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Upper El (Mr. D): Dyson Spheres

This week we worked hard on our Science Fair Reports and finished our conversation on carrying capacity and the flow of energy.


We made considerable headway on our reports for the Science Fair. They're about halfway done now, and when we get back from break, we'll be in full-swing fair mode to cross the finish line for March 11th. I can't wait for you all to see their projects!

Also, we had our first presenter for Master Class on Thursday! We learned a lot about the Human Heart!


To finish our big discussion on carrying capacity, we walked through a series of steps together. We recalled that consumers ultimately get their energy (food) from producers. Even if consumers are omnivores or carnivores, we can trace that energy back to plants.

Then, we thought about what has to happen for a population of consumers to grow, whether horses or humans. In fact, we used the example of horses in an enclosed area to illustrate the idea. If they only ate grass, and there were ten horses in a field, they'd consume the grass needed. Then, if we chose to expand the population of horses in that area, students concluded that we'd need more grass—more energy from producers.

Next, we asked the question we had never entirely addressed yet. If consumers get their energy from producers, where do the producers get their energy from? They answered quickly: the Sun!

"Ok," I said. "Now imagine that we chose to grow the human population to be as large as possible."

After some discussion and some more questions by me, we eventually arrived at "Mr. D's theory of Capacity"—A population can't exceed the amount of energy captured by the Sun.

This enabled us to talk about Dyson Spheres, theoretical structures that encircle stars to provide power and energy for interplanetary species in the universe.

The rest of this lesson was more reflective for students. I asked two more questions.

If we somehow maxed out the number of people on our planet. If we reached this carrying capacity on Earth, how would that world look? I asked them to describe it like it was the setting of a story. Then, we shared. No one really had anything good to say about that world.

The final question I asked was to think of their own goal for humanity that would lead to a world they would want to live in a hundred years from now.

There were many insightful answers and many different answers to this question. I would have asked for students to share, but without prompting anyone, everyone started coming up to show me their answers one by one. They were proud of their ideas and their visions of the future.

I hope everyone has a nice break, and I look forward to seeing our group when we get back!


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