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Bulb-blog

Baby bulb
Baby bulb

Use this blog to:

  • Ask Professor Plant any questions you may have.
  • Share interesting stories or photographs with other schools.
  • Once you send a message, Professor Plant will read it then publish it onto the website.

To be web safe:

  • We will not publish any childrens names.
  • When you leave a message, list the name of your school, then your comment will be posted as 'pupils from' and the 'name of your school'.
  • Always ask your teacher for permission before posting a message or a photograph.

SCAN

SCAN is an Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales project, which helps schools promote Education for Sustainable Development.

March 2015

Only two weeks to go Bulb Buddies!

Posted by Penny Tomkins on 13 March 2015

If you look closely at this picture you can see that only one of my Daffodils has opened. The others are still mostly or completely covered by a protective layer called a spathe.

Hello Bulb Buddies,

Well, you have been busy! A further 78 flowering records have been entered this week bringing us to a total of 175 flowers!


For those of you still waiting for your flowers to bloom here are some helpful tips:

  1. Your plants have flowered when you can see all of their petals, without the outer casing that protects them while they are developing (see the picture to the right).
  2. Remember to measure in mm!
  3. Measure from the top rim of your plant pot to the highest point of your flower.
  4. Remember to record the date when you enter your flowering record on the National Museum Wales website!
  5. Please leave comments when you enter your records, this is your chance to tell me what you’ve liked or disliked about the project!
  6. Please send pictures! I have been able to share a few pictures posted by schools on Twitter. If your school doesn’t use Twitter maybe your teacher could email pictures to me!

There isn’t long to go now, only two more weeks of collecting and entering weather data!

Remember, the 27th of March is the deadline for entering all of your weather data. You must do this to achieve your Super Scientist certificates and be in for a chance of winning a museum nature trip!

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies

Professor Plant


Your comments:

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School: We were very excited this week as there were lots of buds on our crocuses. The weather has been getting warmer and today the first crocus flowers opened in the sunshine and we had to measure them carefully, H and J. Prof P: Well done H and J! I hope you have enjoyed studying the development of your plants. There are other experiments you can do that demonstrate how your flowers respond to light and heat. I will send these to your teacher but you can also find them on the website under ‘Professor Plant’s investigation ideas’. Keep up the good work!

Rivington Foundation Primary School: On Monday we had snow! And on Thursday we were on a school trip. Prof P: Well Rivington Foundation Primary School, you’ve had quite an exciting week! And you still managed to document your weather records, thank you very much!

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: Still no sign of bulbs in pots flowering yet, we think the ones in the ground are doing better, as the roots have more space to grow, unlike the pots which have restricted space! It’s lovely and sunny here today, with a good sunny forecast for the weekend. When we return to school on Monday we should hopefully start to see our bulbs flowering. Prof P: Hi Stanford in the Vale Primary, I’m pleased to hear that you are observing other plants and discussing the effects of environment on growth and development. I hope the sun over the weekend spurs on your plants, it shouldn’t be long now so watch them closely!

Our Lady of Peace Primary School: The bulb's still have not came out yet but one of them is almost out. Prof P: It shouldn’t be long now Our Lady of the Peace Primary! Watch the flower buds carefully to see how they open. The spathe will begin to split lengthways as the bud grows! If your teacher has a camera you might be able to take pictures that show the different stages of the bud flowering!

Thorn Primary School: We are very sorry but we were unable to submit plants data this week as there was building work taking place at school and we could not safely get to the thermometer and rain collector. We will be fine to collect our data this week. Prof P: Thank you for letting me know Thorn Primary School, and not to worry! I look forward to seeing your data next week.

Our Lady of Peace Primary School: My name is T and my flower was first to open. It was outside when it opened but when we brought it inside it opened even more. We were amazed. Even our teacher was amazed. Prof P: Hi T. I’m glad that you have been studying your plants so closely, they are fascinating things! Did you discuss why the flower reacted to being moved inside? I suspect your classroom was a lot warmer than the playground!!

Swiss Valley School: Hello how do we record the mystery bulbs please? Prof P: Hi Swiss Valley School. You can record the mystery bulbs flowering dates for your own records in the class room, but there is no need to record them on the NMW website. Schools that are taking part in the Edina Trust extension projects were given an extra 20 daffodil bulbs to plant in the ground, and those schools are asked to document the flowering dates for these on the Edina Trust website. This is so that they can compare the flowering dates of those in the ground to those in pots and think of reasons why these might be different. Have you noticed differences in the development of your mystery bulbs to your bulbs in pots? Can you think of reasons for this?

Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn: We enjoyed measuring them. Prof P: I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying the project Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn! Keep up the good work.

