Grade 4: Eco-assignments
Our world has become a safer place over the centuries as we learned how to safeguard ourselves from certain threats from the natural world. As humans we have proved our dominance over the natural world and altered it serve our purposes. We have tamed and domesticated animals; we have cultivated fruit, vegetables and grain to supply in our nutritional needs; and we have built houses and towns where we can move about safely; and we are still inventing countless machines and medicines. Indeed we have conquered the world.
We soon realised that land is not infinite and that it would best serve us if we dedicate land for certain purposes. First natural areas were cleared to be used for agriculture or for keeping live stock on. Then land was set aside to build a number of houses on and towns and cities developed. The people in the cities earned their keep by producing useful items, but once they started to produce these items in mass for huge amounts of people, factories were built. The smoke that was created by these factories was not good for the people in the town and therefore land outside the towns and cities were set aside for this. People were able to live very healthy lives as farmers supplied much food and new medicines were able to cure many ailments.
But as our population grew our footprint became bigger and our natural enemies fewer and as a result the natural world and its systems has started to suffer. The continued survival of many species of animals and birds, reptiles and bugs and even plants came under threat as their natural habitat was altered by humans who purposed it for agriculture, mining or industry. Adding to the threat of increasing habitat destruction, the technologies that humans have developed to exploit the resources of the earth was polluting the natural world. Waste products ware pumped into rivers and dams poisoning the fish, animals and birds that used to live there. The air was polluted with smoke from the many factories, motor car vehicles and power generating stations.
Now that we as human-kind have gained control over the natural world, we need to find ways to manage it with care so that degradation of the natural world will not happen. We are dependent on the natural world for survival. In the natural world resources are not limited and if the quality of those resources goes down we will eventually suffer too.
1) From a variety of photos or pictures (depicting various dwellings, clothing, vehicles and infrastructure…), distinguish if they were taken from a rural or urban area or farming community.
2) From a variety of photos or pictures depicting different types of settlements distinguish between services or resources.
3) Explain the differences between commercial farming and subsistence farming and give reasons why farming could be detrimental to the environment, for example huge-scale ploughing of land (erosion), use if chemicals and fertilizers are used as opposed to organic farming.
4) Mention the food products that are produced where you live and which food products has to be transported from far. How does this affect the price of products? What effects does it have on the environment?
5) Give examples of reckless behaviour towards water and food
1) The national animal of South Africa is the Springbuck, the national bird is the Blue crane and the national flower is the King Protea (Protea Cynaroides). Are their any environmental symbols used in your school or region? What do they represent?
2) With the help of before and after pictures of a town or city in the area, explain how the landscape has changed. For example how the streets looked before trees were planted; or before a shopping mall was erected… Explain whether that was for the better or worse.
E.g. environmental symbols that were and are still in use to represent culture and practices of the area.
1) If there were no animals on earth, would plants be able to survive?
* Explain where plants get their energy to grow from.
* Explain why animals need plants in order to have energy to do things and in order to grow.
2) Water is not always in liquid form, but it could also be in a solid state like an ice cube or in a gaseous state like the water vapour from a boiling kettle. Discus where in nature one could find water as it presents itself in each of these three different states.
1) Explain that not standards of living but rather personal values cause people to act responsibly or irresponsibly towards the environment.
2) Explain how health and safety hazards are being created when the environment (water, air and land) is polluted.
3) Discuss how individual and community efforts could help creating a healthier neighbourhood.
4) Question members from your community whether they would be eager to save on their water bill by utilizing rain water for some water requirements in and around the house.
5) Research the possibility of providing water to your community by means of rain-collection tanks. Are they manufactured near your community and at what cost?
Investigate how one could build your own water reservoir from brick and cement to supply the household with water. List the extra requirements like gutters around the roof of the house, a water tank above the roof of the house, pipes leading to the taps in the house and a manual pump.
Find out where you could purchase the individual items and at which price. Compare costs, makes and shapes and colours…
Consider one big reservoir to be shared between four houses. Divide the cost between the four families to see whether it would be more viable.