It’s Friday – have fun!

For the past three days I’ve been exploring water, woods and fields at a science institute for teachers.  We made hygrometers.  We created ph test solutions.  We examined all different kinds of environments, and we made a woodland terrarium.  The teacher who lead us in this activity shared three different types of terrariums: freshwater, wetlands and woodlands.  The freshwater terrarium was full of copepods and algae.  We could see them without a microscope,  That terrarium had been thriving for nearly 15 years!  The wetland terrarium was full of moss and small plants.  It had been thriving for 8 years!  And finally, the woodland terrarium had been thriving for nearly 2 years.  It was full of wintergreen plants, ferns, moss and all the microorganisms that are in soil.

I couldn’t believe how long these “habitats-in-a-jar” had been thriving!

I made a woodland habitat.  I wonder how long it will survive.  I can’t wait to see.  I thought you might like to make one too.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 clear liter bottle cut into two pieces – 2/3’s at the bottom, 1/3 at the top (Ask for help starting the cut.  Once a hole is made, you can cut the bottle with scissors.  Draw a line if you want it to be straight.)
  • coarse gravel – fish tank gravel or collected from your yard
  • soil from the forest where you’re collecting the plants
  • moss and small plants
  • clear utility tape

Here’s what to do:

  • Cut the bottle
  • Put 1 inch course gravel in the bottom (you need to let the roots breathe)
  • Put 2 inches of soil on top of the gravel
  • Put a few plants – not too many because your terrarium isn’t very big – in/on the soil.
  • Cover the soil and plant roots with small pieces of moss.  The plant stems will stick between the different mosses.
  • Spray the whole thing generously with water.  If the sides of your bottle got dirty, “spritz” the dirt away.
  • Place the top piece back on your bottle and tape the two pieces together.  Make sure the bottle is completely sealed.  You don’t want any air to  get in.

That’s it.  I noticed that my terrarium began to get foggy in a few minutes.  That’s because the plants were breathing.  Now I’ll wait to see what happens.

PS – I wish mine wasn’t cut in half, but higher up.  I think you’d be able to see the plants better.  That’s why I put one third/two thirds in the direction.
I also learned from my teacher, Mr. Zink, that you could put just one part of a fern leaf in the terrarium.  It will grow roots and become a plant.  You might want to give that a try too.
I’ll bring my terrarium to school at the end to the summer.  I wonder how it will change! Stop by to see it.

Let me know about your terrarium adventures in a comment below.

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