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5/29/14 Volume 1, Issue 1

Fungi’s Digest Organism of the Year: Saprophytes For this year’s Organism of the Year, Fungi’s Digest has chosen the saprophyte. Found near dead organic material (their main food source), especially underground, the saprophyte is a group of fungi/bacteria. The ending “phyte” means plant, but bacteria and mushrooms are classified as fungi. Orchids were originally thought to be saprophytes because they do not use photosynthesis to create a source of nutrients. Scientists believed that they were decomposers, until later they discovered that orchids were not saprophytes, and instead were parasites by growing on living fungi. Saprophytes are an essential part of an ecosystem. They break down dead and decaying organic matter and convert it into simple substances that plants can take in to recycle and use. Mushrooms, bread mold, and soil bacteria are all examples of saprophytes. Soil is an everyday object for many of us. We don’t give much thought to it, yet it is probably one of the things we depend on the most. As Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.” That is true. Have you ever thought about the plethora of organisms supported by the soil? The soil supports its own ecosystem, as well as many of other above-ground ecosystems by providing housing for plants and decomposer, two thing we need desperately. Let me paint you an image now, it’s in the future, the soil is now a rarity, so are other creatures. With the absence of soil, buildings would collapse, literally and metaphorically. Our ecosystem would fail, countless animals would become extinct, and no more pretty flowers. (Continue pg. 2)


Organism of the Year: Saprophytes Continued Yes, perhaps some organisms adapted to a life without plants but not us. Humans are rare now because after we lacked soil we lacked plants, Co2 levels rose, more animals died. Then we lost all the soil to pollution, no buildings stand, and fresh produce and meat is harder to come by, so we turn to the sea. As the soil loss continues we overfish, kill off many species of organisms, and Co2 levels continue to rise, which causes global warming to continue. In the very far future, the loss of soil could be our downfall. Yes, you heard me right, the absence of the thing that is beneath us unnoticed by many could be our downfall. Soil loss is a very big issue in this world, but many people don’t even know about it. Soil loss is one of the ingest problems the world faces! It is so easy to loose soil, but it is very hard to create it. It takes hundreds of years to create one to two inches of soil. The U.S looses soil 10 times faster than we can produce it and other countries are loosing it even faster. China and India loose their topsoil 30 to 40 times faster than it takes to be made. Soil basically supports us. Many people believe that soil will determine the outcome of modern civilization. We are loosing most of our topsoil by agriculture which is just also very important to life on this earth. Another way we loose soil is by turning it into an urban area. We are so rapidly making new houses, stores, roads, and many other buildings because of our constantly growing population. But we can help stop loosing soil so quickly by applying organic compost, cover crops, nitrogenfixing plants, mulch and compost tea. Some land has been bought from farmers to preserve the soil so it won’t be so quickly used. Also many people are encouraging farmers to use the “no till” method. leaving a little stub to reduce erosion. When organic methods like “no till” farming are used the soil is more healthy.


Fungi’s Digest

Volume 1, Issue 1

Dear Reader, This soil unit went beyond what I expected it to. I expected to be sitting in a classroom, while lectured about different farming methods and different uses for soil, but the unit really went more in depth. To start with, we did a lot of hands on things, whether making seed balls, sifting our hands through wormy dirt, or learning tales of various trees on campus. The largest field trip we did was to weed mustard. Mustard I learned, releases chemicals into the soil that hinder other plants efforts to grow, it also grows dry after it dies, making a fire hazard. Weeding this was not only a fun and calming experience but it was also good for the plant and for the soil, and as one of the girls in the same group as me said, “It’s like we are giving Earth a haircut.” These exciting field trips continued to surprise me because only rarely do adults encourage working with soil while in white shirts. Another cool thing about the soil unit was how all subjects were incorporated into it. For math we learned about the Fibonacci sequence which occurs in nature, for science we took bacteria samples of various soils and learned about necessity of soil, and for English and history we looked at different propaganda posters and even made our own! All in all, the soil unit was a wonderful way to wrap up a wonderful year. -Zia