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: All our crocus have flowered and they are looking so pretty. What a lovely week of warmer weather, and finally the rain came today, we are so in need of more rain.....we looked at the weather data as a group and noticed Oxfordshire have had little rain this year! Prof P: Hi Stanford in the Vale Primary. What a lovely post, and it’s nice to see a positive spin on rain! I’m glad that you are using the resources on the map to study readings from other schools! You can also use the Met Office WOW website to look at readings in other areas.

Daffodils for St David's Day

Posted by Penny Tomkins on 2 March 2015

Giant Daffodils at St Fagans National History Museum for St David's Day.

Flowers at Llanharan Primary School!

Daffodils and purple Crocus growing near National Museum Cardiff.

My plants!

Hello Bulb Buddies,

I hope you all had a fantastic St David’s Day yesterday!

St David’s Day (Dydd Gwyl Dewi) is a national holiday in Wales that celebrates St David (Dewi Sant), the patron Saint of Wales. This is a time when the history and traditions of Wales are celebrated. Traditional foods are prepared such as cawl/ lobscows and welshcakes, and traditional dress and Welsh emblems are worn. The Welsh emblems adorned on St David’s day include the leek (which is a symbol of St David) and the Daffodil. It is interesting that the Welsh word for Leek (Cennin) and Daffodil (Cennin Pedr) are very similar!

I thought it would be interesting for the schools in England and Scotland to see how important the Daffodil is in Wales. Did you celebrate St David’s Day? If not, are there other days that you do celebrate? You could let me know about these in the ‘comments’ section when you record this week’s weather data!

Have a look at the pictures attached!

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies,

Professor Plant

February 2015

First flower dates!

Posted by Penny Tomkins on 27 February 2015
Main parts of a flower (from the BBC Bitesize website).

Here is a fantastic and clearly labelled picture that was sent to me last year:

Hello Bulb Buddies,

I have exciting news to report! We have had our first flower dates recorded on the website!

Congratulations to Ysgol Deganwy, who’s first Crocus flowered an the 21st of February at 90mm tall. Ysgol Tal Y Bont and Ysgol Bancyfelin who’s first Crocus's flowered on the 23rd of February at 65mm tall. And, Ynysddu Primary School who’s first Crocus flowered on the 25th of February at 50mm tall. They expect two more to flower any day now!

I have also had reports of even earlier flowering dates. Swiss Valley CP School report that some of their Crocus plants flowered over half term.

Silverdale St. John's CE School have reported that some of the Crocuses they planted in tyres have flowered. One is 110mm tall!

And today, via Twitter I received photographic evidence that Llanharan Primary School has at least two fully grown Crocus plants! They saw one of them open today!

Remember to enter your flower date and the height of your flower on the National Museum Wales website. But, only do this once the petals are fully visible and remember to measure the height in millimetres.

I would love some photos of the flowers for the Museum’s website and my Twitter page. Please ask your teachers to send these in to me if possible.

I would also like to see just how artistic you all are! So, I have an activity for you to do once your flowers have opened! I’d like you to draw a detailed picture of your plant and label all its different parts. This is a great way to get to know your flowers better, and to see just how complicated such small things can be. It’s also very interesting to compare the Daffodil and the Crocus, can you spot the similarities and differences? In many ways all flowers are very similar, even though at first glance they look completely different to one another!

Here is a fun game to do with labelling plants that I found on the BBC Bitesize website:

I look forward to seeing your photos and pictures.

Keep up the good work Bulb buddies,

Professor Plant

Your comments:

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: We had snow on Tuesday! Bitter cold all week. Prof P: Wow Stanford in the Vale Primary, you have had cold weather! -2 on Tuesday – burrr!

Rivington Foundation Primary School: Our daffodils in pots started sprouting last week, now between 1 and 4 cms. Daffodils in pots no sign yet. Probably too cold in the ground. Professor Plant: Hi Rivington Foundation Primary, I’m glad to hear your bulbs are sprouting! It is exciting to see how fast they grow once they start to show above the soil. Usually, the plants in the ground would grow first because they are slightly warmer than your plants in pots. But this depends on a number of things, such as how much frost you have had! I’m sure they will show themselves soon, maybe they are waiting for it to get a little warmer!


Chryston Primary School: Sorry but we were off for 3 days and sadly a bulb got squished because it is near the playground and a ball landed of top of it. The good news is the bulbs are starting to grow. Next week we will start recording the height of the bulbs. Prof P: Oh I am sorry to hear that you lost one of your bulbs! I hope you are all sharing so that no one is too upset – these things do happen! I’m glad to hear that your bulbs have started growing though! It’s interesting to document how quickly they grow, and to see that each one grows at its own pace!

Saint Anthony's Primary School: We are enjoying taking the measurements and are delighted at how well our bulbs are progressing. Prof P: Hi Saint Anthony’s Primary, I’m glad to hear you are enjoying the project. I very much enjoy studying all the weather records that are sent in. And I especially like receiving lovely comments that show me others enjoy this project as much as I do! Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies.

