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Try these
tricks to get
a different perspective
on natural environments

The world is one large environment, with smaller environments within it.
An environment is anything that surrounds something else. A drop
of pond water is a very small environment in the larger environment of the pond, which is
in the much larger environment of the world. Other examples of environments include a flower pot, a tree,
a city block, a campground, a river, and a country.

The way you define an environment at any given time depends on your perspective, attitude, interests, and needs. Different people perceiving environments differently is one cause of pollution. For example, polluters might not worry about contaminating a stream because they don't get their drinking water from the stream; they don't see the stream as a part of their environment. Perhaps one solution to our environmental problems is to encourage people to see as many perspectives as possible.

What is the smallest environment you can think of? The largest? The darkest? The highest? The noisiest? The wettest? Can one environment be seen in many ways?

Try to see things differently. Pass around a natural object. As each person receives the object, he or she must describe it in one or two sentences. Each person must describe the object differently from the people before him or her. Some people might look at the object from different angles. Others might talk about its color, shape, smell, texture, or sound. Yet others might describe the object's role in the world or how it might feel if it had feelings.

Try different perspectives. Each person stands, sits, or lies in a different position or at a different angle to some natural object (e.g. stump, tree, large rock). People must then describe what the object looks like from their vantage point. How does the object look from different sides? From ground level? From a higher perspective? From far away? From very close up? People should rotate positions to get as many perspectives as possible.

Now try a really different perspective. Hold a mirror at waist level and walk around to examine the environment. What do you see in the mirror? How much of the environment can you see at one time? Do things seem different than normal? Why and how?

Finally, pretend you're an ant. Lie down, face up, in tall grass or anywhere that the ground vegetation surrounds your body. Shut your eyes. Imagine that your fingers are an ant crawling across the ground. Feel along the ground with your fingers. Stretch out your arms and probe with your hands. Now open your eyes. Look up at people looking down at you. Turn your head to the side and peer out through the vegetation at ground level. How is an ant's environment different from yours?

What you see really depends on how you look at something.

© SV Bosak, www.legacyproject.org

Science Is...

From Science Is...: A Source Book of Fascinating Facts, Projects and Activities by Susan V. Bosak. This classic bestseller is easy to use and filled with hundreds of tested activities and experiments in all areas of science, including the environment. Click here to find out more and get online ordering info for Science Is....


Small, natural objects
  (e.g. pine cone,
  snail shell, feather)
Small mirrors


Schools (science –
  perspective; art)
Youth groups


Science Is...