Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Measurements and Field Method

Part 1 A Qualitative vs. Quantitative, Dimensional Analysis and Growth

Qualitative observations from my quadrant sampling.

1. Lots of plants in natural colors are in my quadrant. Nothing bright and vibrant.
2.Amidst the live plants there are several dead plants and broken off tumbleweed.

Quantative observations from my quadrant sampling.

1. There are at least 4+ different forms of life in said quadrant.
2. There are other living organisms living in the quadrant.

Part 1 B Dimensional Analysis 

It is 4 miles from here to Lake Isabelle. What is this distance in kilometers?

1 mile = 0.62 kilometers

4 miles x 1 kilometer   = ? kilometers
                0.62 miles

4 miles x 1 kilometer  = ? kilometers
                0.62 miles
                                    =  6.45 kilometers

Part 1 C Linear vs. Exponential Growth

This Linear Growth Chart shows how much an employee is paid over the 1st 35 days of employment. This person is paid $6.00 on the 1st day with a $6.00 a day raise thereafter.  

This Exponential Growth Chart also shows how much an employee is paid over the 1st 35 days of employment. This person is paid $1.00 on the 1st day with a 25% increase each day. 

B1. Which earning strategy is the most profitable?
     Being paid in exponential growth is more profitable.

B2. Which would have seemed most profitable if you had stopped at six days?
       Being paid in Linear growth would have seemed to be more profitable at day 6.

Part 2 Measurements of Biodiversity, Field Methods, Soil Testing 

To do the next part of our lab the kids and I went for a drive. We drove out of Hurricane towards Colorado City. We were about 3 miles outside of town and picked a spot on the side of the road. I wanted to pick an area that has remained untouched for the most part by humans. We weren't close to any trails, shooting range or homes in the area.  My girls picked this spot because although it was only 8:30 in the morning it was hot, hot, hot and this little shrub gave us a little shade to work in.

One view of our grid. The blue painter's taped worked great.

Surprisingly we ran out of painters tape and had to use the rope I brought for "just in case". 
Glad I had it, we only had to use it for 2 of our lengths. 

Brayden and Kylie stepping on the corner rock holding it in place. 

Before we left the house I had Emily and Madelyn write the numbers 1-16 for me on pieces of paper. They crumbled them and put them in a hat.

When we were finally ready to select our random squares each kid one at a time pulled out a number. Having four of my kids present made everything fair. They each got to pick 2 numbers. Life's all about being fair at our house right now, especially with the 8 year old. I didn't take pictures picking our random numbers because I seriously thought we were melting!

 The grid above shows our random samplings. To give you an idea we were standing to the left of the shrub in my 1st posted picture of our area when we assigned numbers to each square. So squares 11,12,15 and 16 were in the shade! The big shrub was in square 11.  

Here's my quick sketch we made showing the different plant life we found. I tried to draw the plants accurately to where they were in the grid. We also saw lots of holes in the ground. My 6 year old was a bit disappointed that a King Cobra didn't come slithering out to greet us. I on the other hand was very thankful!

One thing we noticed is that there were more plants the closer we got to square 11 with that big shrub. There were also more live plants that were in the shade this morning then to the side of the shrub where there would be very little or no shade during the day. What few plants were on that side were mostly dead. Having stated that, the majority of the live plants were on the opposite side of the shrub from where we were trying to stay. Come afternoon and evening (the longer part of the day) the shade would have been on that opposite side of the shrub. The shade would provide some shelter from the sun for all those green plants.   

Table 1

a. This exercise did not require random sampling to chose your site. State how you chose your site, and explain any biases you discovered in yourself while doing so.

I chose my site because it was quite a bit away from any human habitats. There weren't any shoe prints in the ground around, no trash or litter, no houses and no noticed trails near by. The big shrub also provided some shade to work in. I used the shade to draw my grid and make my notes. My only biases that I noticed was wanting to stay in the shade as much as possible. When needed I did stand in the sun to draw as accurately as possible where the plants were in each square. I did not want to have to go back. 

b. Describe the differences in the number of species using each method. Which one seems to "capture" the scene the best? Remember we are not trying to get the most but a representative sample.

Having chose to do this experiment on the side of the road in the desert I tried to pick a spot that had the most species. Although I tried there still didn't seem to be a numerous amount of diversity. I think the exponential growth would best describe the small long green, vine like plants with red roots. There were some areas with very few of these while others had a lot. I'm guessing that they reproduce quickly instead of at a steady pace. 

c. Discuss what you would change for either method to determine a more accurate species count?

