Oat math, Seedfolks, hanging gutter planters, and NaNoWriMo.
The Yellow Band has been busy exploring seeds.
We began our days exploring the math concepts of estimation, averages, and time by way of Gever’s oat seed. The task: find out how many oat seeds need to be peeled for one cup of oats and how long will it take. Estimates on how many oat seeds make up one cup ranged anywhere from 3,622 to 5,500. Recognizing that it would take them many hours to count that amount of seeds, they decided upon each counting how many they had in a tablespoon, taking an average of each band member’s quantity, and multiplying that by the 16 tablespoons it takes to make up a cup. Strategies for counting possibly hundreds of seeds popped up quickly. Soon enough everyone was grouping their seeds in groups of either fives or tens. After counting and taking an average, we found that a cup would have approximately 3,680 oat seeds in it. It’s pretty amazing to think that one of the estimates was only 58 seeds away!
After our work around the quantities of seeds we began to look at it in terms of time required to peel the oat seeds. Estimates to peel one cup of oats ranged from one and a half hours to five hours. We brainstormed strategies for figuring this out without having to actually peel 3,680 oats. We also realized that the rate at which we could peel the oats might fluctuate over time due to improving our skills (faster) or tiredness (slower). We decided to time our peeling for two different quantities: 10 oats and 20 oats. We found that when we peeled 20 oats we did improve our time ever so slightly, so we decided to take the average of our total time for both quantities. We quickly found that we were way off with our estimates. According to our work, it would take around 15 hours 38 minutes and 24 seconds to peel all those oats. More than three times our longest estimated time!
One afternoon we took a walk over to the Potrero Hill Community Garden with the Green Band. After exploring the gardens for a bit, we gathered together to begin reading the book Seedfolks. Each chapter covers a story about each of the characters contributing to a community garden in Cleveland. We talked about the themes of change and community that wove throughout the stories. We found ourselves embodying those themes when we helped the garden coordinator with some clean up and by bringing in the compost bins. She kindly thanked us by sharing some of her lemon verbena that we dried and made tea with the following morning.
Wanting to take a closer look at the process of germination, we created a seed jar. We chose a variety of seeds, including pumpkin, forget-me-not, beet, California poppy, carrot, squash, and cornflower. We talked about what might sprout first, shoots or roots, the majority said shoots, and took guesses as to which seed might germinate first. After three days our first seed germinated. It was the cornflower and it was the roots that sprouted first. The poppy seeds weren’t far behind in germinating and by the end of the week, the only seeds that showed no sign of germination were those of the forget-me-nots. The roots of a number of them had also buried their way into the paper towel they were growing on.
Looking to grow more plants in our band space, we decided to take advantage of our vertical space and created a hanging window planter out of rain gutters. We had to take measurements of the window, draw out our plans, cut down our gutters, plan our plantings, find a way to hang it, drill holes for drainage, fill them with soil, and plant our seeds. Hopefully in a few weeks we will have everything from lettuce to poppies growing in our space.