September Teacher Resource Guide

The ninth month of the modern calendar -- still called the 'seventh month' as a holdover from the days when the Roman year started in March - September is the end of summer and the start of autumn in most of the northern half of the globe (while Spring is just starting in Australia and South America). It's a time of warm days and cool nights, the first autumn colors in the trees, and sometimes, the first frosts in the northern areas of the U.S., Europe, and Russia. It is also a month that has seen a lot of human events, and some interesting things also happen in the natural world as the seasons change.

September is a month when a lot of mushrooms spring up in the woods - from tiny, delicate cups with slender stems growing off a log, to huge red agarics with white spots on their caps, to disgusting-looking jelly fungi on rotting wood. The reason might seem to be mysterious, or simply because there is more rain in September than in the late summer. The wet September weather does contribute to all those mushrooms coming up, but there is another, odder reason as well. The ground has been heating up steadily over the summer, thanks to high temperatures and lots of sun, and because dirt holds heat well, the ground stays warm into September. When the autumn rains combine with that warm dirt, conditions are just right for a lot of mushrooms to sprout. So leftover August ground heat and September rains are both keys to why the woods are full of mushrooms at this time of year.

Pennsylvania has made the most of its many old mines by turning them into mushroom farms, and, perhaps inspired by all the mushrooms in the woods, the state holds its Annual Mushroom Festival in Kennett Square to draw people who like to eat mushrooms from all over the country. The festival includes tours of underground mushroom farms, lots of food, rides, and music, and even mushroom wine, showing just how many different uses people can find for the humble mushroom.

The first airport to be opened in the world, the College Park Airport in Maryland, was first officially opened for use on a late September day in 1909. Construction of the airport had been started in August, which gives some idea of how primitive the airport arrangements must have been. The first airplane didn't fly out of the airport until early October, however, despite the official opening date - the first plane to use the world's first airport was a Wright Type A Biplane, which was shipped to the airport in pieces and assembled on the airstrip before its maiden flight. Interestingly, College Park Airport is still in use, although its use has been cut back sharply since another famous September aviation event - the terrorist attacks of September 11th.

In recent years, September has become National Chicken Month. This is because the National Chicken Council, a group of big chicken companies, decided that they weren't selling enough chicken after the summer barbecue season ended. Their solution was to name September National Chicken Month, and advertise it as that everywhere they could. The strange and interesting fact is that simply calling September "National Chicken Month" caused people to start eating a lot more chicken - to the delight of the National Chicken Council.

Notable September Holidays, Events, and Celebrations

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