This activity combines student learning from the principles Cycling and Recycling with the added perspective that All Life Transforms.
Students select one atom that is now part of their bodies, and imagine its travels through time, then either write, graphic story, or storyboard that atom's travels.
Note: Teachers may want to visit Chapter 3 of Yearning to Be Round, “Meet Your Birth Mother.”
The matter of Earth, it’s substance, its atmosphere, its rocks, its water goes through incredible transformations over vast stretches of time.
Below is the kind of story students are asked to imagine, and turn into a graphic story, or skit (drama), or a written story.
Five billion years ago, a star exploded and a tiny speck of carbon called an atom was created. Let’s call this incredibly small carbon atom Big C, or BC. A tiny alga called a diatom took BC and other carbon atoms out of the ocean water and made itself a shell.
When the diatom died, it fell to the bottom of the ocean with billions of other diatom shells. All those shells were squeezed together for millions of years by the weight of new sediments (like mud and sand), and eventually transformed into limestone.
Over time, as the continents emerged from the seas, that speck of limestone that was once BC was raised up onto dry land. It rained for a long time, a hundred thousand years or so, and the rock that BC was in, dissolved in the rainwater and was washed into a lake.
One day, a big fish drank the BC-speck and transformed it into fishbone.
Then the fish was eaten by an otter and the otter died of old age one day, and BC washed into the soil. A rootlet of grass sucked BC up onto its sap. A giant mammoth ate the grass blade BC was in …and…and eventually BC-atom ended up in the retina of my left eye..
Discus: Virtually all the atoms on Earth here now have been here since Earth was formed.
The interesting thing about that fact is that the atoms our bodies are right this moment made of have been making a long slow journey down the eons of time.
Our bodies, like the bodies of all life on Earth, are made mostly of just a few chemical elements: Hydrogen, Oxygen, Calcium and Carbon.
Our bodies are made of re-cycled materials that have temporarily belonged to uncounted lives before our selves ate them, drank them or breathed them in and made flesh and blood and bone of them.