Glyncollen Primary School: We have had good fun so far doing spring bulbs investigation! Prof P: I’m glad you are enjoying the project Bulb Buddies! There are lots more experiments and investigations you can do if you are enjoying this one, why not have a look at the MET Office website for idea! 


Saint Anthony's Primary School: We have noticed that the temperatures have recently been rising and falling. Prof P: Hi Saint Anthony’s Primary, I’m glad to hear that you are studying and comparing your weather records. You have had a bit of a jump, from -2 on Wednesday to 11 on Thursday! Differences like this can result from taking readings at different times of day, as the temperature will be consistently lower in the morning than in the afternoon! This is why it’s important to always try to take the readings at around the same time. However, this can also result from changes in the weather. I’m guessing it was a lot sunnier and less cloudy on Thursday compared to the rest of the week!

Our Lady of Peace Primary School: We hope our bulbs flower soon. We enjoyed planting them. Prof P: I’m sure it won’t be long now Our Lady of Peace Primary! One of my Crocus plants is nearly big enough, but it will be a while yet before my other plants flower! Isn’t it interesting to see that all of our plants are developing differently even though we planted them on the same day!


Keir Hardie Memorial Primary School: We have started to see that our bulbs are starting to grow. Some of our bulbs during the extremely windy weather blew over and were nearly out of the plant box and plant pot. However, we have seen some growth in a number of our plant pots and are hoping they will grow further. For the other ones that had blew over, we replanted them just in case there is any hope. This was a few weeks ago so hopefully we will see some change. Prof P: Hi Keir Hardie Memorial Primary, you did the right thing by re-planting your bulbs. I have my fingers crossed that they will still grow for you! I’m glad to hear that some of your plants have started to grow and that you are monitoring them so closely. Keep up the good work!

Glyncollen Primary School: We have had a broken thermometer on Monday and Tuesday. Professor Plant: Hi Glyncollen Primary. I’m sorry that your thermometer wasn’t working. But I’m glad to see that you fixed it or got a new one, and that you still took your rain fall readings. Good work!  

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School: Nearly all our bulbs have shoots now the weather is a bit warmer and the mystery bulbs have buds so it looks like we may have some flowers soon. E and O. Prof P: Ooo this is exciting! Once your mystery bulbs have flowered let me know what type of plant you think they might be! Keep up the god work!

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: Another strange week with the weather....high winds, cold and heavy rain, then beautiful sunshine! Our plants in the ground look as if they could be showing signs of opening.....but the one in pots seem rather behind....so we are on constant watch! Kind Regards, Gardening Club. Prof P: Hi Stanford in the Vale Primary Gardening Club! I’m glad to hear that your plants are doing well, and that you are comparing the growth of the plants in the ground to the plants in pots. It’s very interesting that these are developing differently, can you think of reasons why this might be?

Glyncollen Primary School: Some of our spring bulbs are starting to grow and our crocus! Prof P: That’s good news Glyncollen Primary, keep a close eye on them now because they’ll grow quickly!

Your questions, my answers

Posted by Penny Tomkins on 13 February 2015

Your crocus flowers will be purple in colour with orange anther and stigma (the parts inside the flower).

Hi Bulb Buddies,

I’d like to wish you all a fantastic half term! Don’t worry about your plants over the holidays, they will be fine! But be sure to check on them as soon as you get back, because the crocus plants can flower anytime from January onwards and so we should be expecting more flowering dates very soon!

I’ve had another brilliant joke from L at Thorn Primary School:

Q. Why do you call beetroot beetroot?

A. Because you have to beat the root to get them out!!

And more schools have sent exciting updates on their plants:

Silverdale St. John's CE School: The daffodils are about 5cm tall and one of them is around about 8cm tall! Prof P: Fantastic news Silverdale St. John's CE School you must be looking after them very well!

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School: This week is cold again with very frosty mornings, but we can now see some crocus shoots as well as the daffodils. The mystery bulbs have the tallest shoots. K M. Prof P: I’m excited that your Crocus plants have shown through. Isn’t it interesting how different the shoots look! Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!

Ysgol Nant Y Coed: It was a very dry week last week. Also, our daffodils are about 12-14cm tall now. Prof P: Wow Ysgol Nant Y Coed, make sure you keep a close eye on your plants! It doesn’t sound like it will be long now before you see your first flowers.

