Are you a fan of the 19th Century
scientist, Charles Darwin?
If so, this website is for you!
This website aims to draw together key publications, media and websites on Charles Darwin for the enthusiast.
1) Look at picture of tendrils of the white bryony.
Look at pictures of different plants that have tendrils eg. clematis
sweet peas, pea plants, pumpkins, vines, runner beans, cucumbers.
Look at a video of some growing. Buy one of these plants and ask
children to monitor the growth of the plants and their tendrils - how fast
do they grow? Record this scientifically.
2) Look out for various native climbers in local hedgerows and
woodlands - what techniques do they use to climb? Hooks for bramble,
stem 'suckers' for ivy etc. Look at information collated about climbing plants by Darwin (check out 'Climbing Plants' by Darwin, 'Shropshire & Downe: Two Landscapes Darwin Held Dear' page 157-160, where there is also lists of climbing species found he hedgerows in Downe). Find out about the species he studied. Read a paragraph from one of Darwin's letters about why tendrils spiral. Watch this video of Darwin's climbing plants.
3) Find out about the life and habitat of badgers. Visit the Badger Trust website for information and teaching ideas. Consider a timeline for the different geological time periods, including when badgers appeared. Look at photos of a badger skeleton and skull and this impression picture. Look at an example of a badger fossil. and find out about the badger's origins. Look at types of ways in which fossils are preserved.
Look at the BBC diagrams showing how dinosaur bones become preserved. What fossils have been found in your local area (contact local museum)? Make a 'fossil' using clay. Make an 'impression' of a plant or animal (eg. fern, snail shell) or use Plaster of Paris.
4) Create a wormery, placing some dead leaves onto the surface. How quickly do the leaves disappear underground? Look at the channels at the side of the tank. What benefits do earthworms bring to soil and plant growth? Visit OPAL to find out how to undertake an earthworm survey. Ask children to play Earthworm Frenzy. Are they as good at catching earthworms as badgers? Providing conditions are right, a badger can eat 20,000 worms in a year. Watch this Springwatch video about earthworms. Jimmy Doherty's 'In Darwin's Garden' (Episode 3: Of Apes and Men) presents some of Darwin's experiments on earthworms (only available through purchase on line).
SUMMARY OF LEARNING POINTS IN THE STORY
* Forms of plants vary; some can develop specialised parts. The tendril in white bryony is a modified leaf Strasburger's Textbook of Botany (1971 edition) assets that Bryonia tendrils follow the common Cucurbitaceae form of being derived from a leaf reduced to a mid-rib. Other authorities seem to claim the tendrils on bryony to be a modified bract carried on a modified shoot (Troll, W, 1939, Vergleichende Morphologie der hoheren Pflanzen Bd 1, 2 Gebr. Borntraeger Verlag, Berlin).
* Animals that survive with appropriate adaptations to their environment can reproduce and so pass on favourable traits. A stripy badger proved successful in the environment millions of years ago and therefore the stripy badger could reproduce and pass on its stripy characteristics to successive generations.
* The Pliocene is a period in the geological timescale that extends from 5.33 million to 2.58 million years before present.
* Species that are well adapted to the environment may appear unchanged for long periods in the fossil record.
* Even small creatures, such as the earthworm, can play an important role in influencing their environment. They can also be an important component of food chains.