Friday, 24 March 2017

Our March 4 workshop: Body measurement from soil to sky -- math and astronomy in the garden

We had a great workshop on March 4 -- the rescheduled time for our snowed-out Feb. 4 date.

We used a chant with gestures to orient ourselves, facing southwards (something that might work well with school classes in the garden outdoors):
Here I stand beneath the sky
On the compass rose stand I.
My left hand points to the start of day,
My right hand points to where the sun goes away.
My back is to the cold north star,
My face looks south, where the warm winds are.
North, south, east, west --
Where I stand, I am at rest.

Then we used the great activity designed by former Orchard Garden team member, astrophysicist
 BenoĆ®te Pfeiffer, to track the path of the sun on both the summer and winter solstices, using our hands to measure angle of elevation and our arms and whole bodies to sweep out the path the sun takes from sunrise to sunset.

We worked out ways to measure garden beds using our hands, feet and stride, and then used the measurements on seed packets to plant beds of early vegetables: radishes, peas and spinach.

We also planted nettles on the far side of Totem Field, with John Ames' help. Nettles are used around the world as a spring-harvested tonic vegetable (and tea), and an autumn-harvested fibre plant for making thread and cloth.

Our final activity in the garden was making and hanging up 6-month pinhole cameras to track the path of the sun, an activity and art form we learned from visiting mathematical artist Nick Sayers. Six cameras were made, in three pairs: one of each pair to be taken down at the Summer Solstice, and the other to stay up till next Winter Solstice. We can compare the results from each pair of side-by-side juice can pinhole cameras!

Lunch back at Scarfe included kale chips and roasted brussel sprouts from veggies we harvested in the garden, along with a delicious butternut squash/ coconut Thai curry soup, lots of bread from Terra Bread's generous donation, and cheese, humus and fruit. A great day, with lots of learning about body measurement, math and astronomy in the garden!

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