Ysgol Iau Hen Golwyn: I like this job. Prof P: I’m glad to hear it! There are lots of other experiments you can try if you are enjoying this one. Try the MET Office website for some great ideas for half term: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/education/kids/things-to-do/experiments

Rivington Foundation Primary School: We think that the temperature on Tuesday,Thursday and Friday was because the sun was hitting straight on to the thermometer. Prof P: Wow Rivington Foundation Primary! What high readings for week 6! That shows summer weather in February! Well done for spotting that this is unusual and questioning why your readings are so high. I think you are right and it must be because your thermometer was in the sun and you took the readings at the warmest time of day! I suggest that you turn the thermometer slightly so it is not in direct sunlight. This will give you more accurate readings. You are well on your way to becoming Super Scientists!!

Carstairs Primary School: Unfortunately we are unable to take the temperature because our temperature monitor has went missing with all of the snow. Prof P: Wow, that must be a lot of snow you are having Carstairs Primary School! Thank you for taking the rain fall readings despite the wintery weather! I see these were high all week, did you have to take the rain gauge inside to melt the snow before taking your readings?

Hi Kirkton Primary School. Just to let you know that you’ve had the coldest weather reported so far for week 6 at -6ÌŠ!! Brrrrr!! And Thorn Primary School had the second warmest reading of week 6 at 13ÌŠ. I wonder how this will affect your plants! I’ll be watching both of your weather records and flowering dates with interest to compare!

Enjoy the holidays Bulb Buddies!!

Professor Plant

Winter to Spring

Posted by Penny Tomkins on 9 February 2015

Snowdrops at St Fagans National History Museum.

Hi Bulb Buddies,

I’d like to share a few pictures with you. Remember, if you ask your teacher to send pictures of your plants to me I can share them with other schools involved in the project! I’m especially interested in pictures that show the change of seasons, like spring flowers submerged in winter snow!

A wintery spider web at the National Roman Legion Museum

Daffodils at St Fagans National History Museum. Can you tell which plants have buds and which have flowers?

There has been some confusion over when to enter your flowering dates online. You can monitor how tall your plants are growing each week and let me know in the ‘comments’ section when you enter your weekly weather records. But the ‘flowering date’ and the height of your plant on the day it flowers are to be entered on the NMW website only once the flower has opened. 

Look at the picture above of Daffodils at St Fagans National History Museum. This picture was taken on a cold day, so the flowers haven’t fully opened. But, you can still tell which ones have flowered by looking closely at the picture. If you can clearly see all of the petals then your plant has flowered. Before flowering the petals are held tight in a protective casing and look like this: 

This is a flower bud.

This is a flower bud. Once the flower has matured inside the bud (and the weather is warm enough) the casing will begin to open. This can take a few hours or a few days! If you watch your plants carefully you might see this happening! Once you can see all of your petals and the casing isn’t restricting them at all you can measure the flowers height and enter your findings on the website. Once you have done this a flower will appear on the Map showing where your school is!

You can practice measuring the height of your plants to see how quickly they grow. If your plants are still small you can measure from the top of the soil. But, when you come to take the final reading to enter on the website we ask that you measure from the top rim of your plant pot to the highest point of your flower.

Have you compared the heights of the flowers in your class? Are there big differences in the size and maturity of the plants, or are they all very similar? What about the plants planted in the ground? Are these any bigger than the ones in your plant pots? Why do you think this is? You can let me know your thoughts in the ‘comments’ section when you enter your weekly weather records!

Once the bulbs start to grow send your stories and pictures to our bulb-blog and follow Professor Plant on Twitter

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!

Professor Plant

P.S. Don’t worry if your bulbs haven’t sprouted yet. It’s still early days and I’m sure it won’t be long! Mine haven't all shown above the soil yet...

My Daffodils and Crocus are growing too!!

Your questions, my answers

Posted by Penny Tomkins on 4 February 2015

Thank you bulb buddies from Professor Plant and baby bulb!

Hello Bulb Buddies,

I would like to share a humorous rhyme from R at Thorn Primary School: "If I was a dog and you were a flower I’d lift my leg and give you a shower!"

Thorn Primary School: What happens to the plants after they have flowered? Do they die? Prof P: Hi Thorn Primary School. This is a very important question. Your bulbs won’t die after they have flowered! The leaves of your plant make food and the roots absorb water. When your flower dies the bulb stores all remaining food and water inside itself ready for next Autumn. Your teacher has information on how to care for your bulbs after your flowers die, and I will blog about it closer to the time. But this won’t happen until the end of Spring – so enjoy your flowers while they are here!

Skelmorlie Primary School: This week we have had a lot of snow and sleet in our weather. It has been really cold so we have had to look out for ice when we are playing too. In our water gauge this week, there was around 13 mm of water and 37 mm of ice/snow. Prof P: Hi Skelmorlie Primary School. I’m glad to hear you are being careful when you are outside, the weather can cause dangerous conditions! I’m assuming you melted the 37mm of snow to 13mm of water. Was there less water than you thought there would be? This is because water expands when it freezes and evaporates when it heats! I’d like to thank you for all the weekly comments you have sent me – you are definitely Super Scientists!

