Making a labyrinth for planning personal invesigations of biodiversity across the curriculum.

1 To introduce the logic of making action plans to enhance or conserve biodiversity;
2 To use school grounds as an outdoor laboratory for mounting biodiversity projects;
3 To achieve (1) and (2) by creating an action plan to make, maintain and use a grass labyrinth for thinking about biodiversity to develop 'personal ecologies';
4 To extend the action plan logic into the community served by the school to make neighbourhood environmental improvements in line wth the Local Agenda 21 of the Rio 1992 Environment Summit. In particular for schools to help make neighbourhoods that are in a happier balance with nature and people.

1 Personal ecologies

There are many ways in which a curriculum can be successfully delivered in an outdoor environment. In particular, a school's grounds can be employed to encourage young people to experience much more than books and computers, and can enable learning to be undertaken in diverse and new ways. The manner in which a school integrates into the wider community that surrounds it is key to its ultimate success. Starting with using its grounds as an ecological resource, a thriving school can fit cohesively into the community it serves to become a social hub and a valuable focus for local people who wish to make environmental improvements to their neighbourhood. However, the whole extramural activity requires careful planning.

Learning about how to make and operate action plans is a neglected area at all levels of education. Planning is preparing a sequence of action steps, or jobs, to achieve some specific goal. It is a process which involves the determination of future course of action, i.e. why an action, how to take an action, and when to take action are the main subjects of planning. If done effectively, making a plan can reduce the necessary time and effort of achieving the goal. 'Please Walk on the Grass' introduces the use of the logic of planning and recording to organise a group effort to create a grass labyrinth in the school's grounds. Then, individuals use the labyrinth to think about biodiversity across the curriculum and make action plans to investigate a particular expression of biodiversity that has seized their imaginations. This is called creating a personal ecology.

When should this be done?

An adult's attitude to the environment is strongly influenced by their experience as a child. Children who spend time in the outdoors with friends or alone without parental supervision are the most likely to visit and enjoy being out of doors as an adult. These adults are also more likely to describe nature sites as "magical" and are less anxious when visiting them alone. The critical age of influence appears to be before 12yrs. Before this age contact with nature in all its forms, but in particular wild nature, appears to strongly influence a positive behaviour toward the environment. The sense of freedom of unstructured play and thinking that occurs in contact with nature creates a source of independence and inner strength that can be drawn upon during stressful situations for the rest of their life. This has been described as developing a personal ecology resulting from an individual interrelating, interweaving, and interacting with their an environment they have made their own. Education can encourage this by providing opportunities for hands-on experiences of living things and time to think about the meaning of the practical experience. In this context, green labyrinths mirror the human adventure and help put life in perspective.

In summary, ''Please walk on the grass' offers a way of combining these learning needs of environmental education for students to build a personal body of knowledge about biodiversity. The aim is to combine making an action plan for the design and production of a grass labyrinth with the investigation of the ecological impact of its use, and the path of creative discovery that walking it leads to for creating a personal ecology. It is a compendium of ideas and in no way prescriptive.

2 Planning

A plan is like a map. When following a plan, you can always see how much you have progressed towards your project goal and how far you are from your destination. Knowing where you are is essential for making good decisions on where to go or what to do next. One more reason why you need planning is again the 80/20 Rule. It is well established that for unstructured activities 80 percentof the effort give less than 20 percent of the valuable outcome. You either spend muchtime on deciding what to do next, or you are taking many unnecessary, unfocused, and inefficient steps. Making national biodiversity action plans was the aim of the 1992 Environment Summit in Rio. This came down to the local level to promoting the production of local plans in the Agenda 21.

All children and young people should be involved in planning and reflecting on their own learning, through formative assessment, self and peer evaluation and personal learning planning. The process of personal planning for learning includes regular planned discussions that are used to identify and capture evidence of progress and achievements across settings and contexts, with a focus on the skills, knowledge and attributes that the learning experience have generated.

