Hi! My name is Ms. Dosmann. Please travel with me to Nova Scotia to study Climate Change and Mammals.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Day 13 - Final Day in Cherry Hill

Weather: cold, a mixture of rain and snow
Temperature: 20s and 30s

Well, today was our last day at the Green House in Cherry Hill. We woke up to our final breakfast of eggs and bacon. After breakfast, Dr. Chris helped us go over our data from Week 2. Scientists have to spend quite a lot of time working with numbers. They use the data they collect to make hypotheses about the world. Using the data we collected, we calculated that there are probably 21 deer and 9 red-backed voles living at Cook's Lake. We also made a list of all the species we studied while here in Nova Scotia.

After the data talk, I had some time to video chat with Ms. Curtis and Ms. Stiffend's classes from Toomer. They asked some great questions. The 5th graders created alliterations, similes and metaphors about the expedition.

I also video chatted with Miss Corey's first grade class in West Lafayette, Indiana. Miss Corey is my cousin. Those first graders were definitely thinking. They asked questions about insects, animals and the weather. Thanks for your thoughts!

After lunch and skype sessions, we decided to brave the rain and snow mixture and head to the seaside. It was our last excursion and we didn't want to miss anything. Plus, I had yet to see a porcupine and Dr. Chris this was our last chance. So, we all piled in the van and made our way to the Kejimikujik Seaside Adjunct. Lycos made himself comfortable on my lap for most of the ride. Can you imagine having a 90 pound dog sitting on your lap? That's more than most of you weigh!

We spent the next two hours hiking along the path at the Seaside Adjunct. Even though it was freezing cold and snowing, we had a great time. It felt wonderful just to be outside. Plus, we saw some beautiful scenery and neat things along the way. This is a picture of a sea urchin. Raccoons and seagulls like to pull open the urchin and eat the meaty inside.

Long ago, the land around the sea here used to be used to raise sheep. People cut down the forest here to make room for sheep grazing pastures. It is no longer used to graze sheep. Now, it is a protected wildlife park. Nothing grew back on the land. This is the remains of a shepherd's shelter from long ago.

As we were walking along, I was always on the look out for porcupines. I looked for any field sign I could find. I knew that porcupines like to hide in trees, so I looked up. I also looked up to find any branches that they had eaten. I looked down to find droppings. Boy, did we find some droppings! Look at this massive pile of porcupine droppings. Thank goodness I did NOT have to count them all!

This is me, signing off, live from the field in Nova Scotia. I can't believe how much I learned on this expedition. I have a renewed sense of the importance of taking care of our earth and feel so much more connected to the natural world.
I want to thank several people for making this expedition possible for my students and me:
  • HSBC in the Community (USA), Inc for sponsoring me. Without your generous donation, this would not have been possible.
  • Dr. Newman and Dr. Buesching for being excellent PIs and teaching me so much.
  • My team: Suzanne, Yuma, Alison and Candice. You made all the work so much fun!
  • My students for working so hard during this project and all year, not crying (too hard) when I left for two weeks and for doing a GREAT job thinking like scientists. I hope that you will all go on many scientific expeditions of your own in the future!
  • My students' families for encouraging a love of science and learning at home and for being so supportive of this adventure.
  • Dr. Jones and Dr. Hall for being encouraging leaders and for supporting the expedition in so many ways.
  • Toomer Teachers for visiting the blog, including your students in the expedition via technology and for picking up the pieces while I was away.
  • Mrs. Fannin for assisting with technology and helping with press releases and media coverage.
  • Mrs. Clarke for ensuring my students did not fall behind in reading while I was away.
  • Ms. St. Joy and Mrs. McCrary for making sure there were no technological difficulties. Video chatting worked perfectly!

And, the last person, I cannot thank enough...

  • Ms. Hanes for taking care of my students while was away. I could not have left for two weeks without knowing that my students were safe and learning. I couldn't have done a better job if I were there myself. Thank you so much!

Day 12 - Last Day at Cook's Lake and Beaver Watching

Thursday's weather: Sunny and Windy
Temperature: 30s-50s

Today was our last day at Cook's Lake. We checked our traps for the final time. We caught the same pregnant vole, another pregnant vole and a new vole. After doing the math, we calculated that there are probably 9 voles living at Cook's Lake. While we were collecting the traps, Ms. Suzanne found a tuft of hare fur that was caught on a thorny bush. It was very soft. Here is a picture:

After collecting all the traps and writing up the data, we carried the buckets of traps out for the last time. We said goodbye to Cook's Lake and drove back to Cherry Hill.

