In August 1959, the earth beneath Hawaii shook, and three months later Kīlaeua Iki, a smaller crater next to the expansive dent in the top of Hawaii most active volcano, exploded, sending fountains of lava 1,900 feet high. For a month, lava spurted out of the volcano and dripped down the mountain in red-hot rivers. Finally, in December, the eruptions stopped.
In January, as soon as they could, two botanists climbed into the devastated area and marked off small plots of ground, about 30 feet by 30 feet. Over the next four years, and again in 1966 and 1968, they returned to identify and count the plants that were growing there.
When wildfires burn hot through trees and grass, they still leave behind parts of plants and seeds hidden beneath the ground. But when lava flows through, the devastation can be complete. The botanists wanted to know what kind of plants would colonize the lava first and which type of lava they’d find most easy to settle on. But their main question was one with a long horizon: After a volcanic eruption, how long does it take a forest to develop?
Each Tuesday is EducationTuesday here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts about educators and all things STEM. Adafruit supports our educators and loves to spread the good word about educational STEM innovations!
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.