Tutor profile: Dale M.
Use descriptive language to explain an experience you had recently.
I sat at the opening of the lean-to, which was sturdy and had been built from smooth wood. Before me was a lazy forest. Trees lounged in the springtime sun, their green leaves stretched out, shading the path below. Fluffy white cottonwood seeds floated in the air, like tiny clouds under the canopy. They were aimless, their soft, slow movement mesmerizing. I could feel my heart slowing in my chest, calming down from the vigorous climb needed to reach this relaxing place. To my right was the faint trickle of a small stream. Occasionally there would be a rustle in the deep layer of dead leaves and detritus on the ground, and a chipmunk would hop onto a log looking anxious, then dart away again.
Subject: Environmental Science
Explain how energy moves throughout an ecosystem via trophic interactions.
Trophic interactions occur when energy (in the form of biomass) is transferred from one organism to another. Energy is first acquired by plants from the sun via photosynthesis. Then, it is eaten by herbivores and omnivores. These animals use the energy as they move and live, and convert it into heat. When they are eaten by predators, the energy is transferred to the new organism, and so on. When an organism dies, its remains are scavenged and eaten, or it decomposes and its leftover energy is taken up by mushrooms and other life forms. These trophic interactions are often depicted as pyramids because there is more biomass at lower levels (plants) and less biomass (ie fewer individuals) at higher levels (wolves).
Read Richard Wright's poem "Haiku #122" (dashes for emphasis/italics): And what do /you/ think, O still and awesome spider, Of this summer rain? Discuss one thing you could interpret from this poem.
Wright acknowledges the agency of the natural world. That’s to say, he sees that the animals and plants around them are enacting their own free will, and is not upset by it. In only a few words, Wright challenges his readers to move away from an anthropocentric way of looking at the world, and specifically at the natural world. This is abundantly clear because of his choice to emphasize “you” (Wright #122), meaning the spider. This way of thinking is not common practice, replaced instead by ideas that nature serves a human purpose, or that it is too wild for autonomy. Additionally, Wright challenges us by choosing a spider to be his poem subject. For humans, spiders are a source of fear and disgust, and are things to be eradicated. Yet, he uses the word “awesome” (Wright #122) to describe the creature, elevating it to a place of importance. The narrator's relationship with the spider isn’t just one of intrigue, though, it goes deeper. To begin with, he is not describing the spider or its actions to us to marvel at, but simply acknowledging its existence, seemingly saying that the spider does not need to justify itself, it simply needs to be. Then, the conversational manner of the haiku suggests not only a comfort, but possibly even a love for this ugly, damned spider. The rain doesn't only affect us, we are reminded, but every living thing. We’re asked to see the world from the perspective of a spider, something that we will never really be able to understand or relate to, and something that we probably don’t want to think much about. But, just because we aim to ignore it doesn’t make the spider go away, and it certainly doesn’t make it any less worthy of life.