Planning is the intellectual or 'thinking' part of management. It is about recognising the goals that are important and what must be done to reach them. Planning is about sharing this process with others so that agreement can be reached; it is about communication; it is about learning. With few exceptions, planning is recognised as an essential component of all areas of human endeavour: If planning for action is not done and records of what was achieved are not kept, there will be constant changes of intention, methods, etc., because every person who takes over will want to try something different and there will be nothing to stop them. Therefore, the main purpose of action plans is to ensure that there is continuity and stability of effort. Without an effective plan communities are vulnerable to inconsistent management, which can result in a waste of resources and the worsening of problems that prompted management in the first place. Management plans not only bring many benefits to what is being managed but also to the organisations or individuals charged with their management. Importantly, a management plan is not ‘set in stone’. It is always active and subject to changes resulting from monitoring its effectiveness.

Advantages of the adoption of action planning and recording are:
  • information sharing
  • active participation
  • empowerment
  • continuity of effort
  • building a community profile and keeping it up to date.

Making an apple pie

To help understanding the logic of action planning, the analogy of making an apple pie may be used.

(i) The Objective
  • Theobjective in making the pie is to provide a pleasurable eating experience. This is the desired outcome, which is monitored by its taste.

(ii) Barriers to action
  • To make an apple pie needs certain inputs which essentially remove barriers to making the pie. These are:

o A skilled and motivated cook,
o A recipe.

The quality of each of these will have a significant impact on the quality of the final product.

(iii) The Project

Making the pie is a project carried out to meet the objective. It has to be scheduled in terms of gathering the ingredients and accessing an oven (the resources), then following a recipe (the methodology) by preparing the apples, mixing the pastry, setting the oven and baking the pie for the required time at the required temperature. Again the quality of the process will affect the result.

(iv) The Output

The output is the pie itself.

(vii) The Outcome

The outcome is the result of the pie i.e. the meal. Eating the pie is in fact the objective of managing its production, and the properties of the pie, i.e. its state or condition, determine the quality of the eating experience. A performance indicator would be whether or not the pie is eaten; another would entail diners evaluating the experience of eating it on a 1 to 5 scale. In turn, measuring the performance of making a pie would be likely to lead to a feedback review as to whether the process was adequate to achieve the desired outcome. This is the process of monitoring. The project schedule may well change as a result of this feedback about the outcome from monitoring.

Thinking about making apple pies helps in understanding the ideas behind planning, recording and monitoring. In particular, the analogy helps clarify what outcomes a community was hoping to achieve and the way in which they would monitor their achievements.

Also see section on 'Management'

And the introduction to making 'Ecoscopes'

Action plan templates

(i) A Project Template

The following text may be used as a template and pasted as a diary entry to start a particular project.

When will the project be carried out?
This is a calendar item that schedules the work to begin on a particular date, and says how long it will take.

What work has to be done?
This is a summary description of the work that has to be done to meet a particular objective by controlling one of its barriers to action.

How are you going to do it?
This is a description of the work that has to be done in terms of procedures and methods.

Who will do it?
This is a list of the people who will carry out the work.

What will they need?
This is a list of any special tools or equipment required and schedules when they will be needed.

Where will it be done?
This describes where the work has to be done and is linked to an annotated map of the site.

How much will it cost?
This is the budget allowance for the work.

When will the work be carried out?
This is scheduled as a start and entry point from the calendar

(ii) An Outcomes Template

The following text may be used as a diary template for an outcomes (monitoring) project. The completed document can be used as a report.

When was it actually done?
Sometimes work schedules tend to slip so it is important to record the date when the work was actually carried out.

What did it actually cost?
Did the project fall within budget?

When was it actually done?
Sometimes work schedules tend to slip so it is important to record when the work was actually carried out.

Who actually did the work?
Sometimes there has to be a change in manpower from the time the work was originally scheduled, so it is important to record those who actually carried out the work.

Any problems?
It is important to record any unforeseen problems associated with the work, particularly those that prevented its successful completion.

What was the outcome of the work?
It is important to monitor how close the work has come to meeting the objective. This is found by measuring an attribute of the objective at a suitable interval after the work was carried out for comparison with the situation at the time the work was done. This will provide a performance indicator of management.

Who needs reports?
Reports on the action plan and its outcome should be sent to all those people and organisations, such as sponsors, strategic planners and members of the community.