St. Ignatius Primary School: Professor Plant we missed some recordings this week due to the bad weather here. Our teacher decided it was not safe enough for us to go out and collect the recordings. Today we had a big piece of ice in our rainfall gauge so if that melted our rainfall would be more. The raifall gauge was also this full as it includes the 3 days we didn't take recordings. St. Ignatius Primary 4. Prof P: Hello St Ignatius Primary 4. Not to worry about missing some recordings due to bad weather – if it’s icy it’s better to stay warm and safe! As for the block of ice, you are not the only school to have had this problem. If this happens again please take your rain gauge inside and wait for the ice to melt. Then record the water level as rain fall on your weather chart!

Morningside Primary School: We brought our rain gauge in on Monday as it was full of snow and let it melt before we took the measurement. Prof P: Well done Morningside Primary School, you really are Super Scientists! I hope you enjoyed the experiment. I always try to guess how much water there will be when the ice melts!  Other schools have had the chance to do this experiment too, including Corshill Primary School.

Chryston Primary School: We are terribly sorry that we could not finish our records last week. We have been very busy with our Scottish afternoon and the weather here has been horrible. Hopefully we will finish our records next week. Prof P: Not to worry Chryston Primary School. Scottish afternoon sounds exciting! I hope you had a good week!

Thorn Primary School: We had lots of snow this week as well as lots of ice! We have no recording for Thursday as our school was closed due to the ice making it unsafe for staff and children to arrive. Prof P: Not to worry Thorn Primary School, other schools were unable to complete their records due to bad weather too! And lots of schools have reported snow, including: Woodlands Primary School, St. Brigid's School, Ysgol Hiraddug, Abbey Primary School, Manor Road Primary School, Rivington Foundation Primary School, Bickerstaffe CE Primary School and Balshaw Lane Community Primary School.

Our Lady of Peace Primary School: It has been very windy,snowy and icy. Two girls fell today at playtime and lunchtime on the ice and hurt themselves. It snowed last Tuesday and Wednesday. The two girl that fell are the girls that wrote this. Prof P: Hello, I’m sorry to hear you fell on the ice! I hope you weren’t badly hurt! I hope children at other schools take note and that everyone is extra careful when outdoors in this weather!

Ysgol Y Plas: Dear professor plant I thought you would like to know that nineteen bulbs in the flower bed have been growing and sixteen in the pots have started as well. From C. Prof P: Hi C, that’s great news! Other schools have reported new shoots too, including Skelmorlie Primary School!

Tongwynlais Primary School: We have no rain records for monday and tuesday as a few of our fellow pupils have been playing with our rain gage. We hope we can collect more accurate measurements next week. Prof P: Thank you for letting me know TongwynlaisPrimary School. Other schools have been having problems with their rain gauges too. Including Euxton Church of England Primary School whose rain gauge has been repeatedly knocked over by football players! They have found a new location for their rain gauge now.

Darran Park Primary: I have got a new friend doing this job now - he enjoys doing it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Prof P: Haha, well I’m guessing that not everyone at Darran Park Primary is enjoying this project! I hope your new friend can show you how much fun science can be and that you come to enjoy the project as much as he does!

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School: It has been really icy in the mornings but the daffodil shoots are getting taller. F. Prof P: Good to know F. You must be looking after them very well!

Bancyfelin: 1 mm of snow fell on Thursday 29th of January. This means that 4mm of rain + 1mm of snow fell on this day. Prof P: Well done Bancyfelin. I assume you measured the snow using snow sticks? I see you recorded 4mm of rain, so I assume the snow melted in your rain gauge!

Baird Memorial Primary School: We are surprised by the changes that occurred within the temperature side of things. The changes were dramatic. Prof P: Hi Baird Memorial Primary School. You are right, there is quite a jump in your temperature readings from -1°c on Thursday to 11°c on Friday! This shows how temperamental the weather can be. Drops in temperature are often caused by cold winds, clouds and precipitation (rain and snow).

Ysgol Nant Y Coed: We enjoyed doing we like doing it very much its so FUN!!!! This is are last time doing it :(wahhhhhhhh we wish we could do it again-S and A. Prof P: Hi S & A! I’m glad you are enjoying the project and I hope you have learnt a lot! There are other scientific experiments you can take part in. I’m guessing its someone else’s turn to take the temperature and rain fall readings for this project now. But you could easily do a similar experiment at home! The MET Office have a Weather Observation Website (WOW) where they ask people to document temperature reading from their area. This information then helps Meteorologists to build a clearer picture of weather patterns across the UK. You can take part here: http://wow.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/manual .

