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Weekend science fun will be short this week because a few things are getting in the way. (Sick cat, sick computer, etc.)

To continue beach science, let's take a look at some other common visitors to the seashore. Grab an identification guide and some binoculars, and a camera if you want, and let's investigate.

sea gull

You may have seen sea gulls dozens of times, but have you really looked at one? Check out those pink webbed feet.

Investigation 1. How do the beaks and feet of shore birds differ from those of the song birds in your community? How are they similar? Ever seen a pelican at the beach?

shore birds

Shore birds always seem busy.

Investigation 2. What do shore birds eat?

Investigation 3. Do shore birds drink? Where do they get their water?

shore birds

Shore birds are often in big groups, like these cormorants.

Investigation 4. Why are shore birds often seen in flocks?

Investigation 5. Where do different types of shore birds nest?

(Hint for 4 and 5: think about bird movement or migration).

shore birds

Now lie down on the beach, close your eyes and listen.

Investigation 6. What sounds do shore birds make?

Hope you have fun discovering shore birds.

Drop us a note in the comments and let us know what you find out.

Edit: To check the rest of the posts on beach science, follow these links:

Sea Horses and Other Fish

Tide Pool Invertebrates

Beach Science- Boats

Beach Science Algae

Beach Science-Sand

Beach Science-Seawater

Have you ever explored a tide pool while at the beach?

tide-pool-8Do you remember wondering what some of the creatures are?

A majority of the animals you see in a tide pool are classed as invertebrates, which means they lack backbones (or more technically, dorsal nerve cords). Invertebrates include animals like

jellyfish
jellyfish,

hermit-crabs8
hermit crabs,

sea-anemoneand sea anemones.

Growing With Science Tide Pool Animals Craft

Activity: Making Clay Tide Pool Creatures

Today's craft helps hone observation skills needed to identify and classify the many diverse marine invertebrates.

Gather:

  • Photos/drawings of various marine invertebrates such as the Invertebrate Guide at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (click on thumbnail images) or illustrations from some of the books below.
  • Toothpicks (if age appropriate)
  • Paint
  • Markers
  • Chenille and/or wax-coated wikki stix
  • Your favorite modeling compound such as salt dough or modeling clay

Basic salt dough is 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of warm water mixed together and then kneaded. Shape the dough and let it dry. You can adjust the relative amounts of flour and water to suit your needs.

We used Crayola Model Magic, which we purchased with a coupon from a craft store.

(Affiliate link to Amazon)

Study the examples and then create your own models. You can push in toothpicks as spines, and chenille or wikki skix as legs.

Let the models dry and then paint and decorate them. You can use your models to create fun tidal pool scenes by adding rocks and/or construction paper algae.

Examples of tide pool scenes:

seascene2octopuslobsterseascene1

Want more information about animals found in tide pools? Try the books below. (Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.)

Nonfiction

Life in a Tide Pool (Rookie Read-About Science) by Allan Fowler

Simple, straightforward informational nonfiction that covers the tide pool habitat.

Age Range: 6 and up
Series: Rookie Read-About Science
Library Binding: 32 pages
Publisher: Children's Press (CT) (September 1996)
ISBN-10: 0516200313
ISBN-13: 978-0516200316

How to Hide an Octopus and Other Sea Creatures (Reading Railroad) by Ruth Heller

Ruth Heller's books about camouflage are delightful, with rhyming text and colorful illustration. Highly recommended!

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (April 29, 1992)
ISBN-10: 0448404788
ISBN-13: 978-0448404783

Seashells, Crabs and Sea Stars: Take-Along Guide (Take Along Guides) by Christiane Kump Tibbitts and illustrated by Linda Garrow

Introduces children to common tide pool animals, with tips for identifying 15 different kinds of seashells, 5 kinds of crabs and 7 kinds of sea stars. Suggestions for activities included.

Age Range: 7 - 10 years
Publisher: Cooper Square Publishing Llc (January 1, 1999)
ISBN-10: 1559716754
ISBN-13: 978-1559716758

What Lives in a Shell? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld and illustrated by Helen K. Davie

This series is really outstanding. What Lives in a Shell? covers many animals found at the beach.

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (April 22, 1994)
ISBN-10: 0064451240
ISBN-13: 978-0064451246
What's in the Tide Pool? by Anne Hunter

The books in this series are small (approximately 5 inches x 5 inches). Each describe a few common animals in a given habitat.

Age Range: 4 - 7 years
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (August 28, 2000)
ISBN-10: 0618015108
ISBN-13: 978-0618015108

In One Tidepool: Crabs, Snails, and Salty Tails by Anthony D. Fredericks and illustrated by Jennifer Dirubbio

This book includes rhyming text of the "house-that-Jack-built" format.

