On November 7, our class went to the Mesa Arts Center to see National Geographic Live. We heard from Paul Nicklen, a photographer for National Geographic. He talked about his adventures photographing animals in their habitats all over the world. He said that he got interested in nature when he was a little boy, exploring his home on Baffin Island in Northern Canada.
We decided to explore our own environment and learn more about our natural surroundings. Our school is surrounded by desert, and just to the south of our school there is a marked nature trail called Traynor’s Trail, which is named for a former teacher at our school. Last Thursday our whole third grade went on a walk on the trail, led by Mrs. Salmon, who is an expert hiker. We took pictures of the unique desert plants we saw on the way. Here are collages of photos made by members of our class (made on iPads with the PicPlayPost app).
When we got back we did some research about some of the plants we saw. Here are some of the facts we learned:
- Barrel cactus can grow greenish fruit and orange flowers.
- The palo verde tree grows yellow flowers and 2-3 inch pods filled with seeds.
- Palo verde is the state tree of Arizona. Its name means “green stick” in Spanish.
- A barrel cactus can grow up to be ten feet tall. They hold lots of water so they can last a long time in the desert.
- Mistletoe is a plant parasite which grows on desert trees. It takes nutrients away from the trees and if it isn’t controlled it can kill the tree.
- Cholla is sometimes called “jumping cactus” because the fruit can break off and cling to people and animals when they walk by.
- The Saguaro cactus is protected in Arizona. It can be a home and provide food for many desert animals.
We didn’t expect to see many animals on our walk. Most desert animals stay hidden during the day, and the snakes and other reptiles we sometimes see in the desert are usually dormant this time of year. We were very surprised when a sharp-eyed hiker noticed this animal. It was off the trail, hiding under branches that provided camouflage, but Mrs. Moore was able to get a good picture with her camera.
Can you see the rattlesnake? That was a good reminder for us to always stay alert when walking in the desert!
Have you ever gone on a nature walk?
Can you define all the bold words in this post?