Did you know that you can use more water on your lawn and garden in the summer than you use for all other purposes all year long? If you have an automated sprinkler system for your lawn and/or garden, this project could save money on your family's monthly water bill. You'll also be helping to conserve a precious natural resource: clean water.
Do your parents like to garden? Then you might have a beautiful lawn surrounded by flowers, or a vegetable garden. Humans have been introducing plants to our landscapes for centuries, which has dramatically altered the natural habitat of many environments. Chances are, the landscape you live in is not a natural landscape. One movement is to restore these habitats by re-introducing native plants. Conduct a survey in your area looking for native and non-native plant species. You can take…
When pesticides are applied to protect crops, run-off of potentially harmful pesticides is a major problem. Can water plants such as hardstem bulrush, common cattail, parrotfeather and smooth scouring rush promote pesticide breakdown? If so, diversion of irrigation run-off into plant-filled ponds could help reduce pesticide pollution. Mix malathion at 12.5% of the recommended application strength (to simulate dilution by rain or irrigation water). Use 5-gallon buckets for testing various…
No one can deny the devastating consequences of an oil spill on the local wildlife. Oil affects all levels of the ecosystem, from plants to fish and birds. What happens to water plants if you add motor oil to their pot? What is the effect of motor oil on the health of a goldfish, or water insects? What happens to the barbs of a bird feather if they are dipped in oil? Can you test different types of environmentally-friendly detergents for cleaning the bird feathers? Can you test different…
Some plants grow only in water-logged environments. These plants are usually native to wetlands and are important for the sustainability of aquatic ecosystems. Wetland ecosystems are very fragile and susceptible to the toxic dumping of sewage and fertilizer run-off from neighboring farm land. One very common aquatic plant called duckweed inhabits many wetland marshes. Duckweed grows by asexual reproduction and floats at the surface of the water with tiny roots extending into the water below.…
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Duckweed can be purchased from plant nurseries, or you can also find it growing naturally in local ponds and marshes. If you find the duckweed in a local water source, make sure you get permission from the land owner or town before taking any.
Some plants use a lot of water, and some are very drought-tolerant. Drought-tolerant grasses are good for water conservation because they require less water to grow and stay green. How much less water do they need? Which types of grass are drought-tolerant? You can buy different types or brands of grass seed at your nursery that claim to be drought-tolerant. Grow them in a container and then starve for water after they are established. Which brands die out first? You can conduct a similar…
What variables contribute to the properties of the soil in an area? Investigate the role of climate, weather, topography, time, parent material, vegetation, and biological and chemical agents on soil formation. How are soils characterized? There are 3 basic particle sizes which create three basic soil types: sand, silt, and clay. Investigate the properties of the three different types of soil by observing grain size, shape, hardness, color, chemical composition, pore space, aeration,…
Visit your local landfill to collect dumping statistics by watching the types of trash people bring to the dump. Identify problem areas and types of waste that are commonly brought to the dump. Propose new uses for common landfill problems like tires, construction materials, plastics, appliances, and computer parts. Measure packaging materials of some common products. Invent ways to reduce the amount of packaging and increase the use of recyclable materials like popcorn or corn-based packing…
How much water do you use? Conserving water can do more than save your parents' money, it can also save freshwater ecosystems, wetlands, and watersheds. Some companies are trying to help fix the problem by making low flow faucets and showerheads. How well do they work? How much water can you save? Go to the hardware store to buy a few of the water saving products. Compare the amount of water that you run over a period of time to determine how much water you can save. Which water saving…
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