biosphere catastrophe

Yesterday (before Catcher went to bed at three in the afternoon) we visited Laguna Gloria for an afternoon family-friendly art project. It turns out, however, that the art project had a little more science to it than I had anticipated. We made our own biospheres (see biosphere definition, below) in Mason jars. I was half paying attention to the lady telling us what to put where--it may have had something to do with the three year-old screaming at my hip--so I possibly missed something in the presentation.

As I remember it, we put some rocks in the bottom, followed by tap water, some green pond-like plant (it has a name; I don't remember it), some other kind of water with green floaty things in it, a snail and a shrimp. I definitely remember the shrimp. Then we cut up a sponge in whatever shapes we wanted to serve as the "art" (at least I think that's what it was) floating in our biosphere. I made a simple heart since it was Valentine's Day. Scout (see above) jammed her jar full of "art."

Once we had finished, we closed up our jars and went on our merry way. Here is where something probably went wrong. When we got home, we all picked a spot for our biospheres. We looked in the jars and watched our cute little shrimp walking around. We tossed around possible names for our new "pets," if you will (Tillie liked the name Flower) and eventually we forgot about them and went to bed. Here's the thing...we never took off the lids. I'm no scientist, which will be obvious if you've already figured out that we woke up this morning to four dead shrimp.

Catcher was the first to notice that his shrimp was "just sitting there." Upon closer inspection, I discovered the shrimp was "just floating there" (upside down). I checked mine next: dead. Then Flower: dead. We never could locate Scout's through the tangle of sponges, but I suspect it met the same fate. So I'm guessing we should have taken the lids off to give the little guys some oxygen? Actually, I'm not even the one who realized this--I'm stealing Catcher's hypothesis. He figured out that maybe they ran out of air. Oops.

biosphere |ˈbīəˌsfi(ə)r|
the regions of the surface, atmosphere, and hydrosphere of the earth (or analogous parts of other planets) occupied by living organisms.

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