3 Labyrinths

The word 'labyrinth' and the word 'maze' mean much the same thing. 'Labyrinth' is a Greek word; 'maze' is from Scandinavia, and both words were used in period. There are two basic types; either a single long, meandering path, or multiple connected paths. During the medieval period it was well known that labyrinths were easy to get lost in, but evidence suggests that by far the more commonly constructed type is a single path as opposed to the many intersections of modern mazes.

Labyrinths are an appropriate tool for developing and managing inspirational spaces in and around the school. They provide teachers with the opportunity to build life skills such as planning, budgeting, scheduling, negotiation and project management. It encourages teamwork, inter-generational activity and can also be used to stimulate individual research. They have existed for thousands of years; they appear in many faith and cultural traditions in many parts of the world, from Ecuador to Iceland, from Arizona to Turkey. They appear in many forms: rock carvings, pottery designs, ancient coins, tiles and earthworks cut into the ground, or with lines of stone. Britain has eight of Europe's ancient turf labyrinths. A labyrinth is not a maze; mazes have many paths and dead ends, designed to confuse. Labyrinths have a single, convoluted path to the centre and back again; if you are walking a labyrinth, you can usually see the whole design, though concentration is needed to follow the path. Step into the labyrinth and follow the path to your goal (center). Receive insight, solve a problem, alleviate stress or simply enjoy a peaceful walk. Return to the world via the same path bringing with you renewed energy, expanded awareness, clarification, acceptance and joy.

Walking a labyrinth is a peaceful experience. We don't know how labyrinths were used in ancient times, but there has been a modern resurgence of interest. People walk labyrinths today for many reasons; for relaxation, stress and anger management, for a quiet meditative break in the middle of a busy day, for spiritual development, or simply to relax and enjoy the walk with time for oneself. The University of Kent has introduced the labyrinth as a work of art and as a creative resource for teaching. It provides an opportunity for students to have a quiet reflective time and space to organise their learning experience.

The point of walking a labyrinth is really to create and renforce a personal mind map. A mind-map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualise, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organisation, problem solving, and decision making. The meditation aspect of 'Please walk on the grass' is to walk the labyrinth to make a personal mindmap of biodiversity.

As an inspirational and informative learning tool that teaches the goal is always visible, labyrinths are pathways to peace and tolerance. They illuminate understanding, promote healing and wellness, enhance joy, beauty and curiosity, reveal elusive answers, reawaken our dreams, discover hidden talent, create excitement and inspire optimism. Here are some of the educational advantages.

* Innovative educators adding a labyrinth program to their curriculum have discovered higher test scores, accelerated learning, enhanced creativity, heightened imagination, and less student aggression.

* Children using labyrinths appear calmer, have better attention spans, increased mental focus, improved impulse control and stimulated imaginations.

* These inspiring symbols have been used for thousands of years in diverse cultures to strengthen commitment, unify communities, build teamwork, resolve conflict, provide guidance and honor beauty, order and nature.

* Sharper educational focus, reduced stress, maximized leadership skills and whole brain learning are other benefits educators utilizing labyrinths have reported.

* Labyrinths quiet the mind, activating a deeper level of creativity and imagination. They integrate left and right brains combining math and artistic expression. Inventive ideas and novel approaches often appear encouraging change and unique insight.

* Many examples existe of teachers and students working together in the labyrinth classroom promoting wellness and movement, language arts, history, geography and social studies, theater and music, art and mathematics.

4 Thinking about biodiversity

The key is to stop thinking about biodiversity as something which occurs somewhere far away, in a national park perhaps. Biodiversity is with us and all around us and takes many forms, a school playing field being one of them. Biodiversity is not just about the individual butterfly, the individual microorganism, the elephant - it's about all of these things, and particularly it's about how they interact. We are embedded in biodiversity when we buy a bottle of coke or switch on an electric light. So we have to think of ourselves as part nature rather than as nature being something distant from us available only for entertainment or examinations.

