Hi! My name is Ms. Hall. Please travel with me to New Orleans to study Climate Change and Caterpillars!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

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Monday, April 26, 2010

New Orleans City Life

During our week working in the swamp, we collected about 900 caterpillars! It was a wonderful experience and we learned so much.

Yesterday, we returned to New Orleans and had some time to enjoy a little city life. Here are pictures of some of the places we visited. As you can see, we have been doing a lot of eating! We sampled beignets and chickory coffee at Cafe du Monde.

Later, we went to the Jazz Festival where Ms. Armstrong was brave enough to have an alligator sandwich for lunch. The part she ate was from the tail of the alligator. I tried a little piece and it tasted like fish.

We have been traveling around the city on a streetcar. It's fun and a convenient way to get around. This morning we had some work to do at the lab at Tulane University. We took some time to walk around the campus and had lunch at the student union. Tulane is a private university with about 15,000 students. The campus is beautiful with lots of trees and many old brick buildings. Tonight, we will have a crawfish dinner and say goodbye to all of our new friends. See you all soon!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Advice for Scientists of the Future

I'm so proud of all of you for being great representatives of Humboldt last week.
All of
the teachers and scientists here have been very impressed with your respectful attitudes, hard work and great questions. I have read all of the Comments you wrote in the computer lab. Good job on the Planet Green Game! I could tell that you have learned a lot about global warning and climate change.

This morning I interviewed Mark and Rebecca using the questions that YOU wrote. I hope that their words will inspire some of you to become the scientists of the future.

Rebecca Hazen, age 32, was born in Binghamton, New York. When she graduated from high school, she wasn't sure what she wanted to do. She decided to go to a local community college, but she didn't study very hard and even skipped classes once in a while. One day, a teacher asked her to stay after class. He asked her why she didn't take school seriously. He said that he noticed in the lab that she "thought like a scientist" and encouraged her to consider science as a career.

She decided to transfer to a 4-year college called State University of New York (SUNY) - Cortland where she had a major in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. She paid for college with student loans and some help from her grandfather. She is now working on a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Tulane University. She sometimes spends long hours in the lab, but her schedule is flexible. By the time she finishes, she will have been in college for 12 years!

She hopes to become a university professor someday. Rebecca loves her work because you never know how experiments will turn out, and new questions constantly come up.

Rebecca's advice for high school students: When something seems dif
ficult, stay with it. You never know what new adventures and opportunities are just around the corner.

Mark Fox, age 33, is from Maryland. As a high school student, he got a good score on his PSAT test, so he received a scholarship to attend the University of Maryland. He got a bachelor's degree in Biology and a Master's degree in Parasitology. Now he is working toward a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Tulane University.

He says that his interest in becoming a scientist came from watching Indiana Jones movies. When he was 12 years old, he got the idea of becoming a botanist and going to the jungle to study plants. He later decided to study bugs instead! He loves being outdoors and with people who like learning new things. He is currently studying how the flooding of saltwater marshes affect plants, insects and other members of the food web.

Mark's advice for high school students: Talk to your teachers
and professors and get to know them. Look for volunteer opportunities in your field.

Yesterday, we paddled our kayaks to work on a plot along the West Pearl River. Luckily, we didn't meet "El Guapo" (our 15-foot alligator friend) along the way. I've included a picture of me hitting a branch with a stick, while another teacher holds the beat sheet over her head. Look at the expression on her face as the caterpillars fall like rain! Can you find some on the sheet?

Tomorrow, we will leave the swamp and head back to New Orleans. I need to be careful that none of the caterpillars crawl into my suitcase!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Meet the Scientists!

Hello Students!

It was great seeing some of you and talking with you today. Thanks for being prepared with great questions. I've also enjoyed reading all of your comments on the blog. I have taken lots of photos, and I can't wait to share them with you when I return.

Here is your assignment for today in the Computer Lab. There are two parts to the assignment. Please work hard and do your best.


Part 1: We are working with two wonderful young scientists named Rebecca Hazen and Mark Fox. Scientists who study caterpillars and butterflies are called lepidopterists.
of three (3) questions that you would like to ask these scientists. You can ask them questions about their backgrounds, education or jobs. Type your questions in the Comments section of this blog.

Part 2: Click here to play the Planet Green Game. You will learn about how to make good environmental choices and reduce climate change. When you finish, tell me how many points you received. Type your total in the Comments section of this blog.

Keep up the good work --- see you soon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

I am so excited to celebrate EARTH DAY in Louisiana along with other teachers and scientists who are working to save our environment. Do something nice for the earth today!

This morning our group divided into two teams. One team went kayaking today. My team stayed back to care for the caterpillars in our zoo and to enter new data into the computer. After a morning of hard work in the lab, we were ready to get outdoors.

All of you gave great answers to my questions about data and plot. Actually, the word plot has two meanings. The meaning you gave was correct. Another meaning is "a measured area of land." This afternoon, our team went out to work in a new plot.

This plot was near a beautiful bayou, so I took a few pictures.What do you think lives in this hollowed out tree? We didn't see any alligators, but we did see two wild pigs and
a cottonmouth snake!