When we got back, it was time to skype with some of the best scientists in training in the world... YOU! You asked thoughtful questions and were so polite. Thanks to all the adults that helped get the skype sessions set up!

Remember when the "Bat Lady" Ms. Alison showed you the skull of the tiny pygmy shrew? Well here is a close up picture. You can see its teeth.

After video chatting with you, Dr. Chris taught us how to survive in the wild. Here I am using sticks and string to make a fire. Why would a person need fire if they are caught out in the wilderness?

After survival training, we had some free time before heading to the lake for beaver watching. It was a beautiful day, so Alison, Yuma, Suzanne and I walked down to the shore. It was only a five minute walk to the beach.

Beavers are nocturnal animals, so we had to wait for evening to come and the sun to almost set before going beaver watching. Not everyone that goes beaver watching gets to see beavers. Dr. Christina was hopeful that we would we see a beaver because the weather was nice. We bundled up and drove to the lake. When you go beaver watching, you have to sit very still and be very quiet. If they hear you, they may go back into their lodge and hide. Inside of a beaver there are usually several beavers. The are two adults, the mom and dad, two older cubs from last year and any new cubs. Cubs live in the lodge with their parents until they are two years old. When we got there, the sun was still out, but we sat still and waited.

We waited until the sky turned darker. The moon was a beautiful waxing gibbous We had our binoculars and cameras ready. We waited and waited in silence. Ms. Suzanne and I started to giggle at one point, but had to cover our faces. It's difficult to be still and quiet for so long! We just hoped it would be worth it.
Just when we started to think we weren't going to see any beavers, we noticed a fat body and a round head moving through water. The beavers were out! We watched them go in and out of their lodge for an hour. They brought back sticks sometimes. There were two cubs, a mom and a dad. Dr. Christina told us that the cubs were probably from last year. Can you see the beavers in this picture? There are two. It is much easier to see them using binoculars.

Well, tomorrow is our last day in Nova Scotia. I am starting to feel to sad to leave, but I am also very excited to get home and see you!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thanks for your comments!

How long will your flight be to fly back to Atlanta on Saturday? (from Taylor)
To get from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Atlanta, Georgia, it will take a whole day. We leave Cherry Hill around 9:00 a.m. and drive to the airport in Halifax. My flight leaves at 1:45 p.m. I will fly from Halifax to New York. In New York, I will get on another plane that will take me to Atlanta. Once I get into Atlanta, around 10:00 p.m., I will ride MARTA to the train station in East Lake. My friend Mr. Peter and Maggie will be waiting! It will be a long day!

How is an ermine different from a weasel? (from Patriciea)
I am going to have Dr. Chris explain this answer to you during our video chat today.

Have you found any more voles? (from Dianco)
Today we caught the same pregnant vole again! She must really like the traps. We also caught a new male vole. Today was the last day for the Longworth traps, so we will not catch anymore voles.

Do you think that ermines are cute mammals? (from Jawuan)
The ermine was very cute! Sometimes it's hard to remember that the animals are wild and not tame. They are so cute, you want to touch them and pet them, but that is dangerous for humans and for the animal.

Could you please bring back some Canadian money for us to see? (from Patriciea)
I will definitely bring back some Canadian money for you to see!

Are you bringing back anything to share for ''show and tell''? (from Ms. Dalton)
I'm not sure what I can bring back without getting caught in customs, so we will see!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 11 - Two New Sightings!

Weather: Rainy, cloudy and chilly (between 30 and 40 degrees)

5th graders: I tried to use some similes and metaphors in my post today. How did I do?

Today was as exciting as winning a trip to the super bowl! We got out of the van at Cook's Lake and walked down the path to the research site. After all the rain yesterday, the path was a river! We walked mainly along the sides, but sometimes we had to walk right down the middle.

While we were walking along, I noticed something moving across the path. It was gray, had long legs, long ears and a bushy tail. It looked a lot like Lycos, only slimmer and gray. It was a coyote! When it heard us coming up the path, it jumped into the forest as quick as a fox. Only Ms. Suzanne and I were able to catch a glimpse of it from behind. Maybe it has been this coyote leaving all the scat on the path. I couldn't get my camera out in time to get a picture, so I googled one for you instead. This one looks a lot like the coyote I saw.

Next, we continued down the flooded path to the research site to check the traps. Ms. Suzanne found a trap that felt different. She saw a pink nose inside and the trap felt heavy. A vole does not have a pink nose and it is not heavy. We thought maybe it could be a flying squirrel or chipmunk. Dr. Christina said we had to be careful because we didn't know what it was, so she took the animal out in the bag. Watch this video to see what happened:

Later, Dr. Christina wondered if it really was a weasel because it was so large and had a funny tail. Weasels are smaller and have short tails and this creature was larger and had a tail like a paintbrush. She called Dr. Chris to get his input. He said that it was definitely an ermine. I had never heard of an ermine. What can you find out about an ermine? Here is a picture of the ermine we found in in our trap. You can see his paintbrush tail.

