For a complete introduction and to get to know each Fuddlebrook story/concept, work your way across the main menu bar above. Have fun exploring, and please contact us with any questions you may have!
But that's not all. Check out the introductory video that explains why we created the Fuddlebrook School Science Series.
Identify different parts of a leaf and make beautiful fall artwork, too, in this fun activity.
The importance of clean water can’t be overstated! One child dies every single minute from a diarrheal disease caused by contaminated water and poor sanitation.
This year we move from summer to fall, Saturday, September 22. And while, in our part of the world, it will probably take a few more weeks after the official start of the season for it to look and feel like autumn, we will eventually be rewarded with a spectacular show of fall color. But wait, maybe not. Why does this fall pageantry vary from year to year and tree to tree?
And, did you know yellow and orange colors have actually been there throughout the spring and summer, but we haven’t been able to see them? The deep green color of chlorophyll, which helps plants absorb life-giving sunlight, hides the other colors. In the fall, trees break down the green pigments and nutrients stored in the leaves. The nutrients are shuttled into the roots for reuse in the spring. As the leaves lose their chlorophyll, those other pigments become visible to the human eye. Some tree leaves will eventually turn mostly brown, indicating that all pigments are gone.
Burgundy and red colors are a different story. Says Dana A. Dudle, a DePauw professor of biology who researches red pigment in plant flowers, stems, and leaves,“The red color is actively made in leaves by bright light and cold. The crisp, cold nights in the fall combine with bright, sunny days to spur production of red in leaves – especially in sugar maple and red maple trees. Burgundy leaves often result from a combination of red pigment and chlorophyll. Autumn seasons with a lot of sunny days and cold nights will have the brightest colors.” And in some cases, about half of a tree’s leaves are red/orange and the other half green. Dudle says that results from environmental factors – such as only half the tree being exposed to sunlight or cold.
Climate isn’t the only factor though that impacts color. Some trees just naturally put on a better color show than others. Hardwoods in the Midwest and on the East Coast are famous for good color selections. Some of the more reliably colorful trees include Sugar and Red Maples, Sassafras, Aspen, Sweet Gum, Sourwood, and Black Tupelo, according to the Arbor Day Foundation.
So what is the colors’ purpose? Scientists think that with some trees, pigments serve as a kind of sunscreen to filter out sunlight. It may surprise you to know that plants, like humans, can’t take an infinite amount of Sun. Some leaves, if they get too much Sun, will get a “sunburn.”
Another theory is that the color of a plant’s leaves is often related to the ability to warn away pests or attract insect pollinators. One of the more intriguing scientific theories is that the beautiful leaf colors we see today are indicative of a relationship between a plant and insects that developed millions of years ago. However, as the Earth’s climate changed over the years, the insects might have gone extinct, but the plant was able to survive for whatever reason. Because the plants evolve very slowly, we still see the colors. So leaf color is a fossil memory, something that existed for a reason years ago but that serves no purpose now.
Whatever the reason for the change of color in the fall, take some time to enjoy it! Also read the Fuddlebrook stories, A Change of Season and Liza’s Liza’s Colorful Tale, where she takes in the glorious colors of the season, to learn more about the science of color. After you’ve finished reading, go on a nature walk to collect leaves from different trees and bushes. Watch our video as we identify different parts of a leaf and make beautiful fall artwork, too, in our activity, "Liza’s Leaf Rubbings.”
Turning on a faucet and getting clean, treated water seems like a mundane activity. Most people in the U.S. and other first world countries take for granted how much effort and skill is required to produce drinking water. But without treated water, there is no coffee, showers, laundry, or toilets as we know them.
National Water Quality Month in August reminds us that it takes much more than just turning on the tap to guarantee clean, potable water. It seems only appropriate to feature the Fuddlebrook story, It’s Only Water, where Mrs. Wigglebum’s students and Herman Tweed learn the importance of water and water conservation. Read the story and watch our video of Bert’s Clean Water Filter.
The average person uses approximately 80 gallons of water or more per day. The water we use includes bathing, cleaning, household waste, and drinking water. Depending on where we live, the amount of water, usage, and treatment facilities available vary. Around the world, these variables change greatly. In some villages, drinkable water is scarce and indoor plumbing does not exist. In fact, in just one day, it is estimated that more than 152 million hours of women and girl’s time is spent collecting water for domestic use.
Those who are fortunate enough to be able to get clean water from our tap as often as we like take it for granted. But those who have to work so hard to get to village wells (if even that) know how important water is to every aspect of life. People cannot survive without clean water, and neither can ecosystems. Water is crucial for the survival of humans and the planet.
It goes far beyond mere drinking water. Water “is vital for reducing the global burden of disease and improving the health, welfare, and productivity of populations,” according to the UN.
Here are some statistics:
What can we do? Reducing pollution, eliminating dumping, minimizing the release of hazardous chemicals and materials, and increasing recycling are important. Increasing water-use efficiency is key, too. Estimates vary, but each person uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day. Are you surprised that the largest use of household water is to flush the toilet, and after that, to take showers and baths? Simply reducing shower time or turning off the faucet while brushing our teeth or shaving makes a big difference!
But that’s not all. Protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers, and lakes are vitally important as well. Check out this month’s video on our Quirkles site, Underwater Utley’s Oil Spill Investigation to learn some sobering facts about the impact of oil spills on marine life.
Ultimately, ensuring clean water takes the collaboration of governments, businesses, communities, and individuals. Now more than ever, water is an issue we should all care about!
This new series marvelously succeeds in introducing young students to inquiry-based, experiential learning of scientific concepts that are age-appropriate. Moreover, students have the opportunity to explore story-based scientific concepts further through hands-on investigations.
--Teresa, Biology Ph.D; former elementary teacher, Springfield, MO
The thing I love most about the Fuddlebrook series is the connection aspect. Not only have the creators connected literacy and science, they have also provided opportunity for exploration of all areas of life. The dispositions and traits of the characters are consistent throughout the books and lead to discussions about friendship, bullying, loyalty, honesty, and humility. Fuddlebrook is "teaching the whole child by connecting to life."
--Carolyn, First Grade Teacher, Ozark, MO