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Lesson: As Above So Below

Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

This Lesson: As Above So Below is intended to allow young urban farmers the ability to understand why soil health, water and ground conditions, bio system ecology, and atmosphere are in balance. This lesson will rely heavily on the Lesson: The Nested Levels of Reality to make relationships between atoms, molecules, compounds, cells, organs, organism, and ecosystem. Students will create drawings or dioramas of the complete ecosystem of their choice.

This project REQUIRES reflection and teamwork. It also works best if the students can craft a demonstration about why nature needs these systems in balance. The system should also identify what life lives in each level and how it benefits that organism and at least two others.

Pattern

This is how things are similar but quite different. Let’s discuss tree limbs and tree roots, or skeletal structures between animals, or patterns of Phi that we see in the natural world.

Process

This is how things work. Think of feathers for example. They look completely different from fur or hair, but in reality they are just fur and fingernails arranged in new patterns.

Structure

This is how things are arranged. Think of atoms and molecules for example. They seem so small, but they arrange themselves in endless new and predictable new structures.


An alternate strategy would be to split the camp into three teams and have each “team” provide data and insight to each other group. This cross pollination of ideas and knowledge will also have the useful benefit of building collaboration and teamwork.

Language and art are just as important as science and math in this exercise. Take advantage of the surprising mystery of the Yin Yang (below, surface, surrounded by atmosphere) model of ecologies to ask your learners where the great split between above, surface really begins.

Materials:

  • 10 Gallon Aquarium
  • Craft supplies (felt, yarn, stamps, ink)
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Foam blocks
  • Craft Paper
  • Markers
  • Plexiglass sheet
  • Glue
  • Tape

Instructions

  • Decide whether each team is building a diorama, a drawing, or a plexiglass maquette
  • Conduct a brief bio blitz of three areas of the Urban Farm
  • Give students time to conduct then blitz and make observations of what they believe they see
  • Review their notes and ideas and get ready to design and build
  • Distribute materials to each group
  • Allow them to build their product
  • Allow them to test and modify their creations
  • After an appropriate amount of time, organize the camp and allow groups to present

Lesson Integration

This is a useful way to address scale, proportion, chemistry, materials, pathology, energy, conductance/resistance, phase changes, materials science, anatomy, health, ratios, and structural analysis.

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