Science Unit

Note to educators: After choosing and teaching the Science unit that best pertains to the articles in the April 2004 edition of Scarboro Missions magazine, have students compare the scientific knowledge they have learned with some of the challenges written about in the magazine.

The Earth Charter
Earth Charter: www.earthcharter.org

Students may research this site under the following headings:

  1. Have students define the Earth Charter and describe what students in other countries are doing.
  2. What ecological issues are important to the students’ school or to their community?
  3. Have students choose one ecological issue as a class. Investigate the issue and all the various aspects including opposing opinions.What is being done to address this issue? For example, the environmentally sensitive Oak Ridges moraine in Ontario, Canada, is under attack from land developers. There are many opposing views about how this land should be used, preserved or conserved.
  4. Students could look at a particular ecological issue and use their skills to forecast the future based on two scenarios:
    1. if priority is given to human needs alone and human activity goes unchecked; or
    2. if priority is given to the needs of all creation and actions serve to maintain or restore the delicate, sacred balance.

Art
Using the ideas from the Earth Charter art pages http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/content/categories/Art, invite students to sculpt, paint, draw or design their own ideas about the environment. Using visuals, students could show differing views of the future as they forecast it. An art gallery could be designed and students could write their views and explain their visuals to the school, to parents, community leaders, etc.

 

Poetry
After reading from the poetry pages of the Earth Charter website http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/content/categories/Art, have students write their own poetry. Some of the poetry could be linked to the artwork, combining the art and poetry in a scrapbook assignment.

 

David Suzuki
There are several items of interest on the David Suzuki Foundation website: www.davidsuzuki.org

  1. Newsroom for news releases: what is new concerning the environment, and what are the continuing ecological challenges facing scientists and all humanity today. Keep an ongoing journal of events. Prepare a place on the bulletin board for these news releases.
  2. science matters: This is a weekly column by David Suzuki. Students can go to the newsletter archives to see earlier articles. Ask each student to choose and read one article by Suzuki. Divide students into groups of four or five to discuss what they have learned from their readings. List the articles and group by content. Have each group present their findings to the class.
  3. Essay on Biotechnology: This is a long essay on the effects of biotechnology and would be suitable for grade 10 students. Make copies of the essay and distribute to students for reading. Make a chart of positive and negative effects. Do students agree with Suzuki? Why/why not?

 

Mahatma Gandhi
Go to the Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence: www.gandhiinstitute.org
This website offers Events, News, and New in the Library, and is a more appropriate site for Grades 9-12.

 

 

ACTION: “Renewing the Sacred Balance in our spirituality and way of life”    html version |  pdf version
In his article, Mark Hathaway offers personal ways to make changes in our lives. Ask students to:

  1. Read the list and check the actions that appeal to them.
  2. Choose one personal action to do each week. Keep a journal and list the personal actions you promise to do. After fulfilling one promise a week, write about how you felt doing that particular action. Did it make you more aware of the environment?
  3. Have students go back to the Earth Charter web site www.earthcharter.org, Read about what other students have done to make the Earth a better place.
  4. Have students choose one area within the school environment that needs to change. Using the ideas from the Earth Charter for Action, make a plan of action for the class or the school.

 

Reflection Days 

Day 1: Ecology and spirituality 
Day 2: Renewing the Sacred Balance

These reflections can be used for students in the Roman Catholic school system in preparation for Grade 8 Confirmation. However, they can be adapted for other Christian users.

Focus:

The focus for this day is to provide time for reflection on the wonders of nature and the ways, both good and bad, that humans have used the gift of the Earth. Students should be asked to bring suitable outdoor clothing (rain gear, coats, boots, extra socks, gloves, hats, etc.)

Resources:

Students should prepare this day with the teacher so that they can participate in activities that are relevant to them. If they have completed the activities in this Study Guide, students may use many of the prayers, posters, art and poetry that they created.

  1. Art:
    Posters and other images may be used throughout the day. If students participated in the art activities in this Study Guide, they could choose some of these.
  2. Prayers (suggested sources):
    • The Psalms, or student written psalms/prayers
    • “The Message” by Eugene H. Peterson (a modern translation of the Bible)
    • “Prayers of A Planetary Pilgrim” by Edward M. Hays (modern psalms and prayers)
    • “Wrestling the Light” by Ted Loder (justice prayers)
    • “Earth Prayers” (prayers from a variety of faith traditions)
    • Holistic Living: Prayer, Spirituality & Healing: 1stholistic.com/Spl_prayers/default.htm
      (prayers from Christian and other faith traditions)
  3. Skits/mimes:
    Students could choose one issue or topic from the April 2004 edition of Scarboro Missions magazine that they consider important and prepare a short skit or mime to present to the class on the reflection day.Teacher preparation:

    1. Prayer table: table cloth, globe, bible, nature pictures, candle(s), other…
    2. Opening comments to welcome students and set the tone for the day.
    3. Prizes: inexpensive small prizes for winners of team activities.

    Opening activities:

    1. A sheet of 15 questions based on articles from the April 2004 edition of Scarboro Missions magazine. Students are required to work in teams to answer. A 10-minute time limit is set and the first team to complete successfully, wins.
    2. Slips of paper with the words: fire, wind, water, Earth, pollution, peace. Divide students into groups of five and give one word to each group. Groups have to form the word/concept using their bodies-no words. Other groups guess the word.
    3. Walk in the park or other nature area.
    4. Reflection paper for quiet times.
    5. Resources: paper and pens. coloured pencils, art paper.
    6. Video: (please be sure to obtain viewing license) “The Lorax”: An animated Dr. Suess film that discusses some of the issues featured in the magazine.
    7. Food: bag lunches, pot luck, order in…

    Place:

    1. It would be best to hold the reflection day away from the school, perhaps at a retreat place or the church hall. If this is not possible, try to have a time for a walk in a park close to the school. The idea is to set aside time for quiet reflection outdoors.
    2. In the event that outdoor time is not possible, have on hand a variety of nature pictures that students can use for reflection indoors.
    3. When students arrive, they should work in small groups to:
      • bring in resources from the bus and set up on a table
      • assist teacher to set the prayer table
      • prepare material for their skits
      • put up the posters and artwork
      • set up chairs and other tables as needed
      • put food away in cupboards, refrigerator