BOOMbox at Home: Fungus Activities
June 24, 2020
Fungus might sound pretty gross, but fungi are actually all around us, including the yeast we use to make bread and the mushrooms that may be in some of your favorite meals. Here are some activities you can use to explore these funky life forms.
Start out simple by learning the anatomy of a mushroom by making mushroom stamps, as described by MotherNatured. You can use ink or paint, and store-bought mushrooms or mushrooms you foraged from outside (remember-- strange mushrooms are for studying, not for snacks). Once you have an idea of what the mushroom looks like, get creative! Can you use your mushroom stamps to make a picture of a whole mushroom?
If you enjoyed mushroom stamping, you’ll be excited to learn that there’s even more to see! Mushrooms reproduce via spores, which are small structures that you’d normally need a microscope to see clearly. No microscope at home? No worries, the North American Mycological Association (NAMA) can show you how to make a spore print with supplies that are probably already in your kitchen. This activity does take a little while: you may need to leave your print alone for up to 24 hours for the pattern to fully form.
While you’re waiting for your spore print to finish, why not check out more of the NAMA website? We love their Fungus Files for simple explanations of how fungi function. They have all sorts of simple and fun activities, including puzzles and creative prompts.
Scientist of the Week
Paul Stamets is an American mycologist, entrepreneur, and advocate. He has written five books on mycology, been recognized by the North American Mycological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and been featured prominently in the 2019 documentary, Fantastic Fungi. A major astromycologist character in Star Trek Discovery is named after him.
We’d love to see the results of your experiments! Tag @skokielibrary when you share photos of what you’ve created on social media.
Written by Eli.