Pondering Nature's Networks with Kids.
Author: Cindi Lou Grant
Hero: Nature skills that will make you, your child’s hero.
In our ever connecting world, our collective understanding of networks seems more innate in children then it was for us growing up. For me, the idea that we are all connected used to feel like more of a philosophical pondering than common sense.
Photo by Annie Spratt
Here in Park City, Utah (where Sawyer is based) beautiful and vast groves of aspens sway in the wind. Aspen trees seem to stand together as individual trees, but in fact they are an interconnected system sharing a hidden network of roots underground.
Professor of ecology, Suzanna Simard, found that not only do interconnected species like aspens communicate within their own root network, but also every plant in an ecosystem is connected through a network of micelle fungus that results in communication among different types of species. Spruce talks to aspen and aspen talks to willow and so on.
Furthermore, the trees also share resources in a complex collaboration. In winter, spruce trees shares carbon with aspen when the aspen's leaves are gone, and aspen trees give carbon to fir trees in the summer. This discovery shattered the commonly held belief that trees compete for resources in Darwinian style survival of the fittest.
Photo by Les Anderson
The connection in the forest is further reaching then I realized before. It is an inter-collaborating natural utopia! The whole of it is made up of smaller parts that live in balance by both receiving and giving. Fascinated with the idea of connected and collaborating forests, I'm highly encouraging parents to take their kids into nature. Explaining these discoveries of connection in a way that helps them experience it.
Even beyond what is happening underground, we could incorporate ourselves and our kids into the forest's network. One very simple exercise could simply be breathing. We breathe in the oxygen that the trees give and we breathe out carbon that the trees receive.
Fostering that sense of wonderment that comes so organically in kids is our mission at Sawyer, and we hope they take these skills into a life full of exploring. Give it a try and when you're done, let us know what your kids thought with the share button below.