Maisy and Daisy Investigate Inclined Planes

Hi! This is Maisy, one of Nancy’s curious science cats reporting again. I just had to tell you a funny science story about my curious counterpart, sister Daisy.

Nancy was working like crazy with some friends on a new science lesson. She kept talking about something called inclined planes. Now we thought they meant planes that fly, so we kept waiting for the paper airplanes to chase. Then we figured out “inclined plane” is just a fancy word for a ramp.

Nancy and her cool friends were having all kinds of fun rolling stuff down those inclined planes. They had toy cars rolling down ramps made out of game boards. You would have thought it was NASCAR races hearing those ladies cheer as their cars went down the ramp. Daisy and I peeked out while we hid under the table. We were really purr-plexed when Nancy got out the saltshaker and salted the inclined plane. They kept talking about something called friction. Not sure what that is but I sure didn’t think that ramp would be very tasty even with salt on it.

Anyway, Nancy and her friends must have got tired playing with their cars because they went upstairs. Daisy and I decided to take a closer look at the inclined planes and cars.

I had trouble keeping my car on the ramp.

Daisy tried salting the cars, but she didn’t think they tasted good salted or plain.

It was time for us to put Nancy’s lesson to use. Daisy said, “Maisy, let’s find and count all the inclined planes in Nancy’s house.” I said, “Let’s go. I bet I can find more than you!” And off we went.

Daisy ran to the bathtub and meowed, “One!” She then slid down the slanted end into the tub.

I ran to the bookshelf because I remembered seeing some books sitting at an angle. “One! Two! Three! Yes!” Daisy was miffed that I had thought of the bookshelf before she did.

Next, Daisy headed to the living room and meowed loudly, “Look, Maisy, the recliner—it has a sloped flat side. That makes two!”

I spotted the desk with the slanted top. I jumped up on the desk and slid down the inclined plane. But don’t tell Nancy. She doesn’t like us up on the furniture. “Yes, yes, that’s four for me. Maisy is winning.” I rubbed up against Daisy, arched my back and puffed up my tail. She really didn’t like that at all.

We were getting tired and all the lights were out so we decided to take a little break. I was ahead of Daisy on the count of inclined planes but I knew she had figured out something and wasn’t telling me.

The next morning I woke up and headed for breakfast. Daisy wasn’t anywhere to be found. Nancy started to get worried and asked everyone to start looking for Daisy. We looked and looked but no Daisy. Then Nancy looked in one of the upstairs bedrooms and saw the window open. “Oh no, she didn’t crawl out the window did she?”

Next thing I know, Nancy and her friends ran outside, looked up and there was Daisy, on the very top of the house.

She was counting “Three, four, five, six, seven, and eight. Wow! Maisy, you wouldn’t believe all the inclined planes I can see from up here on the roof.”

Here’s the photo Nancy took of Daisy. How many inclined planes do you see?  Remember, an inclined plane is a ramp or slanted surface.

Daisy is ahead now, but I’m not quitting. Can you help me find more inclined planes?

Mountains in Alaska
Bridge over Indian Creek near Noel, Missouri
Sedgwick County Museum, Wichita, KS
Antenna near Joplin, Missouri
Road in northwest Arkansas

If you see an inclined plane, take a photo and send it to us. Be sure to tell us where it’s located.

We’ll post it here for other blooming scientists to see.

Until next time, have a purr-fectly wonderful time wandering about and wondering about science.

Maisy

The Gardens at Monticello – Part 2

The flower gardens at Monticello are absolutely amazing and literally buzz with life. Bees of all kinds, butterflies, and moths were busy as (you know…bees).

Mosaic of Garden Photos

And when the work is done, it’s time to leave.

My knowledge and information is admittedly limited and largely based on the stories told by our tour guide. Please visit www.monticello.org to learn more and see the amazing gardens. Look at the page “In Bloom at Monticello” where you’ll find a calendar that you can set for any time of the year and then see all of the flowers that are blooming during that time. It’s a wonderful site to learn more about Jefferson and his home.

Madon

The Gardens at Monticello

When we finished the HEAV conference in Richmond, Virginia, I spent Sunday with my daughter Megan touring Monticello. I learned so many things about Thomas Jefferson. I didn’t realize that when he sent Lewis and Clark to explore and map the Louisiana Purchase territory, he also instructed them to send back examples of plants and animals that aren’t found in the eastern United States. Lewis and Clark carefully bundled plants and saplings and sent them back to Virginia. Jefferson had these planted at Monticello. He also instructed the sailors of the US Navy to send him unusual plants they found in other countries. Many of these plants and trees are still thriving at Monticello.

Jefferson was also a naturalist and studied the natural healing qualities of plants. Many of the trees at Monticello are imports from other countries and were chosen specifically for their therapeutic qualities. Our tour guide told of a delegation from China that was in awe when they saw trees that they consider essential for health and well being. They quickly gathered up the fallen leaves and flowers, which were very expensive in China and had been left on the ground at Monticello. The Chinese delegation quickly told their guides of the plants’ importance and the gardeners helped them gather extra fallen leaves and flowers. I must admit, I don’t remember the names of all these plants. I hope to learn more this winter. If you have the chance to visit Monticello, please take the garden tour. It’s fascinating.

Thomas Jefferson built Monticello on a mountaintop, his little mountain. Before his home could be built, the mountaintop had to be leveled. So while you drive up to Monticello, it’s level once you are there.

Jefferson considered himself foremost a farmer and was very interested in weather changes. He had the weather vane on the roof of the portico connected to a device that allowed him to check the wind direction without leaving the front porch. Here you can see the white weather vane on the roof and the bronze disk under the portico where he could read the directions.

Monticello was a self-sufficient farm, with a garden the length of three football fields. Jefferson ate little meat. His meals were primarily the vegetables, fruits, and herbs grown in his garden. He wanted to preserve plants gathered from other countries and brought by Lewis and Clark. To protect the plants, he placed the garden on the south side and cut down into the mountain. This kept the cold winter winds above the plants.
Monticello was a self-sufficient farm, with a garden the length of three football fields. Jefferson ate little meat. His meals were primarily the vegetables, fruits, and herbs grown in his garden. He wanted to preserve plants gathered from other countries and brought by Lewis and Clark. To protect the plants, he placed the garden on the south side and cut down into the mountain. This kept the cold winter winds above the plants.

You can see how much lower the garden is than the road above.
One of Jefferson’s dreams was to have Virginia wines that compared with those he’d tasted in Europe. He didn’t see this happen during his lifetime. But he created the vineyard and had it cut even lower in the mountainside, along with the fruit orchard.When Jefferson traveled in Europe, he developed a taste for French figs and returned to Monticello determined to grow them. Normally, the figs would freeze during a Virginia winter, especially if planted on a mountaintop. He also had a rock wall built next to the delicate plants. At its highest the wall was twelve feet. The winter sun warmed the rocks and the stored heat warmed the plants at night. Builders refer to this as geo-thermal mass, using rock and solid building materials to store heat from the day and warm the areas at night. Part of the stone wall is visible at the lower left of the photo above.

The Blue Ridge Mountains sure earn their name. The fig trees are visible just beyond the upright pole trellis.

My knowledge and information is admittedly limited and largely based on the stories told by our tour guide. More photos of the gardens are coming. Until then, check out more information on Jefferson’s Monticello at www.monticello.org. It’s a wonderful site to learn more about Jefferson and his home.

Madon