The earth as an apple Materials: Apples and knives (enough for each student, group of students, or just for the instructor) Cutting boards, Bristol board, or something to cut the apple on Each student or group of students receives an apple, cutting board and knife (or just the teacher, who demonstrates to the class) 1) Ask students to imagine that the apple is actually the planet Earth 2) Slice an apple into quarters. Set aside three of the quarters. Students then guess what the 3 quarters represent, and what the lone quarter represent. The ¾’s represent the oceans of the world. The fourth quarter roughly represents the total land area left. Optional: What fraction of the Earth is land? What percentage of the planet is land? 3) Set the water aside and concentrate on the piece of land. Cut this into two. What might each of these represent? One represents land which is in inhospitable to people (polar areas, deserts, swamps, very high or rocky mountainous areas.) The other 1/8th piece is the land area where people can live, (but does not necessarily grow the foods needed for life.) Again, students may be asked what the corresponding fractions and percentages of each are. 4) Now slice this 1/8th piece into four sections, giving you four 1/32nd pieces. Set aside three of these pieces. What might these represent? These are areas too rocky, too wet, too cold, too steep., or with soil too poor to produce food, They also include the areas of land that could produce food but are buried under cities, highways, suburban developments, shopping centers, and other structures that people have built. 5) This leaves a 1/32nd slice of the earth, which represents the only places on the planet where we can still grow food. What sorts of words describe this type of land? Fertile, arable, agricultural, are all descriptive words for this type of land. 6) Carefully peel this slice. Ask the students to guess what this might represent. This tiny bit of peel represents the surface, or topsoil, the very thin skin of the earth's crust upon which humankind depends. Less than five feet deep, it is a fixed amount of food- producing land. 7) So what’s the point? We only have a very small amount of land on which to support our population. When we see the small amount of land that produces our food, it's easy to see that protecting land resources are important. Ask students if they see a problem when they compare the size of the planet to the amount of arable land. Compare the fact that we have a large population (over 6 billion) which is growing, while we have a fixed amount of land. Is this land threatened? By what? Discuss ways in which this finite amount of land is being used for other purposes other than food. The issue of sustainable agriculture can also be discussed. Finally, how might we protect this precious, non- renewable resource? From here, the discussion can go many ways, from wise urban planning, to sustainable farming, to eating locally. This is a good opportunity to introduce the Greenbelt, which is an area of land around the golden horseshoe, where there are about 7000 farms as well as parks, waterways etc, which are protected from development. Finally, discuss the best way to dispose of the apple scraps. Talk about how composting them will actually create something to help our arable land, instead of going to a landfill.
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