I don't know what I would change without getting more information. I would like to know how long the germination process, life expectancy and needed nutrients for growth for the species I did find. I think with this kind of information the correct method to determine a more accurate species count would be chosen.

Part 3. Soil Testing  

1.What is soil?
Soil is the top layer of earth that plants grow from.

2. What nutrient (chemical cycles) are related to soil formation? Give two examples.
Acid rain is one chemical cylce that is related to soil formation. The acid helps break down the rock. The smaller pieces mix in with the top soil altering the current formation and making new. 

3. How do you know what soil is best for what plants?
Before planting a person should do some research about what kind of soil is best for what they are wanting to plant. We can do this online, out of a gardening book or talking to someone at their local nursery.  

4. What would the world be like if there was no soil?
If we didn't have soil we wouldn't have plants. Plants release oxygen. Without oxygen other organisms including us would not be able to breathe. There would be no life with out soil.

5. Why is soil important?
Soil is important for living organisms to grow and receive/use oxygen.

6. Why do you think it is important to test soil for pH, N, P and K? In other words, what is the role each of these elements in plant growth or health? 

The pH tells us the acidity in the soil. If there is not enough pH the plants won't be able to utilize the fertilizers we mix into the soil for their benefit.

Plants need Nitrate which make the proteins in the soil that helps plants to grow. Nitrate is found in our compost, manure and previous crops that still might be around in the soil.

Phosphorus is another nutrient that plants need to grow. It has generally been added to fertilizers that we would by and add to our gardens or other topsoil. 

K represents potassium. Potassium is also a much needed nutrient for plant growth. A lack of potassium may affect the size, color and taste of the plant growing.   

If we don't test our soil before we plant we may be disappointed in our outcome. It's best to test our soil before all our hard work and money we put into tending to a garden that may not grow or produce sickly plants.  

7. How is soil type related to biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the variety of living things we find in a particular habitat, like a garden. Depending on the soil will depend on what kind of biodiversity we may find. 

8. How does soil type relate to biomes?
A biome is a place such as forests, grasslands or deserts. Each of these biomes have specific life that live there. Every biome would have it's own specific soil allowing plants to grow. For instance a cactus would not be found in the amazon but would be found in a desert biome that has all the nutrients and living condition's for a cactus to survive. 

9. Name 3 factors that might cause soil type to change over time in short term (days to hundred of years) or long (geologic) term.
A. Soil nearby a factory can be "polluted" by the chemicals that are being released. 
B. Grazing cattle can change the soil by how much grass/feed is eaten and the natural fertilizer being added to it.  
C. Weed killer's can also change the soil. It can kill unwanted weeds but it's chemicals can remain in the soil. 

While the kids and I were about this morning we collected 2 samples of dirt. The first came from our desert grid.

Afterward we swung by our garden spot. Our garden didn't do as well as it has in the past. There are several variables that may have caused it. I personally think it was partly our seeds. We bought seeds from Logan, Ut last year to plant in Alton last summer because of it's similar climate. Not thinking we used our left over seeds this year. In Alton the hottest it ever gets is in August and it hits about 95 degrees for a week. It's usually about 85 degrees throughout the summer.  Here in Hurricane this summer in mid June we are well over 100 degrees. This week we hit 111. It's hot! With this kind of heat the garden would need a lot of water. My parents go out 3 times a week and spray the hose over everything. In previous years we set up soaker hoses and let them run several hours watering everything at once. Chances are this little garden wasn't getting enough water. 

I was anxious to see what our dirt samples would tell us. 

What does these little plastic boxes mean?
Maybe a little too much nitrate on the garden but everything else looks fine.

Table 2

And the desert? Well it could use a little help in the phosphorus and potassium. I was surprised to see it had a surplus of nitrate just like our garden.


  1. This is so fun to read and you collected lots of great data, too. A staying in the shade bias is certainly understandable! I really like your sketches and the way you named your plants. That seemed to work well without having to use scientific names.It looks like you have some young scientists there :-)

  2. Oh and great that you identified the need for nitrate to make proteins! We learned about phosphate from the Earth From Space program. It turns out to be a relatively rare nutrient unless you are in the Sahara Desert or the Amazon Rain Forest.