Ysgol Clocaenog: Heddiw, rydym wedi gweld bod ein cennin pedr yn dechrau tyfu. Mae cennin pedr K wedi tyfu 1.5cm. Mae rhai ohonynt dal heb ddechrau eto. Athro'r Ardd: Wel, rwy'n falch o glywed bod eich Cennin Pedr wedi cychwyn tyfu. Mae'n swnio fel bod bwlb K yn tyfu yn gyflym iawn! Daliwch ati gyda'r gwaith da Ysgol Clocaenog!

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!!

Professor Plant

January 2015

The changing seasons

Posted by Penny Tomkins on 30 January 2015

Earth on it's axis (from BBC Bitesize website)

Hello Bulb Buddies,

I’d like to thank those of you who sent in your weather data last week. And especially those of you who sent in jokes, keep them coming!

Some of the comments this week noted that the weather is getting warmer and that the days are getting longer. For this reason I thought it would be interesting to talk a bit about the seasons!

There are four seasons in the year. Winter, spring, summer and autumn. We are still in winter, which is the coldest season.

Spring starts around 20th March (the Spring Equinox) and is when we see most flowers bloom, the weather gets warmer, and many animals have their young. Lambs in the fields are a good sign that spring has arrived!

The summer comes in full force from June to September, and is when we have the warmest weather and the longest daylight hours. Luckily for you it’s also when you get your longest school holidays!

Autumn takes hold from late September, and this is when the days become shorter and the weather begins to get colder! This is when the leaves turn colour to oranges, reds and browns and fall from the trees. And when animals like squirrels hoard food for the long winter ahead. Winter arrives again in December, and stays until mid-March.

Do you know why we get seasons? What causes the weather to change so dramatically throughout the year? Well, it’s because the Earth is turning around the Sun at an angle. The picture below shows the earth in relation to the sun. The earth turns (rotates) on its axis (imagine a line joining the North and South poles) as it moves around (orbits) the Sun.

It takes the Earth 365 days to travel once around the sun. The length of a planets year is the time it takes for it to complete one orbit of its star. So a year on Earth is measured as the passing of 365 days. 

The Seasons (from the BBC Bitesize website)

The picture above shows the Earth’s rotation around the Sun. The axis is shown by the red line at the North and South poles. You can see that the axis (red line) is at a different angle to the Earth’s orbit (the dotted line). This means that each day we are at a slightly different angle to the Sun than we were the day before. This is what causes a difference in the number of daylight hours we get. Fewer daylight hours (winter) means less light and heat, making this time of the year colder. More daylight hours (summer) means more light and heat, which makes it warmer!

The UK is in what is known as the ‘North hemisphere’, this means we are closer to the North Pole than the South Pole. Notice that in the picture the North pole (the red line pointing up) is leaning towards the Sun in the June and away from the sun in the December. This angle is what causes the change in daylight hours as the Earth orbits the sun over the course of the year.

Other countries experience the changes in daylight hours at different times of the year. In Australia it is summer in December! And in Iceland they have sunlight for days in a row in the summer and darkness for as long in the winter! Imagine the sun being out at midnight!

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies,

Professor Plant

The Big Garden Birdwatch

Posted by Penny Tomkins on 23 January 2015

Starlings (picture from RSPB website)

Hello Bulb Buddies,

There is an exciting scientific survey being conducted this weekend, and your help is needed! It’s called the Big Garden Birdwatch and is organised by the RSPB, a conservation charity that help to look after our wildlife. You can help by registering online here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/ and downloading an information pack. You then spend one hour this weekend documenting the birds that visit your garden or a green space near your home. The information pack on the RSPB website has a guide to help you identify the birds! Then, upload your findings to the RSPB website so that they can feed into the nationwide survey of bird populations, aimed at providing an insight into how our feathery friends are doing in the wild!

The Big Garden Birdwatch has been running since 1979! You can find out about previous results here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/previous-results/ . An annual, nationwide survey is a fantastic way to spot changes in bird populations. This is important, because if we know that numbers of a certain bird are dwindling, we can start to look at why this is happening and make changes that will help those birds to survive. An example of this is the Starling. The Big Garden Birdwatch has shown an 80% decrease in the Starling population since 1979. The RSPB has been raising awareness of what we can do to help these birds, such as keeping the grass in parts of our gardens short so that Starlings can more easily reach the grubs and insects they feed on near the roots of the grass.

Starling in the winter (picture courtesy of the RSPB website).

Here are some ideas on how to attract birds to your garden: http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/387868-top-10-bird-feeding-tips-this-winter . And some fun, bird-related activities: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/family-fun/ .

St Fagans National History Museum and National Museum Cardiff will be hosting Big Garden Birdwatch activities this weekend! If you want to be involved here are links to the What’s On guides for more details:

Cardiff         St Fagans

 

I’d like to send a big thank you to those of you who sent your weather data in last week. I’m looking forward to this weeks data and finding out whether it has been warmer or colder and how many of you have had snow or hail!! Remember, if you send all your data in and let me know online when your plants have flowered, then you will receive Super Scientist awards and be in for a chance to win a Nature Trip!