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Fungi’s Digest

Volume 1, Issue 1

Dear Reader, The ground beneath you right now may seem inactive, but it is full of life. Nightcrawlers, arthropods, moles, and maybe even groundhogs are in the soil underfoot. What happens if we take away that soil? All those animals go away. So what? Other things would be lost, too, including groundwater, plants, and supplies antibiotics used in medicine. These things are essential for human life, and without dirt, we can’t have any of them. While working in the Soil Unit, one of my favorite moments was when we all took off our shoes and ran around in the grass. I felt so at peace, like I was one with the earth. After somersaulting down the hill, I wanted nothing more than to stay in that moment forever. Being with my friends in nature, the sun shining pleasantly, the cool early-summer breeze gently blowing. It was magical. That moment really made me feel like that’s what the Soil Unit was all about, being in nature and enjoying the soil. Something I was really proud of in the Soil Unit was working on my “Barbaric Yawp” poem. One of my favorite lines was in the second stanza; “This soil has seen the sun set and rise on a thousand lives.” I felt that this line really captured just how old the soil is, and how it has helped humanity survive all these years. My poem helped show the scene and I feel like the first stanza illustrates the freedom and jubilation my classmates and I felt that day in the back of Mudd. A challenge during the whole unit was working on the group projects. Cooperating was not too difficult, but it was hard to organize our work and give ourselves jobs to do. When we learned how to work together as a team and order things better, the projects were a breeze. Overall, I really liked working with my group and getting to know them better as we worked on our magazine, propaganda poster, and bacteria collection projects. The Soil Unit was a wonderful learning experience that taught me the importance of soil and how to solve local problems with the soil and farming industry. I am glad to have been able to participate in this delightful endeavor. -Megan


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Fungi’s Digest

Volume 1, Issue 1

Dear Reader, I’m Greer Little and I’m one of the editors of this magazine. The soil unit has been an amazing experience for me. When I originally heard of the soil unit I thought it would be really boring and I wasn’t even sure what we were supposed to learn about. I figured there was something that we would learn, but I definitely did not expect it to be this fun. Something that really caught my eye during the soil unit was Victory Gardens. It was amazing that 40% of the U.S’s food came from victory gardens during world war II. It inspired me to make my own garden which my family and I are planting this weekend. When we went on a field trip to pick the wildflower I had a great time! I never realized how important it is to clear invasive plants from the soil. The plant can release toxins into the soil so the soil is only a good environment for that plant to live in. Which creates a bad environment for all of California’s native plants. When we went to the Arlington Gardens I had an amazing time. I felt like I was in my own little paradise. Seeing how much bacteria came from the Arlington Gardens was gross but also expected. I hope I can go back there soon. It’s a great place to get inspiration for poems and stories, and I did! I wrote one of my favorite poems there and there were so many thoughts going through me at once as I wrote the poem. I even struggled to get all my ideas into the poem. Because there was so much inspiration! I did not understand the importance of soil but this unit has really opened my eyes and now I can apply what we learned to my daily life. I think it’s important for all people to learn about the importance of soil and all that happens in and around it. -Greer


What produce are you? What’s your favorite color? A) Blood orange B) Deep purple C) Light brown D) Spring green E) Dark forest or emerald Which would you typically wear? A) A ruffled number with sparkles! B) A pantsuit or dress C) khaki pants and a button-up shirt D) A sheer top with a cami underneath E) A cool leather jacket What is your favorite time of the year? A) All the time! Every day is special B) July to October C) All of Summer D) Spring E) Autumn What is your relationship with people? A) I like people, but they don’t seem to like me. B) I am well liked by most C) Everyone likes me, and I like them :) D) I don’t know and I don’t care! I’m my own person E) Feared and respected Which word most appeals to you? A) Happiness B) Royal C) Rejuvenation D) Fresh E) Smooth What would you do if insulted? A) POISON THEM!!!!! B) Be above it C) Eat my feelings :( D) Insult them right back! E) Punch them in the face


Results

Mostly A’s: You are the tomato! Quirky, spastic, and full of jubilation, maybe with a dark side, you love to brighten people’s days and add color and flavor wherever you go! Sometimes you are ostracized by others due to your interesting and unique personality, but all you want is affection.

Mostly B’s: You are the eggplant! Regal and sophisticated, you always take the high road and use your manners. NEVER rude or impolite, you always are nice to people, even strangers. You have a sense of taste, and always appreciate a shopping trip. :)

Mostly C’s: You are a potato! Although not a slob, you are lazy and appreciate a good nap. You enjoy food, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Everyone likes you and wants to be your friend, and you like them right back! Overall, you are one awesome person and know how to have fun!