After we let the ermine go, we went on another field sign transect. Remember, that means we walked down a trail looking for clues that animals live nearby. Can you remember some of the field signs we look for? Walking down the path today was like walking on a soggy sponge. Here is a video to show you what it was like:


Well, I'm as a tired as a sleepy baby, so I'd better get to bed. Tomorrow is our last day in the field. I can't believe it's almost over!

Thanks for your comments!

First, Ms. Stiffend's class, I am as alert for your similes as the coyote was for us as he jumped into the woods today.

Great science starts with a question... and you asked some GREAT questions today. I'm very impressed!

Vole Babies - How long does it take to have a vole baby?
I had to go ask Dr. Chris about vole babies to make sure I get the information correct for my inquisitive students. Baby voles grow in their mother's tummies (this is called the gestation period) for 18 to 19 days before they are born. Voles have litters of 3 to 6 babies at a time. They get milk from the mother vole for 14 days after they are born. Then, when they are 4 weeks old, they can go out and make babies of their own. Remember that voles do not live very long in the wild, so they have to reproduce (make new babies) very young. How does this compare to humans? You could do a great Venn diagram to compare.

Cow Skull
Zora got it right! The cow was shot. You can see the hole in his head. I'm not sure why the cow was shot. Good detective work, Zora!

Checking the traps twice
Ciara was close on this one! The reason we check the traps the twice each day is to make sure the small mammals aren't in the traps too long. Like Ciara said, it might be too cold or the animal might not have enough food. Some animals get very scared in the traps and this can be bad for them. The scientists are careful to only trap the animal long enough so that they can collect data and then release it into its habitat alive and well. Nice work!

Deer Antlers
Great work! One use for antlers is protection. If a buck (a male deer) is threatened, it can use its antlers to protect itself. Another important use for antlers is to show other deer who is the biggest, strongest and healthiest buck. Only the strongest buck becomes the leader of its herd. This buck passes on good traits to his young. Big antlers show that the buck is healthy, strong and smart. Bucks with small antlers won't mess with a buck with bigger antlers. It's kind of like people. A skinny little guy isn't going to mess with a big, muscular man! So, that's why antlers are so important. Pretty neat.

I can't wait to read your comments and questions tomorrow! Only two more days left in the field...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 10 - A Rainy Day at Cook's Lake!

Hello from a windy, wet and cold Cook's Lake Research Site! It rained the whole day and was very cold. I was very glad that I spent a small fortune on rain gear before I left. I wore my rain coat, my rain pants and even borrowed some rain boots. Luckily, the only parts of my body that got really cold were my hands. Ms. Suzanne's gloves got so wet, she could wring them out! Dr. Christina forgot to put on rain pants and was soaked to the bone in her jeans.
Despite the rain, we had traps to check. Why do you think it's necessary to check the traps two times each day no matter the weather? So, we walked through the forest on the soggy ground. Here is a video to show you what it was like:


Well, it wasn't the jumping mouse I was hoping for, but we did catch another red-backed vole! This was an important catch because she was a pregnant vole. Dr. Christina could tell because the vole had a round tummy and she had teats to feed her babies. We didn't get to weigh her because the bag had too much water on it, so we couldn't get a good measurement. Dr. Christina used scissors to give her a clip mark. If she is caught again, the clip mark will tell us that she is a recapture. We tried to hurry because the rain was getting in her eyes and she was getting wet. So, we took this mama vole back to her habitat and let her go.

Next, we did four deer dropping quadrats. That means we looked for deer droppings in four 10 by 10 meter squares. Ms. Suzanne was very observant and noticed something moving at her feet. It was a tiny common shrew. A shrew is like a small mouse with a pointy nose. Look one up, if you want.
Can you guess what we did next? Probably not... It was so cold and rainy and we were so wet that Dr. Christina said we should drive to town and warm up with some hot soup and a cup of hot chocolate. It was wonderful! We went to Tim Horton's coffee shop and got lunch. When we got there, we all went in the bathroom and used hand dryers to dry our clothes and warm our hands. After warming up, we had to go back to the site and check the traps before dark. We didn't catch any more small mammals.
The yucky part is that tomorrow is supposed to be even colder! Wish me luck and hope that we stay warm. No one ever said that being a scientist was going to be easy!