Age Range: 4 and up
Publisher: Dawn Pubns; 1 edition (August 1, 2002)
ISBN-10: 1584690380
ISBN-13: 978-1584690382

There are a number of books about a single group of invertebrates that are written for young children. For example:

Crab (Welcome Books: Ocean Life) by Lloyd G. Douglas

Age Range: 4 and up
Publisher: Children's Press(CT) (September 2005)
ISBN-10: 0516237403
ISBN-13: 978-0516237404

Sea Stars (Ocean Life) by Lola M. Schaefer

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: Capstone Press (July 1, 1998)
ISBN-10: 0736882219
ISBN-13: 978-0736882217

 

Fiction

A House for Hermit Crab (The World of Eric Carle) by Eric Carle

Growing and having to move are themes in this classic book about a hermit crab looking for a new shell to live in.

Age Range: 5 - 7 years
Publisher: Simon Spotlight; Reissue edition (May 13, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1481409158
ISBN-13: 978-1481409155

Don't forget to check for other posts in the beach science category here at Growing With Science.

1

This week we are continuing our series at the beach. Check previous posts for sand science and seawater science.

Have you ever found something plant-like on the beach and wondered what it was?

algae

beach stuff

Seems like a lot of beach plants are hard to classify. Are they algae, a sort of seaweed, or are algae and seaweed the same thing? Are algae plants or do they belong to a different kingdom? These are all good questions, and scientists are just beginning to answer some of them.

Many of the plants and plant-like creatures you see at the beach are technically algae. For example, kelp are giant brown algae.

kelp

kelp

Algae come in many colors, like these red ones.

algae

The green algae are often found in freshwater ponds and lakes.

algae

Ready to learn more? Here are some suggestions for activities to investigate algae. I'd love to hear your ideas, as well.

Activity 1. Make an algal collection

Gather algae on the beach and keep it moist in seawater. If you have never worked with algae, the Hawaii Botany Department tells you how to make an algal herbarium. Or if you don't want to disturb nature, you can take close up photographs of what you find.

Once you have a collection, visit these websites to help you identify what you have.

Michael Guiry's Seaweed Site covers all things seaweed and the identification of algae.

Life on the Australian Shores and Algae: The Forgotten Treasure of Tidepools are also helpful, although the later tends to get a bit silly at times.

You may be wondering why anyone would care about algae. Turns out, algae are important in a lot of ways.

Activity 2. Investigate food chains.

Algae are the basis for aquatic food chains in both seawater and freshwater.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of food chains, this book is a great introduction to food chains and food webs. It has been a family favorite.

Who Eats What? Food Chains and Food Webs (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 2)by Patricia Lauber and illustrated by Holly Keller


Find out as much as you can about food chains in the oceans. Gather, print and cut out pictures of ocean critters to illustrate your own posters of food chains or webs.

Activity 3. People eat algae too.

You have probably eaten algae and didn't even know it. Carrageenan, a thickener used in a variety of foods, is extracted from a red alga. For more information, see http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761573848_3/algae.html.

Once you have an idea what to look for, head to your kitchen and check to see if you have any foods that contain carrageenan or other products made from algae. Look at the cookbook listed below (or a similar one), and make some of your own dishes using algae. Asian markets are often an excellent source of ingredients.

If you are interested, a fun research project would be to investigate all the ways people use algae for food throughout the world.

Activity 4. Other important uses for algae.

See if you can make a list of other uses for algae. Here are some I found:

Algae are thought to make much of the oxygen we breathe.

This video shows a camera zooming in on the leaves and then the cells of a common water plant, Elodea. In the cells you can see the chloroplasts moving around. The chloroplasts are the sites of photosynthesis, the process that turns sunlight into chemical energy we can use as food. A by-product of photosynthesis is the release of oxygen. Although Elodea is actually a vascular plant, the process in green algae is the same.

If providing food and oxygen weren't enough, now scientists have discovered ways to use the oils found in algae to make biodiesel. In fact, algal oils can be made into jet fuel. See this previous post for more information about algal research at ASU.

If you are interested in algae, here are a few books you might want to try:

The Seaweed Book: How to Find and Have Fun With Seaweed by Rose Treat and Randy Duchaine


For Adults:
Seaweeds of the Pacific Coast: Common Marine Algae from Alaska to Baja California
by Jennifer Mondragon and Jeff Mondragon


Have fun with some seaweed science and let me know what you discover!

Edit: To check the rest of the posts on beach science, follow these links:

Sea Horses and Other Fish

Shore Birds

Tide Pool Invertebrates

Beach Science- Boats

Beach Science-Sand

Beach Science-Seawater