Authentic Project Idea – Fall Foliage

IMG_fallleaves

I woke up this morning to some really beautiful red leaves in our neighborhood.  While out and about, people were commenting on how gorgeous the leaves finally were.  I had been aware that this fall we had not had the usual amount of gorgeous leaves, but really had not paid much attention to why.  My knowledge of fall foliage is basically that the weather gets colder, the leaves change colors, and then they fall of the trees.

Listening to those around me discuss the late arrival of the fall colors this year, most people were talking about the amount of rain we had this past summer and how that delayed the fall colors.  We had had a very wet summer – ok that is an understatement.  We had a “build an ark and get ready for the flood” summer.  Every day.  It rained.  Poured.  I have never ended a summer so pale!

So, was all the rain what delayed the fall colors?  What causes leaves to change colors?  Why are some red, some yellow, some orange…?  I can think of authentic projects from the PreK level (collecting leaves, labeling colors, identifying tree type) to the high school level (scientific explanations for all of my above questions).

This could lead to authentic projects about evergreen versus deciduous trees, the arctic tree line, tree disease…  There are endless possibilities as to where this authentic project could lead based on student interest and discourse (as is the case with all authentic projects)!

Signing off now….wait…what about understanding how scientists predict when the peak of fall colors will be every year.  Planning a trip to see fall colors.  Where should I go?  When?  What hotels should I stay in?  What is my budget for this trip?

OK…really ending this blog entry now…Hmm…How do those jewelers make those gorgeous pendants of leaves dipped in gold?…Why do the leaves turn colors on the trees at the bottom of our local mountains, before the top trees turn?  Isn’t it colder at the top of the mountain?  Don’t the trees in colder temperatures lose their leaves first?

If it is real and authentic, the project possibilities are endless!

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