Being part of nature in everything we do raised the question of how important is biodiversity? Where do we draw the line between human needs for housing, roads and factories and the preservation of wildlife? Is there any need to consider the endangered or threatened species of plants and animals at the expense of human and capital development? Of what importance is the survival of North American Polar bears to the life of average American worker who wants to make ends meet? These are important questions to think about when walking a labyrinth.

5 Making a labyrinth

6 Human impact on biodiversity?

6.1 Art

In 1967, Richard Long, then 22 years old and a student at Saint Martin's School of Art in London, walked back and forth along a straight line in the grass in the English countryside, leaving a track that he then photographed in black and white. The work, taken as the milestone in contemporary art, balances on the fine line between the performance (action) and the sculpture (outcome).

Refering to this, Richard made the following comment:-

"Nature has always been a subject of art, from the first cave paintings to twentieth-century landscape photography. I wanted to use the landscape as an artist in new ways. First I started making work outside using natural materials like grass and water, and this led to the idea of making a sculpture by walking. This was a straight line in a grass field, which was also my own path, going 'nowhere'. In the subsequent early map works, recording very simple but precise walks on Exmoor and Dartmoor, my intention was to make a new art which was also a new way of walking: walking as art. Each walk followed my own unique, formal route, for an original reason, which was different from other categories of walking, like travelling. Each walk, though not by definition conceptual, realised a particular idea. Thus walking - as art - provided a simple way for me to explore relationships between time, distance, geography and measurement. These walks are recorded in my work in the most appropriate way for each different idea: a photograph, a map, or a text work. All these forms feed the imagination."

6.2 Myth

The 'grass is greener'

Grass looks greener 'on the other side of the fence', because it's the grass that you don't have. This old saying points out that some people think that what they want is better than what they have and in many cases they could be wrong.

This is the premise that our whole consumer society is based on.

• The car you drive is just fine-except it doesn't have a GPS screen in the stereo system, it doesn't have a camera to help you back up, it doesn't have comfort controls for all passengers, it doesn't have. . .
• The computer you have is just fine-except it doesn't have a single mouse click device, it doesn't have a high-def monitor, it doesn't work at warp speed, it doesn't have. . .
• The home you live in is just fine-except it doesn't have a pool in the back yard, it isn't located on High King Way, it doesn't have a yard boy, it doesn't have. . .
• The place you work is just fine-except it doesn't have matching funds for the 401K, it doesn't have free lunch opportunities, it doesn't have a family atmosphere, it doesn't have. . .
• The spouse you have is just fine-except they are too heavy, too loud, don't do enough of this and too much of that, don't have a lot of money, don't have. . .

-That cycle becomes deadly for us to try to live in. Yet our society runs on this sort of concept that always has to make us feel as if we are missing out on life if we don't have the latest and the greatest.

• You need a new widget!
• You need a new doodad!
• You need a new gizmo!

It is difficult to live happily in this kind of gripping discontent when our society cannot understand the difference between wants and needs.

Lure of the labyrinth

The world of Lure of the Labyrinth is an amazing world, filled as it is with outrageous - and often disgusting - MONSTERS. You'll be interacting a lot with these monsters as you play Lure of the Labyrinth. So we thought you might want to know a little more about them.

The first thing you should understand is that some of the Lure of the Labyrinth's monsters are totally new and invented for the game. They have names like Scrubby and Imp and Salamander. Then there are other monsters that are drawn from various world mythologies. These include characters like Yeti (from Tibet) and Eloko (from Central Africa) and Medusa (from Greece). The mythology-based monsters in Lure of the Labyrinth don't always look exactly like their specific models. Sometimes they're more like a combination of very similar characters from different mythologies. And they don't always act exactly like their specific models, either. For instance, Medusa was so horrifying in her original Greek myth that anyone who looked at her was instantly turned into stone. Now we don't think anyone will turn into stone when they see Medusa in Lure of the Labyrinth ... but then again, we've been advised by our lawyers not to make any promises! What we can say, though, is that each of the Lure of the Labyrinth's monsters will eventually appear - with a short "bio" - in the Bestiary section of your TPC once you actually encounter them in the game.

And beyond that, if you want to meet the monsters, it's time to start playing Lure of the Labyrinth ...

