First, we made observations about the tree we believe it dropped from. We took photos, drew sketches, made rubbings of leaves and bark, and gathered seeds, leaves, and stems.
Then we found a kid-friendly dichotomous key from Wisconsin DNR page “Environmental Education for Kids” (aka EEK!) It was very simple, and within five minutes we all agreed it must be a basswood. A little further checking on Wikipedia, and we were sure. The basswood is also called linden (thanks, Joey!) in North America, and it is part of the genus Tilia.
Next we are going to find out about the fungus. What kind is it exactly? Was it growing on that basswood tree? Does it harm the host? We may find answers in a book or a dichotomous key or by asking Anna’s dad. However, if we exhaust our classroom resources, we will find answers another way.
We have had the Internet for a long time, but as of today, we also have a Twitter account at @KrebsClass, so we can find help from scientists at universities, high school botany teachers, others interested in fungus, and maybe even a visitor to our blog.
Yes, I am so excited my students and I belong to a global classroom with flattened walls.