L a n d L e a r n : Comparing apples and earth - A classroom activity

image: apple globe
image: apple globe

Comparing apples and Earth
- a classroom activity

Victorian Essential Learning Standards Domains and (Levels):

Science (3,4)

Humanities - Geography (4,5)

Science (3,4)

Duration:  2 hours

Setting:   The classroom or home economics room.


Just how much of the Earth's surface is needed for growing food for a world of people?
1. Slice an apple into quarters. Set aside three of the quarters, as they represent water on the Earth's surface.
2. Cut the remaining quarter in half. Set aside one of the halves as uninhabited deserts, swamps and the Arctic and Antarctic areas.
3. Divide the remaining piece into quarters. Set aside three of the pieces for land that is too rocky, wet, hot or poor for crop production.
4. The remaining piece is 1/32nd of the original apple. Peel this section. The peel represents the thin layer of soil that is available for producing all of the world's food crops.

Adapted from resources of California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom

» apples (or substitute, eg potatoes)
» chopping boards or plates
» knives

Risk alert: Use of knives, especially with younger students. A demonstrator could cut one apple and students eat an approximate amount.

Instructions & suggestions:
1. Step by step, read the instructions to the students for them to follow. It is more effective if they do not have the instructions in front of them. The activity can be done in pairs, or it can be demonstrated by the teacher and one or two students, depending on circumstances and age. [Provide the students with a copy of the activity to take home to do with their families.]
2. Discussion points will be directed by the purpose of using the activity and year level of students. Experience and feedback from teachers suggest it is more effective to save the discussion to the end of the activity.

» What is the key message underlying the activity?
» What actions can students take to care for their patch of this precious Earth: ...as individuals, as a class and school, with their families, in their community?
» Compare apples and Earth to introduce the concepts of sustainability, without using the word (which is so difficult to define). Produce concept maps based on discussion.
» Introduce topics or themes around natural resource management, agriculture, farming and food production in Victoria / specific region, feeding the world, landcare and environmental management.
» Use as a prompt or example for students to produce a game or puzzle or poster or other means of delivering a similar message.

Use of our natural resources to produce food and fibre is essential. Careful management of the environment through improved knowledge and technologies in agriculture is necessary to ensure we will always have those natural resources to use without causing environmental damage, such as loss of biodiversity and declining health of rivers.

There are numerous and diverse resources on themes about natural resource management. The following list focuses on sustainable agriculture and land management.
» LandLearn provides curriculum resources and support for schools on the themes and topics addressing sustainable agriculture. See the LandLearn newsletter (an online newsletter) for further information about LandLearn resources and visit the website http://www.landlearn.net.au
» Departments of Primary Industries and Department of Sustainability and Environment websites provide access to a diverse range of resources, including other education programs.
http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au - select Science, Research & Development, then Education OR
http://www.dse.vic.gov.au - select Coasts & Marine or Plants & Animals, then Education.
» http://www.environment.vic.gov.au - A Gateway to informative sites about Victoria's environment, natural resource management and associated issues. It includes links to sites covering a wide range of topics.
» http://www.science.org.au/aashome.htm - Select Science Education to go to NOVA page, then type Sustainable Agriculture in the Search option (at bottom of page) for articles and resources suited to upper secondary.
» http://www.museum.vic.gov.au/futureharvest/index.html - Visit some farms in country Victoria via the case studies on this website about agriculture and landcare.
» http://www.global.rmit.edu.au/ - Consider how much of our natural resources you use. Visit this site for an "ecological footprint" quiz to extend the discussion prompted by use of Comparing Apples and Earth.
» http://www.freshforkids.com.au - You can learn a lot about farming, processing and eating fruit and vegetables on the Sydney Markets site for students.

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