Mostly D’s: You are celery! Sassy and pretty, you like yourself for who you are and wouldn’t change yourself no matter what. Although most wouldn’t think it, you are sciencey and love experimenting! If someone picks on you or your friends, you’ll teach them a lesson for sure!

Mostly E’s: You are the cucumber! Cool and a bit of a rebel, you always get your way. No one is the boss of you, and you are proud of who you are, despite being a bit of a loner. Although it doesn’t seem like it, you have a sense of humor and appreciate a good joke.


Who Wore the Color Best? Orange? Or Carrot?

Tomato? Or jalapeno?

Who has a better pouty face, the lemon? Or the lime?


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Fungi’s Digest

Volume 1, Issue 1

The Garden By Zia Above me branches swoop low to fringe my vision. Below me dirt crunches softly beneath my feet. In the distance I see a telephone pole, a reminder of waiting tasks to be completed. Birds are chirping, perhaps inviting each other to play while in the background little kids quarrel. The scent of pine wafts through my nose, mingling with scents of flowers and oranges. The wind tickles my cheek while teasingly throwing my hair in my face, blinding my view of the garden. Rough wood under my fingers turns smooth as my fingers trace little patterns. Nearby, a bee buzzes in victory at its find, and lands on a large flower. Glancing around I notice a statue of a boy hugging a dog, caught up in the joy of the garden. Out of the blue a bird chirps, not a twittery bird, playing with friends but a lone bird, calling to signal the end of the day in a slow mournful song. They never tell you what you’re missing out on when you go to the garden, they just say you are missing nice flowers, nobody mentions the calm feeling that comes with it. Why is it that many people prefer the drunken happiness of electronics to the vivid joy and serenity of a garden?


Under the Umbrella By Megan Above me fly the birds so sweetly As far as I can see Down the street Rolls a school bus Disrupting nature and spreading gasoline fumes I sigh and look around me Seeing the busy Pasadena street in the distance And the striped bees With fragrant purple lavender beside me We are so caught up In our ways that we Forget what matters We only have One life, one world, one family So why do we waste it?


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Fungi’s Digest

Volume 1, Issue 1

I’ll Settle For a Butterfly By Greer Tree branches hang above me, reaching down and grazing my face, as I walk through my very own jungle. When I glance down the soft brown dirt makes little clouds below my feet as I lightly kick the ground. As far as I can see there is green and brown. It fills every part of my body. The sounds of nature harmonize, to create my very own song. I could listen to it all day. As I tune out the serene world i’m in, I try and focus on the cars in the distance. It completely changes the way I feel and I find myself slowly drifting back to my little paradise. The wind creates a soup of many different smells. Leaving me surprised at first, but then creating the most sensational smell of all. I graze the plant to my right, without looking in its direction. I feel a prickle and then a needle of pain shooting up my right arm. A river of red flows down my finger. The bright green leaves act as a slide, for the dew drops that fall in the morning. Breathtaking: The bees know exactly where to be and what to do they are organized completely unlike me. The only place my mind and I want to be is here. As I lay with my legs and arms stretched out across the chair I can’t help but daydream about this jungle. The glass butterfly caught me by surprise, as it lifted up off the tall grass and drifted away. My mind flutters in many different directions, like the butterfly. I try to be more like the bees, but in a wonderful place like this, Maybe I should just settle for being like the butterfly.


Volume 1, Issue 1

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Barbaric Yawp By Zia Sticking my fingers in the grass, Imagining for a second that they are like roots, They take hold in the grass and grow deeper, deeper still. Suddenly I’m not bending down to the ground anymore; I’m soaring with the trees, My leaves releasing a joyful cry of delight at the wind combing through them. Nope, never mind, the roots that my fingers became is just some tangled grass, The leaves are just my mind, as the breeze ruffles my hair, and the once tall tree is now me, average in height, I guess my imagination makes up the rest of the height that I felt when being a tree.


