This week's outdoor challenge was to go back and look at the tree we are following this year. Our tree (an Oak) had many brown leaves still on it. We were really surprised to see leaves still on it considering all of the high winds we get around here. The kids studied their fall drawings and added winter drawings in their nature journals. They also did some bark rubbings. We are going to go back with a pruning shear and get a branch that we can put into water and try to get the buds to bloom.
We also went on a wonderful nature walk at a local waterfall. The ice around the water fall was actually blue. I had to go research why that was and found out that, basically, ice acts as a filter. If it is thin, all of the light hits the ice and reflects white; but if if is really thick, then visible light gets absorbed into the ice, with yellow and red at the beginning of the spectrum, and blue is what remains to be seen.* See footnote for more detailed explanation. Very cool. This is one of the things I really love about homeschooling! All of us are learning something new.
The stairs were so slippery and still covered with ice. You really cannot see how blue the ice was in these pictures. It was really neat to see.
On this same adventure, we also went to our local fish hatchery. It was so much fun to feed the trout and learn about their life cycle. If we had brought more quarters for fish food, the kids could have stayed there all day.
Little Red Riding Hood fed one fish pellet at a time. She would carefully pick out a special fish and try to feed it. Not an easy feat when there are hundreds of trout trying to get one fish pellet.
*The color is caused by the absorption of both red and yellow light (leaving light at the blue end of the visible light spectrum). From the surface, snow and ice present a uniformly white face. This is because almost all of the visible light striking the snow or ice surface is reflected back, without any preference for a single color within the visible spectrum. The situation is different for light that is not reflected, but penetrates or is transmitted into the snow. As this light travels into the snow or ice, the ice grains scatter a large amount of light. If the light is to travel over any distance it must survive many such scattering events. In other words, it must keep scattering and not be absorbed. If it is only a centimeter thick, all the light makes it through; if it is a meter thick, mostly blue light makes it through, and that is what we see.