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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

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

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

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

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