The power of Nature

Project Overview

Nature is powerful.  Humans and other organisms struggle with its power everyday to ensure their survival.  Its destructive and creative capacity has humbled and inspired our species in profound ways that constitute the majority of our history.  Our ability to harness and subdue nature is unique among all species and has given us extraordinary influence over the future of the planet, while also allowing us to efficiently transform nature to fit our needs.  Despite our apparent conquest of nature, the distribution of its resources, the unpredictability of natural disasters, the shape of its topography, and the fragility of its ecosystems all continue to fundamentally impact our way of life.  Though nature certainly affects our physical survival, it is perhaps even more powerful over the human psyche.  Our history has seen poets inspired by majestic mountain vistas and sailors terrified by 90-foot waves, indigenous peoples seeing the Creator's spirit in all of nature and fearful villagers associating the wilderness outside the city walls as dangerous, dirty, and demonic.  Each of these perspectives has intertwined to create our culture's environmental philosophy, which manifests itself everyday in our interactions with the natural world.

This project will investigate the different aspects of nature's power through the lenses of history, literature, language, science, and math.  Students will explore how nature has influenced human conflicts and immigration patterns, how spoken and written language have influenced and expressed cultural perceptions of nature, how humans impact the environment and use it to create cellular and electric energy, and how many of our interactions with nature can be described and analyzed with mathematical concepts.  Students will leave the program with a deeper understanding of nature's influence over their culture and personal experience.

Driving Question


Have humans conquered nature?  How do humans struggle with the power of nature to advance civilizations?

Milestones & Timeline


The teachers have created a series of milestones to ensure that students stay on track to complete the projects.  Teachers and peers will check in with each student weekly to ensure that these milestones are being met.  The Digital Portfolio each student is provided contains information about each milestone listed below.

Entry Event



Final Product


Develop a hands-on product in conjunction with an educational campaign that addresses the power of nature on humans and other organisms while also demonstrating mastery of every competency of every group member.


Choose one hands-on project:


  • Build a functional machine or technology that harnesses the power of nature to do work.

  • Create a sustainable product that revolutionizes energy production or addresses a global environmental issue

  • Create a structure that can withstand nature or harness nature’s power to benefit society

  • Create a 3D product that demonstrate how natural design has been used historically or could be used in the future to benefit society



  • An educational campaign (blog, social media, video, podcast, in-person event) for the public that relates the following concepts with your hands-on project above:

    • Transcendentalists

    • Industrial Revolution

    • Conservation movement

    • Cultural perceptions of nature in Western, Eastern, and indigenous cultures

    • The effect of natural resources on historical and societal conflict and compromise

Remember that every Final Product must meet the following criteria:

  • Portfolio structure (body of evidence)

  • Community /career tie in (must have mentor from outside the school per team)

  • Survival skills component per applicable level of student expectations (1st through 5th years; presentation skills and /or multi - media  expertise)

  • Math component

  • Social studies component

  • Science component

  • Language component (Lit/text, analysis)

  • Freedom for student voice and choice component