Be Like a Tree

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BeLikeATree_PlayPicture

MAIN TOPIC OF VIDEO: A simple poem reveals how buildings can use sustainable technology.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

Frame:

This poem and video will use gentle humor to show how a building can “be like a tree.”

  1. What are some differences between poetry and prose?
  2. How can a building be like a tree? What does a tree do? What does a building do?

Focus:

  1. Watch and listen for the ways that a tree is beneficial to the environment.
  2. Watch and listen for the ways that the building acts like a tree.

Follow-up:

  1. What types of buildings are in your city? Do any of them use “green” technologies that reduce greenhouse gases?
  2. How does using personification affect the tone and meaning of the video and poem?
  3. Can you think of any other examples in which human-made products are made to act in the way nature acts?

ANSWERS TO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

Frame:

This poem and video will use gentle humor to show how a building can “be like a tree.”

  1. What are some differences between poetry and prose? (See excellent resource from “Read, Write, Think” at www.readwritethink.org)
    • Poetry often has end rhyme, but it is not necessary, and often has a form. Often poetry uses language to be more expressive.
    • Prose is written with standard sentence and paragraph structure. Prose generally uses language to be more descriptive or factual.
  2. How can a building be like a tree? What does a tree do? What does a building do?
    • A tree is an important part of the Earth’s many biomes, and serves many functions: (see below for more about trees)
      • Through photosynthesis, it takes CO2 out of the air, and produces sugars and oxygen (which animals need to live)
      • Trees often provide edible fruit, leaves, sap, and bark that animals use for food (energy) or as materials for their survival
      • Trees remove pollutants out of the atmosphere
      • Trees generate no waste in their end of life stage (they decompose naturally)
    • A building can offer many of the same functions as a tree
      • Provide shelter to animals and plants
      • Be stable in weather extremes and earth movements
      • Provide energy to people (if it has solar panels)
      • Has a structure for stability, including a foundation (building) and roots (tree)
      • A building can produce no waste if its systems to produce energy are sustainable (wind or solar powered), if the water used is recollected and treated and they catch rainwater to keep in reservoirs, and if all of the materials used in its construction can be recycled or reused.

Focus:

  • Watch and listen for the ways that a tree is beneficial to the environment.
  • Watch and listen for the ways that the building acts like a tree.

 

 

Poem Discussion Points
GIRL What are you up to, building?

BUILDING Trying to be like a tree.

TREE You wanna be me?

BUILDING ¡Si! Si, I wanna be like a tree. Trees aim to please

Here is where the girl, tree, and building discuss what trees and buildings can provide.
In the rain, in the breeze they make shelter, when it swelters Trees provide shelter from the Sun, wind, and rain. Buildings can also provide awnings, shade, and umbrellas. Additionally, buildings can protect people better than trees in extreme weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes,
Their leaves help us breathe Green leaves produce oxygen through photosynthesis. Buildings cannot produce oxygen themselves, but can help keep their internal atmosphere filtered and oxygenated.
They make food that’s so good you can hardly believe Humans (and other animals) eat fruit that come from trees.
 And get fed when they shed all the leaves that get leaved. They decompose when they goes and help grow brand new trees. When leaves fall off the trees, they decompose and their nutrients return to the soil to grow more plants, including other trees. Decomposers like worms help return the tree’s nutrients back into the ground.
I want to be like a tree because they are the bee’s knees.

GIRL That plan is very rare. How can a building compare?

