Rio Vista – Greenhouse Gas Dance

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Hello Garden Friends,

Today was unseasonably hot, Just about 90 degrees in North Hollywood. I had prepared a lesson about saving and germinating citrus seeds for the students, but I thought I needed to say something about this weather – so we danced.

The lesson starts by talking about the balance of breath between a tree and a human. We breathe out CO2 and trees breathe it in – Trees breathe out Oxygen and we breathe it in. What are other sources of C02? What kinds of gases hold in heat and what is the effect of too many cars on the road when we think about air and temperature? These questions are not easy to answer when you are a second grader so I taught them a dance to illustrate the concept.

The dance has 4 roles. A lone student, The earth, stands in the middle of a circle of other students who represent gases. The gases link together and form the atmosphere. I count the students off so that some of them are oxygen, some CO2, and others water. Outside the circle is another student, The Sun. He/She stands with sunrays and directs them through the atmosphere and towards the earth. The sunrays bounce off the earth and try and leave back through the arms of the linked gases. If the gas is oxygen, the student will drop their hands and allow the sunray to pass. If the gas is CO2 or water the sunray is sent back to earth to warm it up again. Afterwards we talk, “Is the earth warmer or cooler with more CO2?” “What can we do to reduce the amount of CO2 in the air?”

The kids came up with two solutions: drive less, and plant trees. What a beautiful transition to teaching about starting seeds! I only got to teach both activities to one class; the dance takes a while for the students to comprehend. So to compensate, I just showed the students that the trick with most tree seeds is to remove the seed coat and keep the seed moist in a wet paper towel sealed in a plastic bag. I hope that by the next class my seeds will germinate and show the students proof of concept.

Until then, grow on!
-Jeff Mailes

EnrichLA Team

Proudly inherited my green thumb and love of gardening, growing & eating vegetables from my mama, a landscape architect, my grandmother & great grandfather all from Savannah, Georgia. My mama said she designed gardens to make the world a peaceful, beautiful place to sit and day dream or picnic and take a nap. Planting edible gardens with children is a joyful experience. Watching children explore, learn & grow while seedlings germinate reaching for the sky reassures me the earth is in good hands for future generations. My little girl Maya, LOVES to eat green veggies including kale, chard, spinach, bok choi and lettuce. Thank Goodness for Gardens.

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