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ENGINEERING NATURE

In this unit study, learners will:

  • Understand the ecological significance of wildlife corridors, artificial reefs, and rain gardens in enhancing habitat connectivity, marine biodiversity, and urban green infrastructure.

  • Explore the scientific principles and engineering techniques used in designing, constructing, and maintaining these habitat enhancement projects.

  • Analyze the socio-economic, environmental, and cultural implications of habitat enhancement interventions on local ecosystems and communities.

  • Engage in hands-on activities to design, build, and monitor wildlife corridors, artificial reefs, and rain gardens, fostering practical skills and environmental stewardship.

  • Investigate case studies and real-world examples of successful habitat enhancement projects, identifying best practices and lessons learned.

  • Reflect on personal values, attitudes, and responsibilities towards biodiversity conservation and habitat preservation in a changing world.

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Day 1: Wildlife Corridors

History Makers Society Session:

  • Learn about the Banff Wildlife Crossings Project in Canada, including how it began in the late 1980s to address the high number of wildlife-vehicle collisions. Study its impact on reducing animal fatalities and promoting safe passage for species like bears, elk, and wolves.

 

Science Exploration Session:​

  • Understand how wildlife corridors and eco-ducts mitigate habitat fragmentation and enable safe animal crossings.

  • Learners will explore habitat fragmentation by first drawing a continuous, unfragmented habitat such as a forest, grassland, or any natural ecosystem. They will then use cutouts to represent buildings, roads, and agricultural fields, dividing their initial habitat into smaller, isolated patches. Additionally, they will add yarn to simulate fences and roads, further fragmenting the habitat.

 

Art Project Session:

  • Learn about Robert Bateman, whose art focuses on wildlife and natural habitats, emphasizing the importance of conservation.

  • Create detailed paintings, highlighting the animals and their connected habitats.

Day 2: Artificial Reefs

History Makers Society Session:

  • Study Jacques Cousteau's work, including his exploration of marine environments and advocacy for artificial reefs to restore damaged ecosystems and enhance marine biodiversity.

Science Exploration Session:​

  • Discuss how their engineered reefs create new habitats for animals to reproduce, algae to grow, attract fish, invertebrates, and other marine organisms, forming complex food webs and supporting healthy populations, help stabilize sediment and mitigate the impacts of storms, hurricanes, and coastal erosion, and more.

  • Build Mini Artificial Reefs using small PVC pipes, aquarium rocks, glue, sand and a container filled with water, students will be given a algae (Marimo) ball to take home, giving a natural opportunity to talk about photosynthesis. 

Art Project Session:

 

  • Study Wyland's murals, which focus on marine life and conservation, promoting awareness of ocean ecosystems.

  • Underwater Ecosystem Collages

Day 3: Rain Gardens

History Makers Society Session:

  • Explore the Green Streets Program, which integrates rain gardens into urban infrastructure to manage stormwater, reduce pollution, and create green spaces.

 

Science Exploration Session:​

  • Learn how rain gardens manage stormwater, improve water quality, and support local wildlife.

  • Plan and design a small-scale rain garden, considering the layout and choice of native plants, observing how it absorbs and filters runoff, mimicking how rain gardens function in urban areas. 
     

Art Project Session:

  • Study Andy Goldsworthy’s nature-inspired art, focusing on his use of natural materials and his temporary installations that highlight the beauty of the natural world.

  • Nature-Inspired Installations - Learners will gather leaves, sticks, stones, flowers, and arrange the materials into temporary art installations. They will be invited to take photographs or sketch their installations, capturing their beauty and impermanence. 

    

The above topics provide a general scope for our unit study, serving as a foundation for our exploration of Engineering Nature. However, we aim to foster a broader learning experience by empowering learners to choose their own paths of research and project-based learning. By encouraging individual interests and inquiries, we enhance engagement and encourage deeper exploration of the diverse aspects of nature. Throughout the unit study learners will have the opportunity to explore additional activities within the topic in a way that is most comfortable and engaging for them.

*Curriculum developed by Raising Brain, LLC

FOR THIS WEEK LEARNERS WILL NEED TO BRING: 

*Nothing extra

Raising Brain Flint Hill Virginia Homeschool Co-op Homeschool Enrichment Rappahannock Coun
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