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Distance Learning Young Naturalists Club

Week 1 Round Up

Hello everyone! Today we are going to wrap up the week by sharing what YOU found in the Signs of Spring and iNaturalist lessons.

Then we’ll challenge you to take it further, and investigate dandelions! You’ll investigate when, where, and how many dandelions have popped up–using both your observations, and others’ observations.

This Week’s Finds

Thanks to everyone who was able to get out and explore this week! You can still upload your nature finds to our blog and remember to also upload them on iNaturalist.


Finding a Species or Place on iNaturalist

We are about to challenge you to investigate patterns in dandelions. To do this, you’ll need to know how to search for observations of certain species and in certain places.

For example, what have people found growing in your town? Let’s look for dandelions people have observed near Nelsonville, OH.

Read the directions below or watch this video. I’m exploring dandelions near Nelsonville. But you can do this to explore any species or place.

Step 1.

 Go to https://www.inaturalist.org/

Step 2. 

Click on EXPLORE (you do not need an account for this feature)

Step. 3 

Type in “Common Dandelion” in the species box and “Nelsonville, OH” in the location box. Then click the orange “Go” button.

Step 4. 

If you don’t see many observations, try zooming out. Use the + and – buttons on the map. After zooming out, click the orange “Redo search in map” button, and more observations will appear.

Step 5.

Click on one of the Common Dandelion observations.

Note all the information this gives you! We will focus on when the photo was taken. This helps scientists learn what plants are doing at certain times of year, like if they are blooming early or later than usual.

What else can you find out about the dandelion you clicked on?

Play with exploring more species or places, and tell us what you discover!


Dandelion Challenge Part 1:

Dandelion Count

Working together, we are going to record as many dandelions as we can find, and share with each other. Where do you think we’ll find the most?

You will need:

  • your nearest greenspace (backyard, neighborhood park, etc.)
  • a ball/scarf/hat, or other soft item you can gently throw without damage
  • pencil and paper
  • optional: iNaturalist app

Step 1. 

Once in your greenspace, find a dandelion.

Are there any dandelions within arms reach of the first one? If yes, write down the number on your paper.

Don’t count any dandelions that are farther away than you can reach.

If you are using iNaturalist, take a picture of the dandelion and upload it!

Step 2.

Pick up your soft item. Make sure that you are not going to hit anyone with it! Then, toss it randomly in any direction.

Go to where your object landed. Are there any dandelions within arm’s reach of it? As in Step 1, count all of those dandelions and write it down.

I demonstrate how to sample dandelions for the dandelion count. Repeat 10 times (no more, no less!).

Step 3.

Repeat until you have done this 10 times total.

Only counting dandelions within a certain area is called “sampling” in science. If we all count dandelions the same way, we can compare our numbers better. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know if you counted more dandelions than me because dandelions are growing more densely there, or just because your yard is bigger than mine!

Step 4. 

Share in the comments:

  • How many dandelions did you find?
  • Where were the most and where were the fewest dandelions?
  • Was there anything on or around the dandelions, like insects? Insects might be very small or very fast so you will have to be sneaky. Upload any cool bugs to iNaturalist or in the comments here!
Can you tell what insect is on this dandelion?

Happy hunting!


Dandelion Challenge Part 2:

When did the dandelions start to bloom?

Remember looking up dandelions in Nelsonville on iNaturalist above? Here’s where you’ll use your skills.

Step 1. 

Hypothesize what time of year the dandelions began to bloom in our area. Ask family or friends when they started noticing the yellow blooms.

Step 2.

Use iNat to search for common dandelions in your area.

Step 3. 

Look at dandelion observations from different dates. It might be helpful to look at recent photos first and work backwards to notice the difference between bloom times. The plants should look different depending on what time of year the photo was taken.

When do you think the dandelions in our area began to bloom this year? How do you know? Tell us why in the comments!

Dandelion observation from iNaturalist

Thank you for joining us and stay tuned for more cool nature activities next week!

-Dani

Summary

  1. Explore observations on iNaturalist of species and places you’re interested in. Tell us what you find!

    (Are there turtles near your town? Venus fly traps near your grandparents? Something else?)
  2. Count the dandelions near you, using the tossing method. Share how many you counted, so we can build a data set together.
  3. When do you think the dandelions started blooming in your area? Look on iNaturalist for evidence. Share your hypothesis and evidence below.

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