6.3 History

Vegetation responds to environmental change and human impacts. It also leaves traces of itself behind in the landscape in the form of pollen. This is preserved in the ground as fossils for thousands (and sometimes millions) of years. Pollen grains produced by different species of plant have a distinctive appearance. This allows us to work out what type of plant they came from, which in turn tells us the plants that used to grow in the surrounding area.

For example, pollen analysis from Stonehenge show that widespread woodland clearance had already taken place in the vicinity. Vegetation seems to have been chalk grassland with a wide variety of grassland flowers growing in the sward. Arable fields and waste ground/footpaths were probably close by. The pollen assemblages suggest that these sequences may be of Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age date. (around 4000 - 2000 BC). The Neolithic was the period of domestication of plants and animals. There is a current debate between those who believe that the introduction of farming and a sedentary lifestyle was brought about by resident peoples adopting new practices, and those who hold the opinion that it was effected by continental invaders bringing their culture with them and, to some degree, replacing the indigenous populations. Whatever is the truth, pollen analysis shows that woodland was decreasing and grassland increasing, with a major decline of elms. The winters were typically 3 degrees colder than at present but the summers some 2.5 degrees warmer.

6.4 Mathematics

Mazes (using them, or designing them) can offer very stimulating opportunities for co-operative and creative mathematics. The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) has an excellent overview of how out-of-door 'maze work' can be used to extend children's learning.

'The site illustrates the effectiveness of simple mathematical mazes. These can be professionally designed and painted onto the playground, or, (arguably of greater value) can be semi-permanent markings designed by the children. Because of the infinite ways in which most of these mazes can be used, they have a high motivation factor and tend to be 'sticky', in hat children will return to them again and again. However, the initial planning and designing process is potentially the most valuable mathematical aspect. The NCETM site offers details of how to include children in designing their own mazes to challenge their peers'

A Maths Maze Day in your school offers the opportunity for students to develop creative maths problem solving skills.

How to design a logic maze
math labyrith.jpg

'Choose an entry point to the maze which must be on the edge of the maze. Then choose a final destination square and draw a main path, or solution route, from this square to the entry point in the maze. For example, when creating your own Jumping Maze you would need to work backwards from the centre square like this:

The solution route created is 1, 1, 3, 3, 2, 2, X

To complete this maze simply put other numbers into the blank squares on the grid. The level of complexity of the final maze depends on the position of the numbers on the grid.
Most of the mazes that your students create will have a number of different solution routes to the final destination square. To create a unique solution path (only one way to the final destination square), none of the other numbers placed on the grid should allow you to “jump” onto the solution route. This offers a difficult yet very motivational challenge to students.

Make sure when creating a maze that the path is not too short or your maze will be solved very quickly. Alternatively don't make the path too long, as you won't be able to have many choices or dead-ends, and then the maze becomes less of a challenge. Think carefully about the design and the way the maze looks; this will be important when it comes to getting others interested in playing your maze'.

6.5 Computer studies

6.6 Ecological impact of a labyrinth

Making a labyrinth has an ecological impact just like any other human activity. With reference to school grounds, this began when the school was built and the grounds laid out in what had probably been one of the fields of a local farm. Walking a labyrinth made in grass has an ecological effect which can be measured by periodically measured byu recording key plant species in the turf. Grassy areas such as lawns and playing fields are maintained as grassland by mowing. Mowing removes the upper portions of grassland plants above a certain height. Many tall growing plants are killed when the upper parts of the plant are removed, either by grazing animals or mowers. Other plants have evolved a range of adaptations which enables them to survive in such conditions.

The key to a being a plant that is successful in closely mowed grassland lies in the position of the meristem. The meristem is a group of actively dividing cells forming the growing point of a shoot or a root. Most plants have an meristem, called an apical meristem, that is located at the tip of the shoot (or root). If they are grazed or mown, plants with an apical meristem lose their growing points, and will probably die. Note that some plants can survive if they are able to produce a new side shoot from an axillary bud (the bud in point where a leaf joins the stem).

The leaf blade of grass is long, narrow, and has its meristem near the point where it joins the root. Even if the upper part of the leaf is broken off, perhaps by a lawnmower, the grass can continue to grow. The competitive advantage of having a growing point close to the ground is lost in longer vegetation, such as underneath shrubs and trees, where the leaves are in shade.