The picture below shows me using a beat sheet. I hit the branch with a stick and then collect all the caterpillars that fall down.

You said that you enjoyed the video, so I've included another one of a caterpillar called the Holly Looper. In the background, you can hear us talking about the caterpillar's family, Geometridae. I hope to talk with some of you on Skype today. Have your questions ready!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The New Caterpillar Zoo

Thanks for all your great comments! I've really enjoyed reading them.

Wow! We collected 98 caterpillars yesterday. That meant a lot of work for us this morning. We had to enter the scientific and common name of each caterpillar into the computer, along with its size and where we found it. This data will be very useful for scientists in the future. With teamwork, we were able to get the job done in about three hours.

Then we hung the plastic bags with the caterpillars in our new Caterpillar Zoo. We will clean the bags each day and watch them very carefully to see if the caterpillars pupate. We also have to make sure there are plenty of leaves in the bag because growing caterpillars eat a lot!

This afternoon we set up our plots in the forest. Each plot measures nine meters by nine meters. First, we had to make a list of every plant in our plot. Next, we had to count all of the leaves on each plant, including some huge trees. Finally, we had to put a big piece of cloth called a "beat sheet" under each tree and hit the tree with a stick. We collected the caterpillars that fell onto the cloth. Look at Ms. Armstrong's blog to see a picture of this.

1. What does the word data mean? Why is it important for scientists to record data correctly?

2. What is a plot? Use the context of the word or the dictionary to find the meaning.

Here are the answers to yesterday's questions. 1. The plastic bags contain hungry caterpillars and some leaves for food. 2. The Buck Moth caterpillars have tiny spines that can sting you very badly. 3. The hole in the ground was made by a crayfish.

Hope you enjoy this short video of dancing caterpillars. Please let me know if it works. Wish you were all here. See you soon!


Monday, April 19, 2010

First Day in the Swamp

Hello Students! How exciting to hear your comments and your answers to the questions I asked. Ms. Armstrong and I spent the whole day at a place called Honey Island Swamp. We also went to "caterpillar school." The scientists showed us many pictures of caterpillars and we figured out the names of the ones we have found so far.

Good work! The plants you saw in yeste
rday's blog were Spanish moss and cypress knees (the roots of the tree). The beautiful blue caterpillar is called the Forest Tent Caterpillar. Today we saw more than 100 of these caterpillars marching in line up a big tree.

The weather was rainy yesterday, but today it is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny. We DID see our first alligator this afternoon, but we weren't too close. Look on Ms. Armstrong's blog to see it!

1. What do you think Ms. Hall has in the plastic bags?

2. Look at these Buck Moth caterpillars carefully. How do you think they protect themselves?

3. What do you think liv
es in this hole?

Keep up the great work!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Greetings from New Orleans!

Ms. Armstrong and I arrived safely in New Orleans and set out early this morning to explore nearby Audubon Park. We thought you'd enjoy a few photos of our discoveries. We also have a few questions to ask you.

1. How do you like Ms. Hall's new hairstyle? What is this plant, and why is it often called air plant?

2. Look at the strange bumps around the bottom of this tree. What kind of tree is this? What are the bumps called?

3. Is this a caterpillar or a blue runner snake? Should Ms. Hall take a closer look or run away fast?

Go to Ms. Arm
strong's blog for some amazing bird and caterpillar photos. I look forward to reading your comments!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bayou Bound!

Today you'll see three different slide shows featuring Louisiana flora and fauna. Imagine that you are a scientist, and observe carefully as you watch each one. Your assignment is to write a paragraph of 6-8 sentences describing what you have seen. Follow the blogging guidelines that we discussed.

#1 - Bayous, Lakes and Swamps

#2 - Alligators

#3 - Caterpillars

Are you ready? In less than two weeks, we'll set off on our Louisiana adventure together. I'm excited . . . and a little bit nervous. How about you?


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Be a Better Blogger

The word blog is short for web log. When your writing is published in a blog, millions of people around the world can see it. Your words represent you, your school and your community. That's why it's important to think carefully about what you write in a blog.

1 - Use standard English when you post comments on a blog. Don't use text-talk, abbreviations or street language. Write in complete sentences, and be sure to use capital letters and punctuation. Do your best to spell correctly and type without mistakes.

NO! Ms. Hall UR brave cuz their iz alligator in LA

YES! Ms. Hall, you are brave because there are alligators in Louisiana.

2 - Make thoughtful comments about the blog you are reading. Start your sentences with words like:

I think _____ because . . .
I wonder why . . .
I noticed that . . .
It's strange that . . .
It's amazing that . . .
Can you believe that . . . ?
I love the way that . . .

NO! That caterpillar look ugly.

YES! It's strange that some caterpillars look like dead leaves. I wonder why they don't have bright colors like yellow and red. Maybe their color helps them hide from predators.

3 - Post your comments as Anonymous instead of using your full name. This is for your safety. After you write your comment, type your first name only, followed by your class period. Be sure to post your comments on the blog that is closest to today's date.

NO! Cheng Thao
YES! Cheng, Period 1

I hope that you all enjoy my blog and
I look forward to reading your comments!
Ms. Hall