Monday, October 18, 2010

Take a Look: A Scientist’s Description

Back on October 4, I used a wondrous first person voice to describe this incredible fungus. I was blown away by it, and just had to take a photo. Today I’m going to use a “serious third person voice” (as Mrs. Techman and I have dubbed it) to describe the same fungus.

This description will be more precise, but less engaging. As we saw from Michelle Cusolito’s comment, one benefit will be the ability for other curious folks to find the fungus.

10:46 hours, September 4, 2010
Eagle Mountain Trail, North Conway, NH
Sunny, clear sky, 74 F
Moist, shady mixed forest with rich understory

About three-quarters of a mile from the trailhead, two unusual white and tannish-beige fungal fruiting bodies were observed. They were 3.5 to 4 feet above the ground on a snag—a dead tree that is still standing.

The smaller structure was about the size of the observer’s fist.

The larger structure was about a foot across and approximately 8 inches from top to bottom. It consisted of two lobes. Each lobe was made up of a series of tiers and appeared to grow from the bottom up. Each tier consisted of 12-15 long, triangular structures that were tinges with the darker color (tannish-beige) along the edges.

At the top of the larger structure, a thin, transparent film resembling the exterior of a soap bubble ran between the second tier of the fruiting body and the tree. The film appeared to be pulling away from the tree as the entire structure shifted, likely due to the presumed weight of the lobe and the force of gravity. It would worth returning to the site to monitor the progress of the fruiting body over a period of time.

Later, the observer identified the unfamiliar species as a white coral tooth fungus.


  1. I love the idea of keeping a science journal that varies between first and third person. I plan on trying this activity in my own classroom, and I want to try first person from the point of view of the scientific object being discussed, add some personification into the mix.

  2. Oh, that's an excellent idea. I'll have to try that too.

    Check back next week to see another fun wondrous first-person entry.

  3. Ah, Melissa, thanks for the scientific details! I love the combination of the two kinds of writing. The wondrous first person is much more engaging but the serious third person helps us know specific scientific facts. The photo coupled with the first person account piqued my interst. The third person answered my questions.

    Just yesterday I took some future science teachers on a field trip to a wooded area near a pond. We found not one, but two different interesting fungi. (I'm fairly certain the second one is a fungus but I'm not positive... more research is still needed!) I mentioned these posts at the time and tried to describe "your" fungus from memory in an engaging way. I needed your wondrous first person description to really catch their interst. Hopefully some of them will drop by and read this as I suggested. (To my students... if you do drop by, leave a comment!)

  4. Thanks for spreading the word, Michelle. I seem to be getting a lot of interest in this new strand. I'm so glad teachers are liking it.