Year 5: Change Over Time

In our fifth year, we examined Change over Time, through three areas that change at vastly different rates on massively different scales: Rock, Seed, and Human. The ancient Greek philosopher, Hera-klei-tos, once said that “the only constant, we can expect in life, is change”. Represented in the sciences by the iconic Greek letter “𝚫”, this simple letter is the international symbol in mathematics and physics used to represent change over time. We adopted this symbol as our sigil, and this idea as perspective from which we explored the world in the 2015/2016 school year.

On the enormous time-scale of geology, we examined the secret life of the rock: from the spectacular geologic processes that shape and reshape our planet, to the sedimentary layers that represent millions of years of imperceptibly slow change over time, to the rocks in Africa that record some of the oldest evidence of human intelligence, capturing the impulse to create and preserving it for millennia. Every rock has a story. Each one contains clues about where it came from, and the journey that it took. We live on a rock, hurtling through space. As the first arc of our year, we took this opportunity to look at the origin stories through the study of rock; our own, the bedrock of our school, and this rock that we call home.

At the other end of the time scale, we found something that we could watch as it changes over time – a plant, growing from a seed. From the giant trees native to California, whose lives extend back thousands of years, to the industrialized agriculture and the yearly crops we depend on, the instructions and energy necessary to create a plant are packed into a tiny, almost indestructible package. A seed is the very definition of potential, which we took as our second arc of the year. In our studies, we discovered that it may very well be our relationship to seeds and agriculture that civilized us and made us human.

We are one of the only species with the awareness to recognize that we are changing over time. From our quest to unearth our oldest ancestors to our never-ending search for the mechanism of intelligence and the desire to understand how our brains seem to be able to adapt and learn anything and everything, the human impulse to change our environment is evident in everything we do. We asked what it meant to be human, to be the embodiment of change.