The Science of Fall

This fall has been spectacular.  I truly have been in awe of the brilliance I see every day. And it makes me wonder…Why are the colors so incredibly vibrant this year?

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This year I changed my science units around. Normally I teach our life science unit in the spring when we can go to the local pond and observe life cycles up close. It’s the perfect time…

But this fall…it has been perfect for learning too.  For me and for my students.

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I love my students’ curiosity. I love their excitement about science. I love their questions and their explanations of why and how.  This is why I teach. They inspire me and I learn right alongside them. And we have fun!

This beauty of this fall has led us to want to know more. So we went in search of answers. Answers from the trees in front of our school.

We had so many questions!

Why do the leaves change color? How do they change? What’s happening?

Why do some trees change color sooner than others?  Do other trees besides maples change?

Why do the leaves die? How do they die? Why do they turn brown and crispy when they die?

Why are some leaves different colors? Why are some red, yellow, orange or a combination of colors?

So we observed the trees. And we collected leaves…lots of leaves.

We observed them…

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We made predictions about them…

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And we researched. We read. We found out about pigments. Pigments that are always there, but become uncovered as the green chlorophyll fades. Trees know that winter is coming. The shorter days, less sunshine…and they begin their process of dormancy. The leaves then fall…and without any food or water go through their own changes. Later, becoming nutrients for the new leaves in the spring.  The life cycle continues…

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This fall has been perfect. The warm sunshine during the day, the cool nights. Perfect conditions for producing this amazing display of color.

We learned so much. And we had fun!

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12 thoughts on “The Science of Fall

  1. Science and nature. Teaching and learning. Curiosity and research. Natural cycles. Cultivating minds. Encouraging the development of critical thinking skills. Co-existence with the environment. Pleasure derived from the process of increasing personal knowledge. Community. Sharing.

    I would have given anything to have had a teacher like you in my life. But wait, I learn something new every time you share your passion and experiences; so I should add satisfaction to the list above.

  2. I really liked this post. It answered a few questions I had left about the leaves! I did hear since we had some rain, some cool nights and different things in climate going on, this made it earlier! I am so glad you explained the chlorophyll and pigments changing! Those kids are so lucky to have you and right by your school, those trees are excellent “specimens” to examine!!

    • They are Robin!!! Every year I am amazed by their colors. This year has been like nothing I’ve seen in all my years of living in Vermont. It’s a bit early… But it’s prolonged and with little rain and lots of sunshine… It’s been breathtaking!!! I never want it to end!!

  3. I am so glad it stands out in all the years in Vermont! Lovely season to enjoy, share, walk in, using all the senses! I love that word choice, (I am a word oriented person, I guess!) in “Breathtaking!!”

    • Thanks Robin!! Writing helps me expand my word choice!! Finding new ways to say “amazing”!!!!!! I’m going to “steal” some of your lovely adjectives!!

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