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Meet the Protists: Adventures in Life Science

November 16, 2007

Chers Amis,Pond

Our Adventures in Life Science crew left the Kingdom Monera and oozed over to the the mysterious Kingdom Protista this month.  This kingdom is a bit like the taxonomist’s junk drawer for all those organisms that don’t quite fit in the other Kingdoms:  protozoa, algae, slime molds and the like.  We spent three weeks (and 4 sessions) getting to know a few of these strange creatures in rather creative fashion.

We started with week 1 – observation.  Dr. P brought samples of stagnant water from plant containers o100_1832n her deck. We would have liked to use samples from our creek, but it is bone dry. (Please pray for rain in Georgia.)  The girls made wet slide mounts from the cloudy green water, examined them under the microscope and made detailed drawings of their findings on a lab sheet  Observation details.observation.doc.  Unfortunately, we are in need of a powerful microscope, but they could see large strands of algae, small midge larvae and a rotifer zipping through the water. We used the fantastic Guide to Microlife for identification.  It is a field guide for all organisms microscopic.  So cool. (How dweebie am I?) The girls also completed the diagrams for the anatomy and structure of the paramecium, amoeba, euglena and kelp in the Power Practice Life Science book.

100_1863 For homework,we asked them to Adopt-a-Protist.  Each girl chose a protist to get to know better.    Caddie chose the Paramecium, Scarlett and Pippin the Euglena, and Cornflower, the Amoeba. The girls then completed the Adopt-a-Protist worksheet we devised.  Download adop_a_protist.doc  Then it was time for some fun – constructing and labeling a 3-D model of their chosen protozoan.  Out came the scupey, Caddie’s button collection, pipe cleaners and the paints.  They had such a good time deciding which button would best represent  the contractile vacuoles or the macro and micro nuclei.  Aren’t they pretty protozoa!

The girls used several books to learn about their protist, but the best by far was Pond Water Zoo: An Introduction to Microscopic Life by Peter Loewer.  The illustrations are detailed and100_1859
interesting and the text, engaging.  Thumbs up.   Microorganisms: The Unseen World (Our Living World) by
Richard Ricciuti was also useful.

Week 2 was devoted to introducing their adopted protists to the group and discussing their similarities and differences. Once they were familiar with the various life forms Dr. P played a pod cast of an old fashioned radio show. Radio show?!  What has that to do with Life Science?  Everything if you are going to write and produce your own episode of the radio show "Kingdom Protista" moderated by your host, Mike Croscope.  The girls worked together to invent a character for their protist.  Soon, Antonio Amoeba, Lena Euglena, Patty Paramecium came to life. Homework was to answer a series of ‘interview’  questions for their protist such as:

  • How would you describe yourself for our listening audience? What do you do for a living?  Where do you live?  What do you eat?  How do you move?  Do you have any ‘health’ issues?  Focusing on your strengths, if you were a superhero, what would your name and special talents be?

Week 3 –  Writing the script. This was hilarious as we posed the questions to the ‘three well-known protists in the studio’, plugged in their prepared answers and added in their improvisations and banter.  We found that Pippin wanted to be included and he had invented a character named Jimmy the Germ who barged into the show even though he belongs in the Kingdom Monera show  "that’s on Tuesday nights."

Week 4 – The recording studio (Audacity in my basement) and a live performance at our local Charlotte Mason ‘For the Children’s Sake’ meeting.  This month’s theme was science so it fit in perfectly.  The biggest surprise was how WELL Pippin did at reading his part with great attention and emotion.  He ended up being a huge part of the 12 minute show, interrupting and interjecting perky germy comments throughout the faux interview.  We plan to do one more recording of the show with music and a few sound effects using Audacity.  If I can figure out how, I will post a link.  It was very creative and yet based totally on fact.  Yet again a wonderful homeschooling project!

Today we started our next kingdom.  Who knows what we will do!  As our host Mike Croscope said at the close of the show, "Tune in next week when we talk to famous fun guys from the Kingdom Fungi. (FADE MUSIC)" Who knows what we will do! It is bound to be delicious this time 🙂



4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2007 9:01 pm

    The models look great and I love the radio show idea.

  2. November 16, 2007 10:53 pm

    How neat! You all are doing a wonderful job. I love the models. Wish my daughter and I could join you! 🙂

  3. November 16, 2007 11:58 pm

    This sounds really funny to say – but those are adorable protozoa.

  4. hélène permalink
    November 21, 2007 10:10 am

    9a avait l’air vraiment bien, j’espère que tu pourras mettre le lien de l’émission !

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