaten. Put another way ... Everything in the desert has adaptations to help cope with life in the desert.

And of course, we talked about the fact that although it may not rain often in the desert, it does receives some water at some point in time. One of the most prominent plants we would ever associate with a desert is cacti. We learned that it retains the water and has a waxy exterior to help keep that moisture in.

Really clever how the plants and animals adapted to meet their requirements. It's all a case of survival.

So, okay, like I said at the beginning, the bulk of our lesson we spent on deserts because there was a lot to learn. Wetlands we are somewhat more familiar with, and the vital role they have for many species of wildlife. Without their wetland environment, they simply wouldn't survive. Plus the plants themselves have an important role, eg cleaning the water that passes through to streams and rivers etc.

Anyway, we may not have spent a great deal of our day doing formal 'classroom' type activities, but I will happily say we did actually learn "something".

Gosh, I know I did at least!!!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

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