Friday, September 18, 2015

Episode 282 (9-21-15): Water's Among the Non-Living, But It's All Around and Within the Living

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:09)

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, photos, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 9-18-15.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of September 21, 2015.

This week’s episode is especially for some of Virginia’s youngest science students: those in
kindergarten.  We’ll use water sounds to learn about differences between living things and non-living things.

To start, have a listen to two watery mystery sounds, and see if you know which one’s living and which one’s non-living.  Here goes!

SOUNDS – 8 sec – Beaver tail splat, North Fork Roanoke River flow

The first sound was a beaver slapping its tail on water – living!  The second sound was water flowing in a river – non-living!  But both the beaver and the water were moving, weren’t they?  So moving, by itself, isn’t enough to tell us what’s living and what’s non-living.  Let’s hear some other sounds to learn about more about living things.  Ready?

SOUND – 4 sec –
Spring Peepers and Gray Tree Frogs

That’s the sound of frogs in spring looking for mates to produce frog eggs, which hatch into tadpoles and then become new adult frogs.  So part of living is producing new living things in a life cycle.  Ready for the next one?

SOUND – 4 sec – Pelican chicks

That’s the sound of baby pelicans, before they grow into adult birds.   So growth is part of living.  Ready for another?

SOUND – 3 sec –
Mosquito buzzing

That’s a mosquito buzzing around someone in the insect’s surroundings, or its environment.  And if you hear that sound in your environment, you’ll probably do something, like swat at the insect.  So doing things in response to one’s environment is part of living.  And here’s the last one:

SOUND – 7 sec –
Whale surfacing and spouting air

That’s the sound of a whale surfacing to get air.   Living things need air, water, and food in order to keep living.

Now, here’s a riddle for you – what do you do every day that makes something non-living become part of something living?  And here’s a sound hint:

SOUND – 6 sec –
Pouring water and dropping ice cubes into a glass

When you drink water, that non-living water becomes part of the living you!

Let’s close with four more water sounds, and see if you can tell what’s living and what’s non-living.  Thanks for listening, and good luck!

SOUNDS - ~ 21 sec - motor boat; loons; rain/thunder; person wading into the New River in Giles County, Va., on New Year’s Day

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The pelican chicks sound was taken from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Digital Library, (for sound clips specifically, see  Pelicans were the subject of Virginia Water Radio Episode 92 (week of 1-16-12).

The loons sound was taken from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Digital Library, (for sound clips specifically, see  Loons were the subject of Virginia Water Radio Episode 88, 11/14/11.

The mosquito sound was recorded by user Zywx and made available for public use on, online at, under Creative Commons License 0 (public domain).  For more information on Creative Commons licenses, please see  Mosquitoes were part of the subject of Virginia Water Radio Episode 259 (3-30-15).

The whale spouting recording was taken from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Digital Library, (for sound clips specifically, see  Whale sounds were the subject of Virginia Water Radio Episode 92 (12/12/11).

All other sounds were recorded by Alan Raflo for Virginia Water Radio and the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.

Thanks to Dr. Daniel McLaughlin, of the Virginia Water Resources Research Center and of the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, for his assistance with this episode.


Which are living things and which are non-living things in this photo, from the North Fork Shenandoah River in Shenandoah County, Va., August 31, 2007?  Living things include the water striders on the surface, algae on the surface of the rocks, fallen leaves (formerly living), and clam shells (formerly living).  Non-living things include the water, rocks, and the mineral particles (sand, silt, and clay) in the river bed.


“Kindergarten...kindergarten” blog, “A Science Mini-Unit: Living and Non-Living,” 3/25/12, available online at

Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and WGBH-Boston, “Living vs. Non-living,” online at (resources for grades K-2 and 3-5).

Utah State Office of Education, “Are You Among the Living or the Nonliving?”; available online at (designed for grade 3)., “Kindergarten Science Vocabulary,” online at


The following episodes were written especially for certain science subjects and grade levels in Virginia:

At the Freezing Point – Episode 249, 1-9-15 (for K-3)
Density – Episode 255, 3-2-15 (for Grades 5-6)
Reaching the Boiling Point – Episode 250, 1-26-15 (for K-3)

Many other episodes cover topics that Virginia K-12 science students study.  All episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (


This episode is intended to help specifically with the following Virginia 2010 Science Standard of Learning (SOL):

K.5 – differences between living organisms and non-living objects; key characteristics of living organisms include growth, movement, response to the environment, having offspring; and need for food, air, and water.

The episode may also apply to the following other Science SOLs:

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
K.6 – basic needs and life processes of plants and animals.
1.5 - animals’ basic needs and distinguishing characteristics.
2.4 - life cycles.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at