mystery The answer to the clues may be found at the bottom of this column.    Teachers and Parents: Enter to win an entire set of Dawn’s nature books of one title for your home or classroom. It's fun and easy!
Just read the clues below. They describe an aspect of nature—a plant, animal, mineral, habitat, or natural process.
When you're ready to make your guess about who or what I am, click ENTER NOW.
Who Am I?
spacerglass1 Clue 1:  I'm a member of the "dog family."
glass1 Clue 2:  I live throughout North America in deserts, prairies, forests, and even in towns and cities.
glass1 Clue 3:  You might hear me howling at night to communicate with my pack.
glass1 Clue 4:  Don't let me trick you—I am NOT a wolf.
Do you think you know who I am? ENTER NOW.
Entries should be submitted no later than noon on Friday.
If you guessed correctly, you’re automatically entered into the monthly drawing for a set of nature books from Dawn Publications.
A contest winner will be announced at the end of September.
Throughout the school year, clues for a new Who Am I are posted no later than Sunday night, so you can use them with your class on Monday morning.Good luck!
The answer to last week's mystery was: SEASHELLS Although Inside Outside Nature blog is changing it's focus, this weekly "Who Am I?" will remain the same! Teachers, click here to get ideas about how to use the contest with your students.  

Monthly Archives: November 2012


What’s the largest organism in the world? You may be surprised to find out that it’s a grove of Quaking Aspen trees near Fish Lake in south-central Utah.


How can a grove of trees be considered one organism? An amazing thing about aspens is that they don’t need seeds to spread. They send out lateral roots that sprout suckers that shoot up and grow into trees. But these trees are actually stems of a single plant because they’re all connected to the same roots. The Utah grove, consisting of over 40,000 individual trees, is called “Pando,” which in Latin means “I spread.”

Pando is not only the largest organism, it’s also the oldest living thing on earth—genetic testing indicates its roots are over 8,000 years old. And if that wasn’t enough, Pando holds the record for being the heaviest organism on earth too. It weighs approximately 13 million pounds—over 6,000 tons. It would take at least 30 blue whales, the largest animal on earth, to weigh as much as Pando.

Unfortunately, Pando is dying. Drought, bark beetles, and disease are killing the trees. New sprouts aren’t surviving. Scientists are trying to figure out how to keep Pando alive.


The activities below will encourage you and your students to take a closer look at trees and appreciate them.


Inside: Stamp of Approval

U.S. Postage Stamp featuring Pando

In 2006 the United States Postal Service made a stamp in commemoration of  Pando, calling it one of the forty “Wonders of America.”

Quaking Aspens, no matter what the size of their colony, are beautiful trees. They got their name because their leaves appear to “quake” or “quiver” in a breeze. In fall, aspen leaves turn vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and sometimes red. They’re one of my all-time favorite trees!


Have your students choose a tree and write a paragraph highlighting three reasons why that tree is special for them. Using a tree field guide and other references, have students design a stamp of their tree. Make the stamps over-sized by having students fill up an entire sheet of drawing paper with their stamp.


Outside: Bark Rubbings

On a recent hike in the Sierra Nevada I “hugged” an aspen to feel it’s smooth bark. My hands were soon coated in the bark’s white powder. Just look at my hand prints on my black pants!


Another way to get a “feel” of a tree’s trunk is to make bark rubbings. Place a piece a paper firmly against a tree trunk and use a crayon to create a rubbing. You may also want to make a rubbing of one of the tree’s leaves. Be sure to write the name of the tree on the rubbing.

The aspen’s white powder also makes a great face. If you’re lucky enough to live near an aspen grove, swipe your finger across the bark of a tree and decorate your face! And click here to see National Geographic artistic photos of other interesting tree trunks.


More Quaking Aspen Fun and Facts

The Green Art Kids blog describes a simple and beautiful art project inspired by Ansel Adam’s photographs of aspens in New Mexico. All you need is paper, masking tape, and watercolors. Truly lovely!


Find an extensive article about Quaking Aspens at the Nature Education Knowledge Project.


A wonderful nonfiction book written with deep appreciation for aspens is simply called Quaking Aspens by Bonnie Holmes (Nature Watch). “Because they nurture the land and create an environment for other plants and animals to live in, aspen trees are often referred to as “the mothers of the forest.”