Saturday, March 30, 2013

A piece of wood

Tell me the story of a piece of wood. How did it come to be?

How did it get to Home Depot? What was it before that?

How did it get to the spot where it grew? Was a squirrel involved?

How many years did it grow?
How deep were its roots?
What sits there now?

Where did the stuff of the wood come from?
What was the carbon dioxide part of before it became part of a tree?
Did it come from an animal's breath? Did it come from yours?
What cell did it come from? Does every tree in our woods hold CO2 from the heart of a bear?
Did the bear's exhaled breath freeing the CO2 fog up the chilly December air?

And what did that bear eat, the stuff broken into CO2 and water?
And how far back can any of us imagine?

Right now the sun is shining on me, energy released as protons lose tiny tufts of mass.
What forces pushed protons together to form helium and release this light?
What forces pushed protons together to form carbon, to form oxygen?
Where was the carbon before it was on Earth?
Hold old is the soul of a carbon atom in one of the neurons firing that allow you to read these words?

Tell me the story of a piece of wood, and I will tell you the story of our universe.

A child could spend a lifetime piecing together the story of a piece of wood, which is, when you get down to it, the story of all of us.


Susan Eckert said...

This is a beautiful post. There is only one way to teach science--whether it's photosynthesis, bone markings, gametogensis or the periodic table--and that is with wonder and awe. I think it's lacking in many science classrooms. But it's what students, anyone really, responds to.

Once they start to get what all those diagrams in ecology with the arrows pointing in circles really mean, they see everything differently. (So much beauty in those cycles.) You can see it in their faces. It's fantastic.

This is truly a wonderful post.

doyle said...

Dear Susan,

Thank you--I am thinking of changing over my whole approach next year, having the students pick something, anything, alive, and follow where it leads.

We'll see--the Next Gen Sci Standards and the PARCC test may kill these dreams....

Susan Eckert said...

It sounds like a fine plan. I would think you could actually use that approach to teach the standards, no?

Project-based learning that involves a little more meat than making a pretty poster or cell out of styrofoam.

Barbara said...

Oh, how truly beautiful. I just put a number of split logs in the wood stove and set a match to it and then sat down to read your blog. The bear's breath is warming my feet as I type.
Perfect timing. Thank you.

doyle said...

Dear Barbara,

Thank you for the warm words. Now pray for sunshine June 8th!