I know many GEM’s have given testimonials on picking carrots. Well, this is another one. Picking carrots is near the top of the list of fun things to do in the garden. I was lucky enough to have a small group of 1st graders who were not afraid to get their hands dirty. They found long, short, fat, skinny, red, purple, and orange carrots. They found ones with lots of root hairs, ones with hardly any. They found ones that had been chewed on by squirrels (arrgh!) and ones that were perfect. They also found worms, beetles, cutworm pupae, and centipedes.
After picking the carrots, we washed them in a big tub of water. It was a warm, sunny day, so this part was almost as great as picking.
After the entire bed was cleared, the science teacher selected a bunch for her lab about roots (surface area, water absorption, osmosis). For 1st graders, the lab focused mainly on observing the root and root hairs, then doing a very detailed drawing. Kindergartners learned that the carrot was actually a root. Older classes observed carrot parings that were put in fresh water vs. those put in salty water. The parings in salty water were less crunchy (yes, they tasted both) and more wilted demonstrating the direction of water movement from low concentration of salt to high concentration. Each class that came to the garden that day for the root lab was rewarded with a crunchy, healthy snack at the end.