Some common grassland plants, such as the daisy (Bellis perennis), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Rough hawkbit (Leontodon hispidus) and greater plantain (Plantago major), grow a rosette of leaves. This is a specific growth-form where the plant has very short distances between the growth of the stem and the formation of a leaf. This is called the internode difference, and a short internode distance results in a circle of leaves lying flat against the ground in a spiral fashion to avoid overlapping. A strong straight root (the tap root) grows vertically down in the soil under the leaves. These adaptations give the plants a competitive advantage in short grassland which is mowed such as the lawns and playing fields.

In longer vegetation, the rosette growth-form is less common, as the flat leaves are shaded out by surrounding plants. If rosette-forming plants (such as the dandelion) grow amongst taller plants the leaves tend to grow more upright as a clump rather than as the characteristic flat rosette. Both of the growth forms can survive mowing, as the shoot meristems are very close to the ground, though the plants may lose flowers on taller upright flower stems. Other plants adopt a trailing, creeping or prostate growth form. White clover (Trifolium repens), silverweed(Potentilla anserina) and creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens) spread sideways by means of stolons. These are stems that grow low against the ground, growing new roots and producing new offshoots of the same plant to produce a large patch that excludes grasses.

Walking on grass produces a similar effect to mowing. Relatively few species are able to tolerate heavy trampling. There is usually a decrease in the number of species (species richness) towards the centre of the path. (Note species richness is not the same as species diversity which takes into account the relative abundance of each species as well as the number of species.) Many of the species which tolerate trampling well are able to exhibit the rosette growth form and have their growing points situated close to the ground. Even closely related species vary in their tolerance to trampling. Greater Plantain is said to be more tolerant of trampling than the Ribwort Plantain. Unlike mowing the effect of trampling is to compact the soil which stops the roots taking in nutrients. Plants resistant to trampling tend to grow flat and have a root system that can cope with the compaction of soil.

These effects of mowing and trampling can be recoded by measuring the species diversity across the paths of a grass labyrinth. In the following table species are counted in 8 areas of a footpath, starting from position 1 in the middle and working out towards the edge at 8

species diversity1.jpg
species diversity2.jpg
p lanceolata.jpg
p major.jpg

Footpaths and edges,%2057-82.pdf

7 Concept diagrams

Ideas that come from walking a labyrinth can be expressed in diagrams to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central idea. The brain does not store information in the same way as most people write notes - line by line, but pictorially and often in a tree-like pattern.

The following three diagrams illustrate how three fundamental ideas about biodiversity can be expressed diagrammatically to show the main starting points for building up a personal body of knowledge about biodiversity.

Food chain in wooded grassland


Feeding behaviour of waders in relation to bill shape and size


Mind map of 'ecological heroes

The best way to start a mind map is to write or draw the main idea in the centre of a blank sheet of paper, placed in landscape orientation. Build subtopics from around the main topic and connect each of them to the centre with a line. Lower-level subtopics can be added to subtopics ti continue developing the idea. This is a mind map. Colours, symbols and pictures can be used with different font sizes and with variations in the connecting lines and boxes to highlight different pathways of learning.

Thinking about Biodiversity.jpg
School labyrinths can serve as an activity zone for students who wish to make their own mind maps. They can stimulate creative thinking and problem-solving. From this point of view a mind map can be thought of as a follow up to walking a labyrinth. As an example, the central idea for the above mind map is 'Ecological Heroes'. Sometimes in our haste we forget to appreciate plant and animals that are not obvious and showy. Even the lowly worm deserves respect. In your busy day, think for a moment about the unsung heroes in the animal and plant kingdoms and … go out on a limb – bring up the topic in conversation with friends. Take the initial laughter, laugh along, and then keep the topic going a bit longer. Although worms may not yet be in vogue, you will be on the cutting edge of a new wave of appreciation for the ‘little guys’ that structure our world. Pandas may come and go but to loose worms would be a planetary disaster!

Learn more about Ecological Heroes

8 Useful Web references