Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Overall, the sap was sweet but didn't flow all that much

 Joshua Rapp

Harvard Forest Post-Doctoral Researcher 

Sugar maples are economically important in the northeastern U.S. and adjacent Canada because of maple syrup production, and concerns exist about the viability of maple populations and the maple syrup industry under a warming climate. I am collecting long term records on sap flow and sap sugar content from across New England to understand if these records reflect the resource status of trees and whether this is correlated with variation in seed production across years. This regional study is complemented by detailed observations of sap production, flower and seed production, and pollinator populations at the Harvard Forest to investigate how stored resources and pollination limitation influence masting in sugar maple.

*Excerpt from Harvard Forest researcher profile at:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Reading the Forested Landscape
with Tom Wessels

May 8th, 6 PM
Greenfield Community College Dining Commons
Free and open to all.

The fascinating history of the forests of western Massachusetts is on display for all to see if you know where to look. If you want to learn how to look a little closer, join Tom Wessels for a talk about how to decipher the evidence etched into our forested landscape to unravel its complex stories on Thursday, May 8th, at Greenfield Community College.  Using evidence such as the shapes of trees, scars on their trunks, the pattern of decay in stumps, the construction of stone walls, and the lay of the land, Tom will teach you how to piece together the stories and history of our local forests. This program is based on Tom’s book, “Reading the Forested Landscape, A Natural History of New England”, which teaches us to read a landscape the way we might solve a mystery.
This special opportunity is sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Forest Stewardship Program and the Massachusetts Woodlands Institute to help people learn more about the land use history of their woods.
Tom Wessels is an ecologist and founding director of the master’s degree program in Conservation Biology at Antioch University New England. Presently, he is Faculty Emeritus. Tom has conducted landscape ecology and sustainability workshops throughout the United States for over 30 years. His books include: Reading the Forested Landscape, The Granite Landscape, Untamed Vermont, The Myth of Progress, and Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested Landscape.

No walk in the woods will be the same after listening to Tom Wessels’ Reading the Forested Landscape talk.

For more information or directions, contact Wendy Ferris at 413.625.9151 or

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Museum Institute for Teaching Science (MITS)   Middle School and High School Teachers at Harvard Forest 

     DSCN2001           DSCN2093

 Ecologist John O'Keefe and Schoolyard Coordinator Pamela Snow engaged the group in budburst activities and a field walk...See more at:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spring Workshop for Teachers-2014


  Spring Workshop

Sights and Insights 

  • Being able to hear from other teachers about what is working for them and what they plan on doing in the future - Thank you to JoAnn Mossman for all her ideas and help!!

 More comments about teacher presentations:

  • Vernal pool walk and Jud's presentation Both great
  • I was impressed by the High School field guide that was shown. I'm planning to follow the idea and do something for the younger students.
  • Teachers sharing how they do things in the classroom and outdoors is sooo helpful and encouraging.
  • Hearing all the other teachers and their approaches to similar problems was really useful.
  • I also find the presentations are a super way to learn from experienced teachers. I wish I could have heard every presentation
  • Teacher presentations are great. You learn so much from all levels. The idea sharing is great.
  • By seeing how others tackle similar tasks gives me ideas to try and expand upon.

Comments about field walk with Project Ecologists:

    Photo by Karen Murphy
  • I especially appreciated being able to spend time in the field with Dr. Orwig and a small number of like-minded HWA fans. I got a lot of details cleared up about the protocol and was able to discuss research questions concerning possible ways to combat these bugs. I also found a new way to document our findings on the egg sacs

                    Photo by Clarisse Hart
     The forest walk was excellent. Such a great opportunity to view the forest site and have an opportunity to speak and share with everyone

  • I always appreciate time with Betsy! This time we also got to spend time in the lab with her looking at invertebrates under the microscope. this was very interesting and it would be most useful to have the opportunity to spend longer doing this in the future. In addition I also very much enjoyed hearing from teachers doing the other ecology projects. I would love at some point to be able to do some of these or take bits to use with my students

Photo by Maryanne Rotelli
  • Always the session with Dr. O'keefe- new information in the ppt presentation and great to walk outdoors with him. Teachers sharing how they do things in the classroom and outdoors is sooo helpful and encouraging.
  • John's explanations on what to look for when collecting information on the bud burst was wonderful, especially since it is the first time doing it.
  • Dr. O;Keefe's explanation of how trees and forests impact water flow and cloud cover- a great bigger picture!

Suggestions Anyone?

  •  more time with Betsy and her specimens. Also visiting other vernal pools with her. She spoke of some really good ones in Leominster. Maybe it would be possible to organize a trip there with her so we can see different types of pools including ones with fairy shrimps.
  • Give each presenter a set amount of time that includes Q + A.
  • It would be great to have a workshop on pond creature ID.
  • Time is always an issue, but trying not to overlap presentations would be the only improvement. It's hard!
  • My colleagues may not like this suggestion, but I'd love to do a workshop during April break ... so that I don't have to miss school (which is always 120% as much work as being there)
  •  maybe a little longer lunch time to informally connect with teachers, but not a great deal longer. I do not want to lose the other parts either!
  • Keep the teacher presentations, maybe add some specific meeting time for each group to chat quickly.
  • I know the weather is a challenge but I was hoping to do more outside but appreciate that we got so much information from one tree.
  • Perhaps a trouble-shooting session where veteran and new teachers exchange concerns, offer practical advice, etc. outside of the formal presentations.
  • Add another time for VP to look at critters under the microscope
  • Possibly separating the teacher presentations but all were very interesting even if it was not about our section

What will teachers bring with them back to their Schools?

  • I can now clearly find and identify the scale insects and talk about their relevance to the HWA's and pretty generally discuss just about everything involving the life cycle o these creatures.
I am looking forward to trying out my idea of using the student cell phone in order to easily document the egg sac hunt and then to count them by marking their presence on the photo of the branch.
  • I have some samples of lesson plans I may adapt for my classes and more resources. I have more background knowledge on vernal pools which will be helpful in answering student questions and designing lessons. I also got useful feedback for my question for my presentation about incorporating the Next generation science standards
  • We are already incorporating our vernal pool studies into our pond ecology programs but I am looking forward to including the Changing Forest and including the effects of farming on our water.
  • Joann and Jane's and John's pointers have given me confidence to move forward with this project.
  • Need to get those kids in the woods!

Want to see and hear more?

Here is the link to all the presentations' slides and audio per Clarisse Hart:

Watch and listen to them all at once or you can easily navigate to individual talks within this one file. Once the program loads, look on the left hand side of the page and click the little triangle next to “Lobby.” You’ll get a drop down menu of all the individual talks, and clicking one will take you directly to that talk.

We now have the individual talks split out as individual PDF files at:  
Look for them by project theme, teacher name and year. 


HF Schoolyard at NSTA Boston Conference

Schoolyard Teachers Presented at the National Science Teachers Association Conference in Boston this Weekend

JR Briggs Elementary Teacher, Kate Bennett shared her experience with The Woolly Bully, Buds and Leaves and the Phenocam projects with teachers at NSTA