Trees, like other plants, have evolved over billions of years. Buildings by people have changed too, based on human ingenuity and creativity. Buildings provide shelter, but can also help the environment when special features are developed with the environment in mind.
BUILDING I beg your pardon, see my garden? My hair cleans the air The building’s “hair” is referring to the building’s rooftop trees and other plants which takes CO2, a greenhouse gas, out of the atmosphere and releases oxygen into the atmosphere.
My lots create watts and shade for cars there. Solar panels that are powered by the Sun generate electricity and can shade cars from the Sun.
My drain catches rain so I have some to spare The building’s roof collects water that can be drained into a reservoir.
My lights do it right, LED with no glare The building uses LED (light-emitting diodes), a more efficient lighting technology that reduces waste and energy usage.
From my walls when they fall there is concrete we can share. The building’s materials can be recycled when it is dismantled.
My choosables are reusables should you choose to compare Green buildings can use sustainable materials that can be reused and/or recycled
And I band with the land and my footprint is fair. Green buildings can be built to be carbon neutral, which means that they don’t add to any greenhouse gases or create any pollution
Be a taker from nature; that’s biomimicry. When you design, keep in mind: Try to be like a tree! Designers and builders are using ideas that mimic (copy) natural designs that have evolved.

 

Follow-up:

  1. What types of buildings are in your city? Do any of them use “green” technologies that reduce greenhouse gases?
    • Check out various websites about your city, county, state that address green buildings. Example for San Jose: https://www.sanjoseca.gov/Index.aspx?NID=1517
    • Check out LEED ideas http://www.usgbc.org/home
    • Examine your own school buildings. Do they offer any updated, greener technologies? If so, what are they?
      • Solar
      • Insulation
      • Radiant Heat
      • Recycled water for plants
  2. How does using personification affect the tone and meaning of the video and poem?
    • The video and poem use personification, a figure of speech where human qualities are given to animals, objects or ideas.
    • How would the poem be different if it just showed or described how a building can have some of the same functions as a tree?
      • Having a tree speak for itself might bring the message even closer to students, and help them see the impact trees make in nature.
      • Having a building and tree speak with each other also highlights the decisions designers make to build buildings that add, not subtract, from the Earth and its environment.
    • Find more poems about trees http://www.poemhunter.com/poems/tree/page-1/16350/ and discuss how they use different figures of speech.
    • Compare to factual descriptions of what trees can do. Selected Tree Facts:
      • Trees give us oxygen, clean the air, and filter airborne pollutants.
      • Trees conserve energy. Just three strategically placed trees can decrease utility bills by 50%.
      • Urban trees in the U.S. remove 711,000 tons of air pollution annually, at a value of $3.8 billion.
      • Trees and vegetation can raise property values up to 37%.
      • Trees can reduce annual storm water runoff by 2% – 7%.
      • The net cooling effect of a healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.
      • Trees clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides and other pollutants.
      • Trees shade cars and parking lots, reducing ozone emissions from vehicles.
      • Trees filter airborne pollutants and reduce the conditions that cause asthma and other respiratory problems. http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/units/urban/local-resources/downloads/Tree_Air_Qual.pdf
      • Children and youth living in greener neighborhoods have lower body mass index.
      • Trees reduce noise pollution by absorbing sounds.
      • Urban trees in the U.S. store 700 million tons of carbon valued at $14 billion with an annual carbon sequestration rate of 22.8 million tons per year valued at $460 million annually.
      • Trees provide habitat for hundreds of species. http://actrees.org/resources/about-trees/tree-facts/
  3. Can you think of any other examples in which human-made products are made to act in the way nature acts?
    • Explore “biomimicry” ideas

FURTHER ACTION

  1. Take it further:
    • Write your own poem or story comparing a human-designed structure to a tree
    • Create your own tree that is like a building (like in “Horton Hears a Who”)
    • Research examples of bio-mimicry
    • Design your own building using bio-mimicry concepts
    • Draw a cartoon, make a comic, poster, etc. to show how green buildings function and their benefits.
    • Research the ongoing Bio Mimicry challenges
  2. Learn more about “Green Buildings” Major components include:
    • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
    • Water Efficiency
    • Environmentally Preferable Building Materials and Specifications
    • Waste Reduction
    • Toxic Material Reduction
    • Indoor Air Quality
    • Smart Growth and Sustainable Development https://archive.epa.gov/greenbuilding/web/html/
  3. Additional resources:

Credit: This teacher resource has been adapted from content originally developed by Elizabeth Brooking.

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