One of the perks of living close to the campus is the number of green space where kids can explore, play, and learn about the ecosystem. My kids have great textbooks in Science, I have collected these from my book hunting days at thrift book shops like the Booksale and Chapters and Pages. Some of my books I have bought during my visit in Australia years ago (mostly geology books), while the rest were ordered from Amazon and Book Depository. However, I would say that for kids their age, nothing beats real experiments and exploration.
The UP campus is the safest place to do basic ecosystem study. It is open to public thus, no special permits are needed, so long as you don’t go there in a big group and start pinching snails and scraping off moss. In fact, I don’t recommend you do. When you do this study, please try not to disturb the plants and animals by poking at them or taking living samples. Below are some of the suggestions when doing a similar study:
- Bring tools with you such a ruler, notebook/worksheet, pencil, magnifying glass, and sample holders. For the latter, I made small pocket envelopes out of parchment paper and tapes. We planned to collect leaves that have fallen out of trees. We didn’t collect moss as we didn’t want to disturb the symbiotic relationship with the soil and trees. Same is true with tree fungus. We did collect 2 clover leaves because I plan to dry press and put them in resin.
2. Before going to UP, it’s best to know the weather update so you can prepare your rain gears, umbrella, and the appropriate clothing. Since we also visited the campus lagoon, we also applied anti-mosquito lotion on us so we don’t get bitten by mosquitoes and other insects.
3. When you’re homeschooling, documenting your child’s activity through photography is part of building his/her portfolio. I exclusively use my phone now for social media, important business calls and texts to save on battery power so I brought my all-weather camera with me to take photos of my kids’ activity. If you’re curious, I’m using Fujifilm XP 140 which is a waterproof and shockproof camera. Below is the photo of the camera that I snagged off Google.
4. Part of experience of doing an Ecosystem Study is interacting with species that land on you (kidding!). I was lucky to have such an experience with a baby grasshopper that landed on my bag and walked on my arm. It was really cute. I made it walk on my palm and happily returned it to a leaf. He stayed for a while on the leaf and stared at us, giving us enough time to look at it through the magnifying glass and take photos.
UP campus has a park where some of the native trees were planted. This small park is positioned right between UP Film Center and Theater, proximal to the bell tower. Each tree was labelled with its common name and scientific name. We used our magnifying glass to look at the flowers and leaves to try to see the different features. We then took samples by picking up leave from the ground and putting each on parchment packets. Below are some of the photos of the native trees:
After we were done with the native trees, moss, and the baby grasshopper (the only insect we were able to observe up close), we then started looking at the ground to observe the weeds. Below are photos of a weed whose name I don’t know and the ever famous clover leaves. I asked my kids to look for 4-leaf ones but sadly we didn’t see one.
Finally, for the reason that my kids really showed interest in plants, it is lucky that I scored a book entitled “Science with Plants” by Usborne during a recent sale by Chapters and Pages. It is old but gold. Our next project is to build a terrarium for our condo. Stay tuned!