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EcoKids Report #18

Population, Seeds & Footprint March 13, 1999

March 13, we met at the GED room at the Dream Center. We thinned and watered our plants. Ellie Dawson brought in some lima beans that she soaked so the kids could dissect them and see the embryonic plant within.

The EcoKids set up germination observation stations. They took two clear plastic cups of the same size and suspended the seeds between the surfaces of the two cups as they were sleeved together. A piece of paper towel was cut to fit around the outside of the inner cup to hold moisture and also to hold the seeds in place for easy viewing as they sprout. 

For ideas on our own play development, we viewed portions of Brother Bread, Sister Puppet a video of the giant puppet theater group, Bread and Puppet. Our intent is to create a play which we will perform for neighborhood residents at our Earth Day celebrations. (1) 

We also viewed World Population, a video by Zero Population Growth. This short dramatic film shows the population history of the world from 0 AD to about 2030 AD. Each million people is represented by a white dot on a world map. As time progresses the dots appear slowly, at first and then faster as population growth multiplies. The video is an excellent device for making the abstract concept of population growth more tangible. (2) 

Coupled with world population growth we introduced the concept of our ecological footprint. It is a way of understanding how much of the Earth's surface is required to support each person. Each country's footprint is calculated by dividing the land used for all needs by the population of the country. The average US resident uses about 25 acres where the average resident of India uses about two acres. The world average is about seven acres. If everyone on Earth used the same amount of resources as citizens of the US it would take four and two thirds Earths to support us. (3) 

The EcoKids seemed to be interested in the seed study although few completed the project. The adults saved their work for viewing next week. The population video seemed to make them think and slowed their rapidly moving attention some. Their interest seemed to wane with the footprint concept.

Thanks to volunteers Roberta Vogel and Ellie Dawson and to the Forest Avenue YMCA for the use of their TV and VCR. 

1. Brother Bread Sister Puppet, an 80-minute video of the 1988 Bread and Puppet Domestic Resurrection Circus showing pageantry created with giant puppets. Contact Jeff Farber Productions, PO Box 889, Montpelier VT 05602, 802-229-1145. 

2. You can purchase the video at http://www.populationconnection.org/Catalog/Items/item6.html Contact ZPG at 1400 Sixteenth Street, N.W. Suite 320, Washington, D.C. 20036, 202-332-2200, Toll free 1-800-POP-1956, info@zpg.org

3. “Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on Earth” a book by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees puts carrying capacity back on center stage of the international development debate. Also see the web site, Ecological Footprints of Nations 

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