The View from the Classroom Window

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Great Sunflower Project

Hi everybody! Just received this email from another homeschooling family and thought it may be of interest here.

Enjoy!

Sarah


Recommended Website:
The Great Sunflower Project

The Great Sunflower Project is on for 2010! Join this nationwide endeavor to help biologists reach their goal of documenting bee pollination in the US and developing strategies to protect and restore native bees where they are threatened. To participate you simply:

  1. Sign up at the website.
  2. Get and plant "Lemon Queen" sunflower seeds.
  3. Once your plants have flowered, count the number of flowers on your plant with pollen.
  4. Use the instructions and data sheets provided at the website to record the number of bees that visit your sunflower over a period of 15 minutes.
  5. Enter your data online at the website.

The parameters have changed slightly for 2010, and the folks at The Great Sunflower Project are in the process of modifying the data entry form on the website to reflect the changes. It isn’t quite finished, however, that shouldn't stop you from getting your seeds in preparation to plant as soon as night temperatures stay above 55 degrees in the area where you live.

Last year, The Great Sunflower Project distributed free Lemon Queen sunflower seeds. Due to increased costs, they are asking people to get their own Lemon Queen sunflower seeds at a local nursery or store, or pay $3.00 (covers padded mailers and shipping) to order them directly from The Great Sunflower project.

That said, you can still get FREE SEEDS for children in kids' programs and school groups who participate in the project. I contacted the "Queen Bee" (who goes by the name of Gretchen LeBuhn) and asked if homeschoolers qualify for free seeds. She wrote:

I love having homeschooling families participate. The real issue is the cost of mailing. So, if they can group together [i.e., request on behalf of a homeschool support group], I'd be happy to send free seeds. Individual homeschool families can also send a business sized, self-addressed, stamped envelope (with first class postage stamp on it) to:

Gretchen LeBuhn
The Great Sunflower
Department of Biology
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132

Include a note that explains you are a homeschooler who wants to participate in The Great Sunflower Project, and Gretchen will put seeds in the envelope and mail it back to you. You STILL have to sign up to participate online at the website, where you'll also find instructions for planting the seeds and caring for your sunflowers.

You'll also receive the free eNewsletter with updates on what the researchers are learning about bees.

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