The Magnitude of Small Things
Week of  May 23 – May 29, 2021

by Lexi Grove, Environmental Educator

Over the past few weeks I have been dipping a net into Phillips Pond in search of creatures to show to 5th graders in the Syracuse City School District. Their virtual field trip to Baltimore Woods introduces them to the different ecosystems we have and the animals and plants that inhabit them. The pond ecosystem is my favorite part because I love catching the tiny creatures that live under the water. Though these creatures are small, they can be ferocious predators or important contributors to nutrient cycling. They also have incredible life cycles that transform their bodies from one form to another.

We have been asked a few times on these virtual field trips “How many animals live at Baltimore Woods?” This question is fun to explore with kids because I think we often forget about the life that lives beneath our feet. When you stand still and quiet at the edge of the pond, you could see 10 different species swim past you. The little creatures do not take up much space or resources, meaning there could be hundreds of each species living in the pond. Then think about all the tiny arthropods under leaf litter and logs in the forest or try to count the number of bees and butterflies hovering above flowers in the field. It is difficult to wrap my mind around the sheer number of creatures that inhabit the preserve, but that means there is so much for us to discover!