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The birds and the bees!

Hi folks,

I'm somewhat surprised to discover that this is my tenth blog post so far.  In fact this one was originally so big that I have had to split it into two - look out for 'other things that fly' next week.

The Birds 

Kicking off this week we have a finch beak evolution activity from the Linnean society.  It was originally aimed at KS4, but they also have a version suitable for KS2/3 too.  This experiment is based on Darwin's observations of adaptations of finch beaks in the Galapagos and is a lot of fun.

Another thing for you to try is this penguin huddling experiment - the experiment, as described, uses testubes and several thermometers.  However, you should be able to use any identical containers (eg empty food tins) and cluster them the same way.  You can also just see which tin is the hottest after 20, 40 and 60minutes  which would only need one thermometer.  I found my infrared ear thermometer will measure whatever I point it at if I remove the front guard bit.  Food thermometers should work well too (depending on their range).  While we are talking about penguins don't forget you can help scientists by counting them (see my previous blog).

The swifts have returned to the tower of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and are nesting there.  Take a look at their webcam and read up on all of the research they have been carrying out on this particular colony.

For those of you who are of a more crafty bent then these tin can owls look great and can be used as mini hanging baskets for plants.  Alternatively, how about building a clucking cup that is supposed to sound a bit like a chicken?  You can also do some different experiments on how to alter the sound it makes.

The Bees 

The Cowley Road carnival is usually held on the first Sunday in July, however this year it has had to move online.  As well as several other activities there are some nice resources from the University on building your own bee hotel or a model buff tailed bee. If, like me, your garden has been full of different types of Bumble Bees then you can identify them using this handy guide from the Natural History Museum.  

Have you ever wondered why honeycomb has hexagonal walls and not, for instance, circular or square ones?  This resource has loads of different linked maths activities to help you explore why.


And finally ...

... a couple of bird and bee themed recipes.  First some chocolate nests which also give you a great opportunity to talk about solids, liquids, melting and solidifying and secondly some honeycomb (aka cinder toffee) which gives you some opportunities to talk about bubbles, gases etc.  Both will also allow you to practice following instructions and measuring weights/capacity  - or you could just enjoy eating them! 

As ever, don't forget to let me know if you have done any of the activities or if there are any topics that you'd like to see.