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Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. -Albert Einstein

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.- Rachel Carson

We live in a designed world- Nature’s and our own. Life on Earth evolved over 4.6 billion years into the complex systems and cycles that support our life and all life on Earth today. Our planet and its life forms are all made of the stuff of stars- all of Nature and us, too! What is our oldest relative? Did plants or animals come first? What came before humans? When DID people arrive? Today scientists study the interaction between our atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere, looking for the [biodiversity]( of life as it exists in the air, on land, and in the waters and continues to evolve. In this journey, you will explore different definitions of Nature- your Nature, the Nature of a place, the Nature of a culture, and even the Nature in space are all connected.

E.O. Wilson, Founder of the Half-Earth Foundation, coined the term “Consilience”. Consilience means… everything is connected. Think about it!

Activity 1 – What is Nature?

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What is nature? One definition of nature is the character or personality of a person, place, or thing! It could be you, your parents, your friends, or even someone you do not know. It could be a place that is full of biodiversity of life- human and non-human. The Nature of a person place or thing is unique to each person and differs in different cultures and places on earth. Human nature refers to one’s temperament, disposition, aptitude, interests, etc. Are humans part of nature? Of course! Humans have evolved over tens of thousands of years, from prehuman nature, evolving over billions of years.
Another definition of nature is Nature is life on earth before humans arrived. In all of its beauty and diversity, Nature evolved over billions of years. Prehuman nature on earth collectively includes flora (plants) and fauna (animals) and all the organisms and systems on land and water and in the air and the solar system that exist.

This journey is about the world that humans inherited and evolved from and the gifts that it offers to people to survive and thrive. How do YOU define Nature?

Draw a picture, write a poem. How do you define Nature?

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. William Shakespeare

Activity 2 – EARTHCLOCK

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You did not choose where and when you were born. But you arrived someplace at some time into a much older world than you. How much older, you might ask. Well, scientists suggest about 4.54 billion years give or take 50 million. Look at NATGEO Age of Earth. Our planet and its forms of life, and nonliving, are all made of the stuff of stars- all of Nature and us, too! Watch theEvolution of Life in 60 Seconds and see periods of activity and inactivity in the generation of Earth as you find it today. What is our oldest relative? Did plants or animals come first? What came before humans? When did people arrive? Use the Evolution of Life Earth Clock Worksheet Set to see the different eras and to discover how new human beings are to this planet we live on. From elements exploding out of the stars to the creation of molecules, multi-cellular organisms, first in the water, then on the land, life forms evolve and exist. Through extinctions of species and changes in global climate, your presence today is nothing short of a miracle. Explore the Interactive World Map through the past millennium to learn about when different life forms appeared in the city you live in now! Treasure it as such!

And congratulations. You are here!

Activity 3 – Nature's Appeal

E.O. Wilson was fascinated by ants as a child. Johnny Appleseed was interested in trees. Jane Goodall was interested in gorillas. Some of us like to collect shells. Others collect rocks. Some people want to look at clouds. Others like to watch birds. Some children are interested in horses; others are interested in flowers. What living thing interests you? Look at the Encyclopedia of Life to explore the amazing creatures that share this Earth with us. The gifts of sunlight, night and day, seasons, and ever-changing weather support our life on Earth. Connecting to non-human life expands our understanding and appreciation of the many interdependent relationships of our world. Nature gives us biodiversity of life- animals, plants, land life, ocean life, energy from sunrises, and star-filled night skies. From the chirping birds to the shooting stars, the white-capped waves, to the glowing light, there is magic in motion everywhere you look, which is Nature. Open your eyes and ears to the natural world we inherited. You and I are responsible for caretaking and conserving this planet we call home.

Make a poster about things in Nature that are important to you.

Activity 4 – Nature's Cycles

Nature offers us processes and events that people do not design. For example, Nature created life cycles, or the process by which things produce, multiply, evolve, and adapt. The gifts of sunlight, night and day, seasons, and ever-changing weather support life on Earth. Nature’s cycles are complex processes created over millions of years of evolution and adaptation, during which elements and life forms move through different states and spheres of living and non-living materials on Earth, in oceans, and the atmosphere. Critical Cycles include the Water Cycle, the Carbon Cycle, the Nutrient Cycle (Phosphorous and Nitrogen), and the Rock Cycle. These cycles are interconnected ecosystems that connect the four spheres- Atmosphere (atmos means air), Geosphere (geo means ground), the Hydrosphere(hydro means water), and the Biosphere (Bio means life).

Look outside. Sketch the biome where you live including plants, insects, and animals. Label the four interactive spheres that provide life on Earth.

Activity 5 – Look in!

You might be surprised to learn that more of what supports your life on Earth is invisible to you. It is invisible. The human eye only sees 0.0035% of the electromagnetic spectrum! Yet, as humans, we depend on our sight to navigate the world. The invention of the microscope opened our eyes and imaginations to things that we could not see or understand with our naked eyes. Yet there is even more that is not even visible via a microscope. Step outside. Look down at grass, plants, and the soil. You may be surprised to learn that beneath your feet lies Fungi, which have six times more species than plants! Fungi are spore-producing organisms that feed on top of, in, and underground in soil on organic matter and decompose it, connecting to almost everything living on Earth! Fungi inject tiny spores into the Earth to grow their food to consume. Fungi are essential to our life on Earth. In addition, if we look at the biodiversity of life on earth that humans have discovered, insects make up the largest percentage! Look at’s Atoms, Microbes, Insects, and Soil, and expand understanding of many other life forms that keep us alive!

Draw and label at least five things that Nature delivers to us that we cannot see with our eyes.

Activity 6 – Look beyond!

Activity 7 – Nature vs. Human Design

We live on the Earth within Nature’s ecosystems- water, air, energy, and food. These systems produce, consume, and decompose to make way for new life. Nature offers a circular metabolism of birth and emergence, growth and service, and lifecycles through death to decomposition and renewed life. Today, most production by human life is not circular. It is linear. Watch the Story of Stuff to begin to see linear systems humans have created that are not sustainable. What people produce by and large does not decompose yet collects waste in our landfills, and our oceans. The process of extraction, production, and transportation of human-made goods, by and large, does not renew depleted materials; the methods disturb Nature’s circular metabolism and reduce the biodiversity of life into single purposes such as industrialized farming of one plant over large acreage or the building of highways that move our goods, but separate natural areas and bifurcate neighborhoods. It is vital for people to learn from the past and to improve how we create products, habitats, food, and energy.

Print out the Built Environment and Nature Bingo cards and draw what is around you from both the **Natural and the Built Environments.

Activity 8 – Nature Draw A Long

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Take some time to capture a scene in nature that you can visit. You can sit in nature and look, listen, touch, smell, etc. Using’s NATURE Journaling document what you observe, see, hear, feel, and touch. Or you can take the time to draw what you see, paint what you see, and capture what you see. Get some pencils and some colored markers. Draw A long with this scene, capture the forms and textures, colors, and light.

Become a nature artist! Upload your journal pages to the gallery!


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