Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Nature's Magical, Miniature Worlds 

The Spark:
Take a few steps from your back door or find a tiny patch of nearby nature, get out your magnifying glass and get ready for a magical nature quest.  This quest will take you on the lichen trail. What are lichen?  Lichen are a moss-like fungus/alga that grows on the ground, on trees, or rocks.  Lichen are made up of a symbiotic relationship between alga and fungus and look like one organism.  They are quite beautiful and they come in different forms.  You may have just walked by lichens a million times!  Miniature worlds are magical and you can get a better look at them with your magnifying glass or with a microscope.  As you hunt for lichen, watch out for fairies and trolls living in the magical forest (or your backyard,) tiny, hidden worlds exist just under our nose and we don't even notice them in our day to day scuffle. On this quest lets delve into nature's magical, miniature worlds of clean air lichens.  If you spot one in your area it could be a good indicator of air quality.

Calling all Super Natural Superheroes to ACTIVATE! Certain lichen cannot thrive and grow where there is poor air quality.  Finding them can be a good indication of clean air.  Lets follow the lichen trail with our magnifying glasses in hand to see how many of nature's magical, miniature worlds we can find.  As always, start your quest by asking, WHY? 

Start Your Quest:
Why:  To find pollution indicator lichen and explore nature's magical, miniature worlds.
What:  To embark on a hunt for lichen, find out where they grow, examine them, identify kinds of lichen grow in your area.
Who: You, your family, and friends.
Where:  In your backyard or a nearby patch of nature.
When:  As soon as you can get yourself organized.
How:  Find out below.  It's a S.N.CH., or is it?!

Take Action:

What you will need:
Take a magnifying glass, a small plastic container or bag, a knife to cut samples (ask your parents to help,) and if you have a microscope at home that would be great but it is not necessary.  We are on a hunt for fruticose lichen so do some research regarding what lichens grow in your area.

Hunt for fruticose lichen:
Fruticose lichen grows on soil, bark, and even wood such as wood fences.

Cladonia Cristatella (British soldiers)

Cladonia Fimbiata (Trumpet Lichen)

Cladina Rangifera (Grey Reindeer Lichen)

Examine the Lichen under a microscope:
Examine and identify what types of lichen you found.  Did you find fruticose lichen?  They are the most sensitive to manufactured pollutants followed by foliose and then crustose lichen are the most resilient.  See what types you found.

Create a miniature garden of your own:
Look for moss outdoors, plant an indoor plant that helps clean indoor air, add tiny figurines, presto, you have your own miniature world.  Or, go outdoor into your backyard and create one outdoors.  

Click on this link to the article:  Six House Plants That Improve Your Air Quality

Write a story about the adventures in your miniature world:
Play first then write a story about your mini world.

Don't Stop Here:
Keep on researching and looking for lichen growing in your area.  Take note of lichen growing on trees, rocks, and soil as you go about your daily life.  If you have a hunch just email us and we'll give your hunch a whirl and get back to you.

Quest Check:
We are very interested in keeping you interested on your quest to learn more about nature.  Keep checking back with us on a regular basis to see if your interests match our quests.

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