Our Place in the World

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Devotional: Our Place in the World

Make your ways known to me, Lord; teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; I wait for you all day long.

Psalm 25:4–5

Spend enough time outdoors, and eventually you will see a flock of geese migrating south for the winter. How do they know when it’s time to move, and when they do, how do they know the way to go? This is something that scientists are still working to understand. Some theorize that they use the stars, landmarks, or even the Earth’s magnetic field to help them find their way. Others chalk it up to “instinct,” which is another way of saying that God programmed them to know which way to go.

In a way, God programmed us to know which way to go as well. It may not be as natural for us to find our way in a forest as it is for a bird, but we do have the ability to find our way in the world. God has written His word on our hearts so that we can instinctually determine right from wrong, and in areas where we might be confused as to the right path, He gave us His Word and His Spirit to guide us.

Similarly, He gave us the creatures of Creation to help us learn how to use the provision of Creation. These creatures of the Earth spend much more time in Creation than we do, so studying them gives us some insights into how God intended for us to use Creation.

Pray

Dear Lord, please open our minds to the lessons your Creation has to offer, and please watch over us as we explore. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Land Biomes

Question

What kind of biome do you live in?

Research

“Biome” is the word scientists use to describe a land area that has a specific type of plants and animals living in it. NASA lists seven major types of biomes that can be further divided into smaller, more specific biomes. Sometimes there can even be more than one biome (called “microbiomes”) in your own yard or park. What makes a biome a biome is the plants and animals or insects that are found in each.

Hypothesis

What kind of biome do you live in?

Experiment

Materials

  • A clear jar or bag for samples

Procedure

Go out to a park or other natural area and look at what kinds of trees and plants are found there. What kinds of animals would you expect to find there? Collect samples of the plants and create a mini biome to take home. Start with some dirt at the bottom, and top with samples of plants you find. Compare with the biome descriptions in the Analysis to determine the type of biome.

Analysis

  • Grassland: Grassy with few trees.
  • Desert: Very dry with little to no plants.
  • Shrubland: Dry area with short bushes.
  • Tundra: Few trees, often with snow.
  • Deciduous forest: Trees with leaves that change color and fall off in autumn.
  • Coniferous forest: Trees with needles that stay green all year.
  • Rainforest: Palm trees, vines, and rain.

Conclusion

Were you able to determine your biome? Were there multiple biomes in the location you visited?

Lights for Signs

Question

How did people figure out what direction they were going before there were modern compasses and maps?

Research

Ancient people spent much more time outdoors than people do today, and this helped them to be in tune with the natural signs that would help them find their way. The most important of these signs were the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Hypothesis

Can you figure out what direction you are facing without using a compass?

Experiment

Materials

  • A compass (to check if you are correct)

Procedure

Stand outside on a sunny day and face any direction. See if you can determine what direction you are facing using the following clues:

  • The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This means in the morning, the sun will be in the east, and in the afternoon and evening, it will be in the west.
  • At noon, when the sun is the highest in the sky, it will be on the southern part of the sky.
  • If there is a crescent moon out, you can draw an imaginary line from the top horn to the bottom horn, then extend that line to the horizon to find which direction is south.

Note: These clues are only true if you are north of the equator.

Analysis and Conclusion

Use your compass to see if you guessed correctly. For an added challenge, try this experiment again at night using the stars as your guide. Find the North Star (Polaris) by drawing a line up from the front two stars on the Big Dipper’s “cup.” The North Star will always be directly north.

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