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!

Professor Plant

Your questions, my answers

Posted by Penny Tomkins on 19 January 2015

Thank you bulb buddies from Professor Plant and baby bulb!

Hello Bulb Buddies,

I'm happy to report the first signs of spring at National Museum Cardiff! Daffodils have started growing at the Museum!

Daffodils growing at National Museum Cardiff


I’d like to share a joke from St. Paul's Primary School. This did make me laugh! If anyone has any other science, nature or (particularly) plant related jokes then please send them in!

Q.        Why was the computer cold?
A.        Because it left its windows open!

Coppull Parish Primary School: Friday's rain measurement may be misleading as it was not water but hailstones! Professor P: Hi Coppull Parish Primary, I always like to watch hail but hate to get caught in it! The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School also reported that their rain gauge filled with hail stones! The readings shouldn’t be miss-leading if you do the same as we do to measure snow. If it hails again, take the rain gauge inside and wait for the hail to melt, then record the water level as rainfall. 

Thorn Primary School: Hi Professor Plant, We have had snow this week! It snowed on Tuesday night and a little bit on Wednesday morning then for most of the day on Friday. Is there anything we need to do to care for our bulbs during snowy weather? Most of our bulbs now have shoots. Prof P: Hi Thorn Primary School, I hope you enjoyed the snow and it wasn’t too cold! Your plants are quite sturdy and will be Okay outside in this weather. The soil provides a warm layer for the bulb and protects it from the cold. You might notice that daffodils planted in the ground are growing quicker than those in your plant pots. That is because the soil is thicker around bulbs planted in the ground and so is providing more warmth. This shows how important warmth is to growing plants and why changes in the climate have an effect on when plants grow and flower!

St. Ignatius Primary School: Dear, Professor Plant. We brought our plants in over the Christmas holidays and when we came back we noticed some of the shoots had come up. We are so excited about this but hope it's not too soon for them to be growing. Also we have had some really windy and wet weather so some of or plants had fallen over. We think they are ok and we will keep an eye on them. Thanks P4 St. Ignatius. Prof P: Hi P4 at St. Ignatius Primary! I’m sorry to hear the wind blew over your plants, but am very glad that they are all Okay! It’s great that your plants have started growing and don’t worry, it’s not too early! Other schools have reported their first shoots too, including St. Brigid's School, Bickerstaffe CE Primary School, Stanford in the Vale Primary School and Freuchie Primary School. Silverdale St. John's CE School have informed me that their shoots are now 3cm high! I'm happy to report that my plants have started to grow too!

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Primary School: Over the holidays it had rained so much that the rain gauge had filled up and tipped to one side so some of the water had tipped out. We are really enjoying collecting the weather data and watching the shoots growing from the bulbs. Thank you for sending them to us. K and J. Prof P: Hi K & J, Thank you for letting me know that your rain gauge had tipped over and for monitoring the weather so well! You must have had a lot of rain! I’m glad you are taking good care of the bulbs and watching the shoots closely. Other schools have had similar problems with their rain gauges on coming back from the holidays. Rivington Foundation Primary School and Llanishen Fach C.P School reported that their rain gauges were overflowing on their first day back! 

Ysgol Nant Y Coed: There should be rainfall on Wed and Thurs but the rain gauge had been tipped over. We're very sorry. We've now put a second, back up rain gauge out so it shouldn't happen again. C and E. Prof P: Hi Ysgol Nant Y Coed, don’t worry about your rain gauge falling over but thank you for letting me know! And well done for thinking of a solution and putting out a second rain gauge! St Laurence CE Primary School have been having the same problem, maybe they could try using a back-up rain gauge too! Or, they could secure their rain gauge (maybe by tying it to a fence or post) or move it to an area where it might be more sheltered from the wind but will still be able to collect rainfall! 

Darran Park Primary: Sorry for not doing it for a couple of weeks but we couldn’t find this page. I really enjoyed the Christmas card and we will use the coupon to improve our school garden which we also use as a learning area. Prof P: Hello Darran Park Primary! The gift vouchers were from our sponsors at the Edina Trust, and I’m glad to hear you are putting them to good use. As for being late recording your readings, that’s fine, you can still upload readings for previous weeks! 

