Monthly Archives: January 2011

Up Close and Personal

Yertle on January 28th

This week, we will be traveling to the New England Aquarium to observe Yertle and Bowser’s Laparoscopies as well as observe other creatures in their habitats.

Most tanks in the Aquarium represent specific habitats. Each habitat is home to a unique array of plants and animals. Making careful observations is one way

Scientist learns more about animals. By spending more time and focusing more closely on what is going on in individual tanks and with individual animals you can observe and learn a lot about the animal and it’s surroundings.

So to get ready to go on Wednesday, we’ll do an observation of our Blanding’s turtle teachers.  Watch the video and then incorporate the following questions into a creative non-fiction piece.  You should write this in the first person voice (aka become one of the turtles)

1.  What do the turtles look like?  Make careful observations of the color, lines, spots, stripes, or other markings. Be very detailed when discussing their eyes, neck, feet, and mouth as well as the rest of the turtle.  What adaptations do the Blanding’s turtles have to help them survive in the world?

2.  What are Bowser and Yertle doing in all parts of the movie (Yertle is featured first)?   Do the turtles  move around or do they stayin the same place? Where is it spending most of its time? Why do you think so?

3. Describe the type of place where Yertle and Bowser live.  Is there anyplace to hide?  Is there anyplace to hold onto?  Are there any rocks or sand?  Are there any plants or other living things?

This post is due on Wednesday.  It should be written in paragraphs.  You should edit carefully for spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation.  You should also use proper vocabulary associated with turtles.


One of the Blanding's turtles at the Toronto Zoo

Over the next couple of weeks, we will have the opportunity to Skype with Brennan Caverhill, a biologist who specializes in Blanding’s turtles at the Toronto Zoo.  To prepare for this talk, I want you to read over the following articles and then develop some questions that we can ask during our on-line discussion.

Urban Turtle Initiative

Meet the Turtles

Then for your post, write down some questions that we can ask Mr. Caverhill about what they are doing to protect the Blanding’s turtles in Canada.  Each person should have four to five questions and should write a small letter.

What Does It Mean???

Graph of Mean Turtle Weights

A good friend and colleague of mine likes to say when it comes to analyzing data, “what does it mean?”  To the left, is a graph of the mean weight of the Blanding’s turtle hatchlings.  The three elementary schools, the other 2010 hatchlings, and the data from the 2008 and 2009 hatchlings are all represented here.   Take a close look at the graph (you can click on it to enlarge it) and then answer the following questions.  Make sure you use complete sentences, label your answers, and make sure you use grams in your answers and not (g).

a.  What do you notice about the Thoreau hatchlings compared to the other hatchlings.  Why do you think this is so?

b.  In general, how do all the 2010 hatchlings compare to the 2008 and 2009 hatchlings?  Why do you think there is a difference?




Some of mother 2031's hatchlings

What Does It Mean?  Part Two

When I was looking at the data this weekend, I noticed some really interesting pieces of data and was wondering what you thought about this data.  So, take a look at this chart and answer a few questions about this data.

Chart Comparing Mother 2031's Hatchlings

a.  What is the range of the January weights for Turtle #2031’s hatchlings?

b.  Do you think this range is typical if you looked at Yertle and Bowser’s mother’s hatchlings in January?

c.  What are the outliers for these hatchlings?

d. What is the median weight for these hatchlings?

2031's nest

e.   How does  Yertle at 68 grams and Bowser at 70 grams compare to the median weight of these hatchlings?

f.  What might account for the weights of this particular bunch of hatchlings?

One of 2031's hatchlings hatching!


Dear Yertle and Bowser

Yertle and Bowser on January 2nd

As I fed and cleaned out Yertle and Bowser’s tank today, I thought about how large they have become since the end of August.  I wondered how the Summer 2010 hatchlings, who were not head-started, are doing in the wild.

So, I did a little research on-line about what happens with the turtles in the winter.  Here’s the information:

The Blanding’s Turtle

While most animals who hibernate choose to do so in deep caves and underground burrows, there is a native species the prefers the bottoms of lakes, marshes and wetlands.

The Blanding’s turtle hibernates completely underwater from late October or early November until the early spring. The cold-blooded reptile only needs to burrow itself in cold, muddy bottoms to stay warm. Its metabolism also slows so little oxygen in needed and it doesn’t have to search for food. Unlike most turtles, the Blanding’s is quite happy in the cold water; on occasion it is seen slowly swimming underneath the ice in areas where they winter –  like the Great Lakes.

Many Blanding’s Turtles are still active in the early winter. As winter progresses and temperatures drop they do hibernate to avoid freezing. It has been reported that Hibernation usually occurs underwater in the mud or near the entrance to a muskrat’s hovel.

Even during winter dormancy, turtles occasionally change position, and some, like the painted and Blanding’s turtles, can be seen moving slowly about under the ice.

During the winter, they hibernate by burrowing in silt on the bottom of a pond, bay, river, or other body of water to stay warm. Because they are cold-blooded they can keep body heat this way, and they don’t have to stay awake all winter looking for food.

I went down to Great Meadows on Sunday and remembered when we were there this fall and how Dr. Windmiller had the two Blanding’s turtles that live there at Great Meadows.  I wondered about how Nacho and the 50 year old turtle were doing, along with the hatchlings that were released.


So, your assignment is to write a letter to Yertle and Bowser from one of the hatchlings who was not head-started.  In your letter, you should include the following information:

Great Meadows on Sunday

1.  specific information about the weather.  You should mention temperature, wind speed, any precipitation, and what the barometric pressure is like.  Use good descriptive words when describing the conditions on Sunday.

2.  information about what the weight and length of the hatchling that is writing the letter.

Where we stood at Great Meadows during our visit in the fall

3.  Information about what the hatchling is doing at Great Meadows and what they might be eating.

4.  Feelings:  how does the hatchling feel being outside when Yertle and Bowser are living the life of luxury?

5.  Looking forward to:  What is the hatchling looking forward to showing Yertle and Bowser when they are released in the late spring

Your letter is due on WEDNESDAY and should be at least TWO paragraphs in length.  Be creative and have fun with this assignment.

Make sure you do it on a word processing program first, and edit it very carefully.  Also, make sure you use your NEW Erickson class number!

Path in the reeds leading to the water