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SCIENCE SPOTLIGHT

Are kids today allowed enough freedom to roam from home and explore outdoors? This month we focus on children and nature - and the benefits of getting out of cyberspace and into some outdoor space…except, of course, during Superstorm Sandy.

  • Watch A Real Fish Story to see how 13-year-old Tavish and other volunteers in Bowmanville, Ontario lifted 5,540 fish over Bowmanville Creek dam last summer so they could spawn upstream…the fish, not the volunteers.
  • If wrestling with a 20 kg salmon is way too much nature for you, how about a little indoor gardening? This month's Science in Action shows you how to build your own bottle garden step by step. To get started, all you have to do is empty a large bottle of pop! Burp…
  • And don't miss the science news stories and interesting connections our researchers have been highlighting in the HotZone area of the Weston Family Innovation Centre.

Science in Action

Split image: upper half is plant with red flowers growing out of plastic bottle filled with soil. Lower half is a collection of items required to build your own bottle garden

Create your own bottle garden!

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Here's a really green way to recycle old pop bottles and get closer to nature! You can create just one bottle planter, or hook several together to form a hanging garden like the one we had this summer in the KidSpark children's museum at the Ontario Science Centre. Depending on the climate where you live and the plants you choose, you can hang your bottle garden indoors or out.

What you'll need:

  • Clean, empty 2-litre plastic pop bottle
  • Metal finishing nail or skewer
  • Barbecue lighter
  • Scissors or box cutter
  • Clothesline rope, twine, wire or string
  • Two #6 washers, or beads
  • Drainage pebbles or gravel
  • Potting soil
  • Hooks (S, ceiling or cup)
  • Seeds or plants
Split image: upper half  hand holding bottles with drawn arrows showing rotation. Lower half demonstrates cutting rectangle shape from bottle with knife

Prepare the container:

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  • Empty and rinse a large plastic pop bottle, cap it and lie it on its side.
  • Carefully heat the tip of a nail with the barbecue lighter (have an adult do or supervise this step).
  • Poke two small holes at each end of the bottle with the hot nail tip.
  • Cut a rectangular opening at the top of the bottle on the same plane as the holes at each end.
Split image: top half shows two hangers, bottom half shows bottle with cut side facing up and hangers attached to either end

Make the hanger:

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  • Cut two, 60-cm pieces of rope, twine or string. If the ends fray, bind them with tape.
  • Tie a loop at one end of both pieces of rope. Make sure the loop's knot is bigger than the hole in the washer.
  • Slide the washer down to the knotted end of the rope.
  • Thread the ropes through the bottom and top holes on each side of the bottle.
Split image: top half shows soil being poured into bottle using a cup, bottom half shows plant being placed into soil in bottle

Plant the garden:

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  • Add pebbles to the bottom of the bottle for drainage. Then fill with potting soil.
  • Planting time! Choose seeds or young plants, herbs or flowers and set them in the soil. Water them carefully - there may be drips from the holes in the bottle.
Several bottle planters hanging in columns on a wall

Hang your garden:

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  • Knot a loop at the other end of both ropes so the bottle is horizontally level. Hang the bottle near a window using ceiling or cup hooks or “S” hooks.
  • Create a green “ladder” by hooking a series of bottle gardens together!

Download instructions for the bottle garden.

 

From the Headlines

Boy walking down a dirt road with text caption which reads: Research reveals that the outdoor roaming territory of eight year olds is steadily shinking with each successive generation of a typical North American family. How free range are your kids or siblings?
Free-range kids a disappearing breed…

How far were you allowed to roam from home? Surveys show that roaming distances of children have decreased over the last four generations. They find that kids today walk much less and have less independence, which could affect their future wellbeing and mental health. Listen to nature expert Richard Louv discuss this "nature deficit disorder".

Satellite images of two cities iwth text caption which reads: Declaration on connection people with nature passed at the World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Republic of Korea this fall to increase access to green space for children worldwide.
Growing green space for kids…

Studies show that getting kids outdoors makes them happier, healthier and even smarter. The 2012 World Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in Jeju, South Korea recently endorsed a child's right to nature with a number of approved declarations and actions.

Satellite image of currican over US Eastern seaboard with caption which reads: Hurricane Sandy battered the mid-Atlantic region, it's powerful gusts and storm sugres cuasing once-in-a-lifetime flooding along the coast.
Sandy strikes U.S. east coast

Nature has many benefits…but hurricanes are not one of them! Superstorm Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, as well as the second costliest Atlantic hurricane in history after 2005's Hurricane Katrina. Check out these images of its trail of devastation after landfall in New Jersey and New York on October 29th. The UN sees the superstorm as a wakeup call for global action dealing with climate change.

 

Zebra links to kids acstivity that explores camouflage.

Find the hidden creatures in this fun kid's activity that explores camouflage.

Child peeking out from behind a tree links to Richard Louv video discussing 'nature deficit disorder' and its effect on children.

Watch author Richard Louv discuss "nature deficit disorder" and its effect on children.

Purple flower and RGB logo links to Ask the experts at Royal Botanical Gardens about the best plants for hanging gardens.

Ask the experts at Royal Botanical Gardens about the best plants for hanging gardens.

Eye of hurrican links to track hurricanes online through Environment Canada's Weather Office.

Track hurricanes online through Environment Canada's Weather Office.


Drawing of salmon links to learn more about the construction of the Bowmanville, Ontario fish ladder.

Learn more about the construction of the Bowmanville, Ontario fish ladder.

Black and white photo of houses submurged in rivier links to find out more about Hurricane Hazel, one of Canada's most devastating storms.

Find out more about Hurricane Hazel, one of Canada's most devastating storms.

Sastellite above earth links to view fascinating 3D images of Hurricane Sandy by NASA's CloudSat spacecraft.

View fascinating 3D images of Hurricane Sandy by NASA's CloudSat spacecraft.

David Suzuki links to download the David Suzuki Foundation's guide to connecting kids with nature.

Download the David Suzuki Foundation's guide to connecting kids with nature.