Darran Park Primary: Professor Plant we have checked our crocuses and our daffodils and some are starting to get bigger and healthier. I enjoyed the Christmas card you gave me. I had to photocopy it so my friend Brandon and I could have one each, we are going to use the £10 voucher on our school garden. We really enjoy checking the temperature and the plants and we really enjoy talking to you and please could you send a letter telling us more information about your museum and more information on plants and more about history. Prof P:  Hello Darran Park Primary, what a lovely comment, thank you very much! I would like to see a photo of your school garden when the flowers start to bloom! I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying the project and are looking after your plants so well. I will of course send a letter with some more information about National Museum Wales. You can also explore the seven Museum sites online: http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/. The closest to you are St Fagans National History Museum, which run regular out door nature activities and National Museum Cardiff, which has wonderful galleries exploring Natural History. There is an exciting exhibition on at the moment which I think you would like: http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/whatson/?id=7233

Keir Hardie Memorial Primary School: We did not get the chance to check the weather records for the rainfall because the weather was rainy and snowy all week so our interval and lunchtimes were indoor. We were able to record the temperature because Miss Nicholls did the reading at the playground door. From Primary 4/5. Prof P: Not to worry Keir Hardie Memorial Primary, thank you for letting me know why there are no rainfall records and well done for recording the temperature! Other schools have reported colder weather, strong winds and storms! These include Arkholme CE Primary School, St. Brigid's School, Ysgol Rhys Prichard, St. Paul's Primary School, Maes-y-Coed Primary and Morningside Primary School. Stanford Gardening Club at Stanford in the Vale Primary have also noticed changing patterns through the week, reporting ‘very cold weather, snow Tuesday, rain Thursday and high winds during the week. Then today Friday the sun is out!’

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!

Professor Plant

Snow fall and snow depth

Posted by Penny Tomkins on 16 January 2015

Hello Bulb Buddies, 

Thank you for sending in last weeks readings. The weather has definitely been getting colder – and some of you have even reported snow! For this reason I want to talk to you about how Meteorologists (weather scientists) measure snow. 

It is a lot trickier to measure the amount of snow that falls than it is to measure the amount of rain. This is because snow misbehaves! Snow is often blown by the wind into drifts, which causes some areas of deep snow and less snow in the areas around it. Because the snow fall is uneven the measurements from these places will be wrong! This is why we have to measure snow on flat surfaces, in the open and away from areas where drifts happen! Snow also likes to play games with Meteorologists who want to measure it, it melts into water and re-freezes into ice! This means that the snow measured on the ground isn’t always the same as the amount of snow that has fallen. Another problem is that new snow settles on old snow, so it is difficult to tell how much snow has fallen in one day from the snow that fell the day before! 

Meteorologists have to take all these tricks the snow plays, and work around them to discover how much snow has fallen. They look at snow fall (the amount of snow that falls in one day) and snow depth (how deep the total snow level is, old snow and new snow). One way that Meteorologists measure snow fall is to use a piece of ply wood. They place the wood in an open location away from areas where snow drifts occur, and measure the snow on the board at 6hr intervals, clearing the snow from the board each time they measure it. This means they are only measuring the snow from that day, which will tell them how much snow has fallen on that day in that area! 

Snow fall can also be measured in its melted state, as water. This means that you can use your rain gauge to measure the water equivalent of snow fall! If you only get a bit of snow then it should melt in your rain gauge anyway. But if you get a lot of snow, take your rain gauge inside to the warm and wait for the snow to melt into water. Then measure the water in the same way as you have done each week and report this as rain fall in your weather logs. 

If you have snow and enough time for an extra experiment – why not have a go at measuring snow depth? To do this all you need is a ruler (also known as a snow stick!). Place the snow stick into the snow until it touches the surface underneath, and read the depth of the snow.You need to take these measurements from flat surfaces (benches work well) in open areas and away from snow drifts! You need to take at least three separate measurements to work out the average snow depth in your area. You work out the average measurement by adding the different readings together and dividing them by the number of measurements. So, if I measured the snow depth of three surfaces at 7cm, 9cm and 6cm, I would add these together (7+9+6 =22) and divide that by three, because there are three readings (22÷3=7.33). So 7.33 would be my average reading for snow depth on that date. 

Weather stations such as the MET Office have come up with new ways of measuring snow depth, using new technologies. The picture below shows one of the MET Offices snow stations. These use laser sensors to measure how deep the snow is on the flat surface placed below it. This means that Meteorologists can collect readings from all over the country at the push of a button – which is far more reliable and a lot easier than sending people out into the cold with snow sticks! The map below shows how many snow stations the MET office has and where these are, is there one close to you? 

This is what the METOffice’s Snow Depth sensors look like!

(MET Office website)

Map showing the MET Office’s Snow Depth sensors – is there one near you?

(Image courtesy of MET Office website)

If you have snow and measure the snow fall with your rain gauge or the snow depth with a snow stick, then please tell me in the ‘comments’ section when you are logging your weekly records! I would be very interested to know what the snow depth is compared to the snow fall collected in your rain gauge! 

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies, 

Professor Plant

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