Today's Snack: How about an Edible Aquarium? Dissolve one 3-oz. package
of berry blue Jell-O in ¾ cup of boiling water. Separately, combine ½ cup cold
water with enough ice cubes to make 1¼ cups ice water. Add the water to the
Jell-O, stirring until slightly thickened. Pour Jell-O into four clear glass
dessert dishes or small glass bowls. Place colorful gummy fish in Jell-O.
Refrigerate for one hour before serving.
School Treats notebook and pen or pencil
(purchase from a bath boutique or borrow one?)
You might think they're
part of the underwater rocks. You might think they're an underwater plant. But
nooooo! Even though they are more like rocks or plants because they don't move
very much, sponges are animals. And if you thought Sponge Bob was "unique," you
ought to see all the amazing variety in the colors, shapes and sizes of this
plentiful form of life:
There may be as many as
10,000 different species of the sponge, almost all in saltwater oceans and
seas, but about 150 known species in freshwater settings. While the sponge
might appear to be a very simple animal, actually there's a lot going on:
have two layers to their outer body that are connected by a layer of gel;
inside each major structure of a sponge's body, most species have an inner
cavity that water flows through
have thousands of pores on their bodies that water flows through to
provide them with food and oxygen. Tiny particles of organic matter are
removed from the water by the sponge as nourishment. This is called filter feeding.
sponge gets rid of the water after it extracts nourishment and oxygen
through a large pore called an osculum,
which means "door" in Latin.
eat tiny organic particles that float through the water into and out of
their bodies, extracting nutrition from them as well as oxygen from the
water, even though they don't have a bloodstream or any muscles, tissues
on their outer surface to protect them from fish or other predators
cells, like miniature whips, that move around and push water through the
on the outside of the body, which are cells to help the sponge maintain
its shape and prevent it from collapsing; they make a sponge feel kind of
gritty when touched.
though they don't have brains, eyes and ears, if you touch many species of
sponges, they will verrrrrrrry slowly "cringe," or pull back. This is
thought to be some kind of a chemical reaction to stimuli, but scientists
don't understand it well.
can communicate with each other, probably by releasing chemicals into the
water, so that two sponges both release their sex cells into the water on
the same day so that they can merge and form a baby sponge. They also can
reproduce simply by having a part of themselves broken off; it might float
away, reattach, and go on living as more or less of a clone of the parent.
may live one year, or many years, and many species go dormant during the
winter months. That means they don't eat or grow for a while, but act like
they're asleep, 'til the water warms up and there's more food in the water
Sponges are invertebrates, which means they don't have a backbone. They also
don't have a hard shell outside their body for protection, like a clam or a bug
might have. But they do leave a skeleton when they die, and that is what we
think of as a "sponge" to use in cleaning and bathing.
Quite a while ago, we found out
that we could manufacture artificial sponges for far less money than we could
harvest sponge skeletons from the ocean, so nowadays, almost all the sponges
you see in the grocery and hardware stores for sale are fake sponges. You can
usually buy a real one in a bath boutique, for example, and you will notice how
its holes and openings are irregular, in contrast to manmade sponges, which
have a consistent, obviously machine-made look.
Sponge bodies may be tubes, fans,
cups, cones, blobs, barrels or a crust over something else. They may be green,
orange and every color in between. There are sponges that look just like
miniature volcanoes, and sponges whose outer surfaces look just like
breadcrumbs. You mostly see them on the lower shore of an ocean in patches that
are about a yard square.
What really sets sponges apart is
that they are sessile, or stationary.
They don't move. At the bottom of their body, they have body parts that are
like fat tree roots, that together are called a holdfast that . . . well, fastens and holds them to the rock or
whatever is their anchor down on the ocean floor.
Now here's a little
experiment you can try:
Measure several cups of
water and pour into one large bowl. Estimate how many cups of water you think
the natural sponge that you have bought or borrowed for this activity will soak
up. Then plunge it into the water and leave it there for a minute. Finally,
lift it out, let it drip for a few seconds, and then transfer it over an empty
bowl, and squeeze. Take your time and squeeze every drop of water out of the
sponge that you can. Then measure how much water you got out of the sponge.
Were you close, or 'way off? Isn't it amazing how the sponge can get its food,
without lifting a finger?
Reminds us a lot of our
KIDS!!!! Just kidding.
Now you know where the
expression "sponging off" comes from!