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Our Wisconsin charter school uses scientific research and project-based learning as the focus of our curriculum. Project learning is based on a constructivist model of learning that engages you in real-world scholarly activity because you get to chose topics that interest you.
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Water Bears (...Oh My!)

Posted on March 5, 2012 by Leo P.,7th Grade

When Nate came to me and asked if I was interested in doing a project on Water Bears, I said "YES!" Water Bears are a type of Tardigrad, which is a tiny, slow moving animal with four body segments and eight legs. Nate saw a really cool documentary on Water Bears, and that's how I found myself sprinting down to the Deinhammer creek on Friday the 11th.

Water BearDown at Deinhammer creek, we collected lichen from dead trees (mainly Oak) in Petri dishes and brought them to the citizens' science center to leave over night so that the water bears could come out of there cryptobiotic state . (The cryptobiotic state is were the water bears go into a sleeping state in which they are without water).

When we returned on Monday, we examined the Petri dishes under microscopes to look for water bears that had come out of their shelters in the lichen to go investigate their surroundings. We transferred these active Water Bears onto slides which we looked at under more powerful microscopes. At this point the Water Bears looked like stubby, wrinkly worms with claws. We added water to the Petri dish and set them back on the window sill until we could search for more Water Bears at our next project time.

When we have enough of them we will test some of the theories regarding their superman-like abilities such as surviving weather as cold as -200 degrees Fahrenheit. This project is still going on and we are almost ready for testing. See you next time!


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In the winter of 2011, Wildlands Charter School students began producing news stories for our website and an electronic email newsletter.

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