After being “shaken, not stirred,” last week, our biosphere has managed to remain undisturbed. The top layer floating on the water drooped down in the front, looking gel-like, right after the biosphere was shaken. It has stayed just like that ever since–you can see it in the center near the top of the jar. Otherwise, the black layer at the top of the mud under the water layer looks a little bit thicker, and the water is still clear. We are wondering whether the project will be “set back” due to it being disrupted, but we haven’t observed anything major other than the change in the water surface.
I found a couple of books on our shelf that are a nice accompaniment to the Microbe Biosphere project:
Pasteur’s Fight Against Microbes–Pasteur’s explorations in 1856 led to our understanding of microbes today. This is an easy-to-read book with lots of illustrations that will appeal to kids. This entire series of “Science Stories” are really well-done.
The Magic School Bus: In a Pickle–In this Magic School Bus book, the gang shrinks down to the size of microbes and discover how they change things, like turning cucumbers into pickles. Scholastic has a free lesson plan and Getting Moldy printable that accompany this book. If you do a search on YouTube, you can also view the video of this episode, in two parts.
When I checked on our Microbe Biosphere last night, the surface of the water had smoothed back out, and the droopy part was gone! Hopefully, we are back on track.
Our microbe biosphere has continued to remain undisturbed and has shown some more changes. The black top layer has gotten much thicker and chunky. The second photo is a truer representation of the color of the dirt–it started out red like clay, and it has now taken on a yellowish/tan color. There seem to be more black spots throughout and some cracks or fissures throughout the dirt. If you look closely just under the lid of the jar and to the right, there is some bright yellowish/orange growth on the surface of the water that goes almost entirely around the surface (at lease 3/4 around the jar.) When you shine a light directly on it, it almost takes on a neon color, and it looks like it has tiny fine threads flowing in it, like spider-webs. The level of the water appears higher, and I’m concerned that it will reach the lid.
I tried to get some close-up photos of the changes in our microbe biosphere, but this flash photos are blurry, and we’re trying not to disturb the biosphere by moving it. Up near the top of the jar, going about 3/4 of the way around, there is an orange area. It looks transparent and frothy, and the color is almost fluorescent.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the biosphere project, we are following along with The Magnifying Glass on their Microbe Biosphere project as an addition to our nature studies. If you join in, be sure to take photos at the beginning and at points along the way. You don’t realize how much the biosphere changes and develops until you look back at the earlier photos. You can also have your kids add updated drawings in their nature journals or notebooks as you go along.