Studying Pollination With The Discovery Scope

We love nature walks whether in the backyard, a local nature preserve or park. Sometimes, we just walk to see what catches our eyes. Other times, we search for something specific like animal tracks, leaves, flowers, nuts or insects. These days, we are investigating nature on a much smaller level.

Last week, we took a nature walk into the woods behind our house and down to the creek. To get to the creek, we walk through a clearing full of prairie grasses and the wildflowers of the season. This fall, the clearing is full of sweet smelling goldenrod! The blooms are eye-level with me and over the kids’ heads in most cases. My son said it smelled like we were in a huge bouquet of flowers. We were indeed.

The kids and I weren’t the only ones who appreciated the goldenrods. Honeybees and soldier beetles were all over the blooms. They paid no mind to us. They were just drawn to the sweet nectar of the tiny golden flowers. We stopped to observe the insects. The soldier beetles looked very similar to fireflies. The kids were convinced they were really fireflies, so we caught a beetle in a Discovery Scope viewing chamber.

The kids were able to see the black and yellow stripes of the beetle and the golden pollen from the goldenrods covering its body and legs. We had talked about pollen sticking to honeybee legs a couple weeks ago when we investigated a honeybee hive. I could see the lightbulbs of understanding going off in the kids’ minds when then actually saw the pollen on the beetle. It’s one thing to talk about pollen sticking to an insect. It’s quite another to see it in real life.

photo by Gordon Adams

Then, the kids wondered if we could see the pollen inside the flower. They investigated a few blooms with the Discovery Scope and we talked about the parts of the plants and pollination. We have learned that before, but to see all those tiny parts close up made them understand much more.

Do you and your kids enjoy nature walks? Do you tie them into what you are currently studying or do you learn as you go? Do you take any observation or recording tools with you?

I’m working on nature observation printables that will be available next week! 




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