One With the Earth By Megan “I am one with the wind and sky!” my voice calls As I race through the late spring grass ‘Barbaric yawps’ ring through the air From the smiling mouths of the students The seventh grade pressure leaves my fellow classmates As we embrace the world around us Somersaulting down the mushroom riddled hill I have never felt more relaxed or more at home Beneath me lay ancient things Grass, humus, topsoil, parent rock, bedrock Formed at the dawn of time This soil has seen the sun set and rise on a thousand lives I wait until my sun, and your sun, set And we become one with the dirt As I did on that sunny day


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Fungi’s Digest

Lying In Almost Perfect Serenity On the grass, Drops of water coat my toes, The green grass hides the flaws of my feet. I let the grass engulf me. I let it scoop me up, and carry me away The things I thought before I sat, Have left my mind. But my mind is never blank. I never really stop thinking, But the blanket I lie on camouflages me, And I lie in almost perfect serenity. How do you stay so calm? Your mind filled with all but one thought As people stomp and treat you as if you’re not alive. When people rip you up And Trim you down But lying here on the dew covered grass I’d be calm as well. If I were you, Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. You are my support. And without you, I don’t know where the world would be. Thank you.

Volume 1, Issue 1


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Fungi’s Digest

Volume 1, Issue 1

Zia’s Page

Weeding Mustard By Zia One of the most unique field trips we did was the trip we did to weed mustard. Yes, I know, it does sound a little tedious but it was surprisingly calming, and it was very satisfying to see all the progress made once we were finished. Several people climbed extremely high before settling down in a place to weed, but unlike them, I decided to stick in a small area where I knew my efforts weren’t going to get stretched out. I chose a small path that connected with one of the higher up areas. This I figured would not be useful to me, so I could focus, but to others on the higher up who wished to come down. After a while of weeding my back began to ache from bending down, then my hands, who were unprotected against the sharp little needles in the mustard, and lastly my feet who decided they were tired of clinging to the rocky hillside with every ounce of strength they had. Seeing as my body needed a break I looked up, and noticed that it a snack break. Mmm… perfect time to break out the gummy hotdog I brought for snack. I joined my friends and ate with them. To me the mustard looked like pretty flowers, so why not leave them, I thought. Answering my question, voice of our guide spoke. “They put things into the soil that makes it harder for other plants to survive, plus after they die they grow brittle, perfect kindling for a wildfire.” So that was why. Overall it was very fun, not only calming to have some time to think, but fun to spending time with friends, and good to know that we were helping save the soil.


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Volume 1, Issue 1

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Megan’s Page Of our many adventures in the Soil Unit, one of the most fascinating was the bacteria experiment. We took eight petri dishes, left one open in the air, and filled the others with whatever we wanted. For ours, we used dirt from under a table, dirt from under a tree, a bit of a popsicle, a leaf, spit from each member of the group, a random bottlecap, and Zia’s sneeze juice. Our hypothesis was that if multiple things are tested for the number of types of bacteria, the sneeze juice will have the most kinds. In our procedure, we first got the petri dishes with bacteria food. We then found good sample sources, and afterwards placed the samples in our petri dishes. After getting rid of the excess material, we waited four days and then recorded our results. After waiting four days, we finally unveiled the petri dishes to find a rainbow of bacteria. On the leaf petri dishes, there were many speckles. The group spit had quite a bit of whitish stuff on it. The green popsicle was gooey and fuzzy, which was not very appealing to the eyes or nose. The tree dirt’s bacteria was very difficult to see, and the table’s dirt had lots of whitish speckles. The bottlecap had a large, brown cluster of bacteria in the middle, and the sneeze juice had unique orange and white fuzzy bacteria. The leaf, group spit, popsicle, and sneeze juice all had five different kinds. The tree dirt and table dirt both had two kinds of bacteria. The bottle cap that we found on the table had six different kinds of bacteria, the most out of all the petri dishes. This meant that our hypothesis was wrong. Instead of Zia’s sneeze juice having the most kinds of bacteria, the bottlecap did.


Fungi’s Digest

Volume 1, Issue 1

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Greer’s Page Bright Yellow School Bus

The bright yellow school bus instantly awakens me. My droopy eyes now open. As I step into the bus, I search the seats for a place to sit, Better yet, Someone to sit with. I seat myself in the center of it all. With one big bench all to myself. The music can be heard all throughout the bus. But above all, you can hear the voices of carefree children. Where are we going? The other bus goes in a different direction as we part ways with our twin. I’m left feeling more confused than before. Why'd we go a separate direction? The bus starts to turn, Which brings two feelings: Fear and relief. Fear because nobody thought the bus could make a 180 on the tiny road, and relief, because everybody thought we were going to be reunited with our other twin once more. We arrived at a small house. Gardening tools fill one of the only rooms.


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