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(5) Take a Closer Look

Students will consider the history of the land and its commercial, aesthetic and spiritual value. In addition, they will practice research and observation in nature and keeping field notes.

TV/VCR, paper, pencil, rulers for every student or student team, string.

Start video when you hear:
“Oh wow. Look at this. Here is one of the really rare plants of the wetland. Here is the small water parsnip...” Stop video after hearing: “They stopped unplanned growth at the edge of Wabesa Marsh and worked together to restore the already damaged wetland to its natural state.”

Go to a park or open area (playing field, empty lot, parking lot, sidewalk) and ask each student or team of students to mark off one square foot (or square meter) of ground. Ask students to spend 15 minutes examining their piece of ground. Look over their patch of ground from above (for an overview) then kneel or lie down and look very closely. Try to get “eye-to-eye” with the ground. Have students record (using words and sketches) as many textures, shapes and colors as they can. Ask students to share their observations with the class. If possible, do two observations-of a grassy area and a parking lot, or a puddle and a dry area, for instance.


(a) What did you see? Animal, vegetable, mineral?

(b) What might you see if you could dig down a foot...two feet...more?

(c) What was the weather like when you were looking at your patch of ground?

(d) What do you think your piece of ground would have looked like 50 years ago? A hundred years ago ? Where could you look to find this information ?

(e) What gives the land its value: the things that live on it, or can grow on it? Could anything be built on your patch of land? Do you think there could be mineral resources there ?

(f) How does this activity compare to an activity that costs money, like seeing a movie, renting a video or going to a sports event?

(g) In the video, Cal De Witt talks about how a marsh is a cyclical system. Everything gets re-cycled and re-used, and nothing is wasted in this system. How does the human land-to-landfill system differ? How would you draw the cycle of raw materials to manufactured materials to waste...or recycled materials?

(h) Perhaps you’d like to make a map of your patch of land. Look at to learn about how maps are made, and to see some of the terminology mapmakers use.

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