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"SPICE" (Children's Ecology)
KIDS SURVIVAL TRAINING! WHY?
"SPICE" is an acronym which stands for five simple but very BIG ideas. Don't let the big words scare you. They are really simple to understand and use.
"Pink Hat," I know you love having adventures more than anything but did you know that I have a great adventure everytime I take a walk?"
"How do you do that? A walk is just a way to get exercise," said Pink Hat.
"I take SPICE with me. SPICE helps me see so much more," replied Nanny Pat.
"What's SPICE? Show me what you mean," said Pink Hat.
"Nanny said, "SPICE is a short way to remember ten, simple but very BIG ideas. These ideas help us to understand how our planet works.
The first letter (S) stands for VARIETY AND SIMILARITY. That means our Earth has many examples of likenesses and differences. As I walk, I look at ways things in nature are alike and ways they are different. On every walk I see things I had not seen before."
Nanny continued, "See those curlews, sandpipers and seagulls at the shoreline? They are all birds. They all need to eat to live. But each one is different than the other. Just look at their beaks. They all have beaks but each is different. Each beak was designed to help that bird get food. Watch the seagulls. See, they are grabbing the tiny, shelled animals brought in by the ocean water. They have to hurry because these little creatures burrow into the sand very quickly to hide. They want to go back to sea. They do not want to be eaten." Sometimes we have to hid too in order to be safe during a disaster.
"I know you were upset about the seagulls bad manners earlier," said Nanny. Seagulls have not always had such bad manners. It began when people cleaned the fish they had caught and threw the parts they did not want away. The seagulls fought over this FREE food. It became worse as people left "junk food" on the beach. After a time, the seagulls did not want to work to get their food. They wanted FREE food.They fought over it. This is why seagulls act as they do. Notice the seagulls feeding at the shoreline, are WORKING for their food and they are not acting up."
Pink Hat smiled. She wiggled just a little to show her pleasure. "You know Nanny, if I am lucky, I just might have those nice, hardworking, seagulls in our "Seagull Dance Class" tomorrow!"
Nanny laughed. "Yes, Pink Hat, that would be great. Now, lets get on with your lesson. The (P) in SPICE stands for PATTERNS. That is an easy one to find here on the beach. Look at the ripples in places where the ocean water moves slowly. Look at the ripples in the sand. The wind and the water helped make those beautiful patterns."
"Nanny," said Pink Hat, Let's go collect some seashells." And off they went. After cleaning them, they began to group them by color, by shape, by size, by texture, and then Pink Hat said, "Look, I grouped mine by patterns on the back of the shells. That's my favorite way to group them." As she worked, she was quiet, she was busy, she was seeing Earth's creatures in a new way.
As they moved on down the beach Nanny stopped. "This is the perfect place for the (I) in SPICE. The (I) stands for INTERACTION AND INTERDEPENDENCE.
The sand dunes are hills of sand which keep the ocean water from wearing away the beach sand. Notice there are plants growing there. The sand provides the minerals the plants need. Rain provides the water. We give off carbon dioxide to them, they give us oxygen in return, and with these things and the help of sunlight, green plants make food for all of us. The plants hold the sand in place. And, green plants are the only living things that can MAKE FOOD. So, you see, we are all dependent on them for food and for oxygen to breathe. They help cool the Earth as well. INTERACTION AND INTERDEPENDENCE ARE AT WORK HERE!"
"See those beautiful shrubs up ahead. They have bell-shaped white flowers. The flowers have nectar, food for the yucca moth. The yucca moth sticks its long mouth down to get the nectar and in doing so some of the pollen sticks to its body. As it goes from flower to flower some of the pollen falls off in the flower and some more sticks to the moth. In this way the yucca plant is pollinated so it can make seeds to make more yucca plants. Meanwhile, the yucca moth lays its eggs inside the flowers where they are safe until they hatch and begin to feed on the nectar and the flower. So there you have INTERACTION AND INTERDEPENDENCE. It is said that the only insect that pollinates the yucca plant is the yucca moth!"
"Wow," said Pink Hat, "I love that plan. This is such fun! What's the next letter?"
"The next letter in SPICE is (C) which stands for CHANGE. Signs of change are everywhere because every living and non-living thing on earth is always changing. Wind, water, and sunlight bring changes to Earth. In places where there are four seasons: summer, fall, winter, spring, the changes of the seasons bring changes that are very easy to see. Many people think us humans have caused dangerous changes in the way our Earth works."
"Is that why everyone is talking about saving energy and "going green?" said Pink Hat.
"Yes Pink Hat," said Nanny, our planet is in trouble and it needs all of us to help."
"I want to help. What do I do?" said Pink Hat.
"There's a Hat's Convention in town working on ways to help. We can go there after lunch. Now the last letter (E) stands for ADAPTATION AND EVOLUTION. Remember the butterflies and the yucca moth. Both have special mouths which are adapted to reach way down deep inside the flower like a soda straw. These mouths are adaptations to help them get food. The snowshoe hare is a rodent that lives in the mountains where there is lots of snow. In the winter, its fur turns white like the snow. This helps it to hide. In the spring its fur turns brown to blend in with its summer home. This ADAPTATION helps it to survive and over a long period of time when the baby hares all do the same thing we say that EVOLUTION has happened."
"Hey Pink Hat, look at all those little fish swimming together in a large group. Have you ever wondered why they don't bump into each other? Staying in a large group is how they survive. The groups are called "schools." I guess you could say they learned to do this by "schooling". Nanny Pat laughed. Human kids today learn school rules which they are supposed to follow." Pink Hat laughed.
"Nanny Pat," said Pink Hat, "Sometimes you are silly. It must be time for you to eat lunch. Let's go meet Poppy at the Seafood Shack." And off they went finishing up their "great adventure" SPICE walk.
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