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.

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Darwin & The Field Mouse - Lesson Ideas

1)  Teach about food chains. Play computer food chain games

including a producer consumer and decomposer game. Make a food chain

mobile.  Use the RSPB method as an example, but use the food chain

represented in the story.  Watch a video showing the impact of field on

bumble bees in Darwin's garden.

 

2) Look at and use the resources of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

Check out Bumblebee Kids. Watch a bumblebee life cycle cartoon video. If you have some local

grassland (open to the public) where clover grows, ask the children to watch bees visiting the flowers.  How many visits does a particular clover flower get in ten minutes?  How long do individual bumblee bees stay for on each flower head?  Compare results.  Does the number of visits fall over time?  (Less nectar  becomes available).  How many different types (species) of bumblebee do you see? (Use an identification sheet eg. Field Studies Council). Alternatively watch a video of a bumble bee visiting a red clover.  Find out about the current threats to bumblebees.

 

3) Look at close-ups of Red clover flower structure. Read an extract of Darwin's writings in relation to his experiment with Red clover. Repeat Darwin's experiments on Red cover on a smaller scale .  Buy some Red clover plants or use plants growing nearby.  

 

Why not buy and plant some Aquilegia plants (early Spring)? (Weblink stating that Aqueligia is not poisonous to children; just make sure children do not consume quantities of seeds and roots!). Look at the different parts of the flower. Cover some unopened flowers with muslin and leave others to be open to pollination by bees or other insects.  Do both treatments to the flowers result in seeds developing?  Possibly the answer is yes! The plant has both male and female parts and are known to self pollinate.  But are as many seeds produced in the covered flowers as in the uncovered flowers?  Possiby not, the spread of pollen from other Aquilegia plants by insects may result in the more successful production of seeds.

 

SUMMARY OF LEARNING POINTS IN THE STORY

 

*Each species does not exist alone, but forms part of a web of relationships.  The red clover, bumble bee, field mouse and cat have interrelated lives.

* Each species forms part of a food-chain.  All living things need food to give them the energy to grow, move and reproduce.  A food chain shows how each living thing gets its food.

*  Some species are reliant on particular species or environmental conditions to reproduce.  The red clover is reliant on the bumble bee.

* Flowers and their pollinators have co-evolved.  Coevolution is the mutual evolutionary influence between two species (the evolution of two species totally dependent on each other).  Each of the species involved exerts 'selective' pressure on the other, so that they evolve together.   The pollinator often gets a reward such as nectar for pollinating the plant.  During the Cenozoic period (which began 65 million years ago) the first bees, butterflies, moths and wasps started appearing, conveniently at the same time as the flowering plants were diversifying.  Flowers were also specialising to attract a certain type or species of insect or animal to increase the chances of pollination.  In the case of Red clover, bumble bees.  

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