Thursday, April 3, 2014

Museum: Miniature Dioramas of Nature - you can make one yourself

Dr Abe V Rotor

These miniature dioramas are among dozens of student projects depicting the biomes and ecosystems of the world. They graced the SPUQC museum for 15 years, and became inspiration to art enthusiasts and budding scientists.

Why don't you make dioramas about nature? Viewing these samples may help you build one in your school - or in your home. Do not attempt to make a big one immediately. You will graduate to that - even to a life size diorama when you'll have the skill and experience. Use local materials - maybe recycled, but remember - aim at exhibiting it in a museum. It must be authentic, complete and beautiful to be appreciated.

Don't hurry, take time, research to make every part true and scientific. Ask your humanities teacher on the artistic part, your biology or ecology teacher for the technical side. Plan well, forget the cartoons and fantasies for the moment. What you are doing is a replica of nature - how it looks, what it is made of, how it responds to changing times, its aesthetics, its function, its appeal. You are now an artist and a scientist!

The Ocean Biome and Coral Reef Ecosystem

Scientists today believe that eighty percent of the world’s species of organisms are found in the sea. One can imagine the vastness of the oceans as their habitat – four kilometers deep on the average (12 km at the deepest, Mariana Trench and Philippine Deep), covering 78 percent of the surface of the earth. Young people create scenarios of Jules Verne’s, “Ten Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” such as this diorama, imagining man’s futuristic exploration in the deep led by Captain Nemo, the idealistic but ruthless scientist. Such scenarios are no longer fantasy today – they are scenes captured by the camera and other modern tools of research. And the subject is not one of exploration alone, but conservation, for our oceans, limitless as they seem, are facing the same threats of pollution and other abuses man is doing inflicting on land and air. The sea is man’s last frontier. Let us give it a chance.

The Tropical Rainforest

The earth once wore a green belt on her midriff – the rainforest, which covered much of her above and below the equator. Today this cover has been reduced, and is still shrinking. The nakedness of the earth can be felt everywhere. One place is our country where only 10 percent of our original cover remains. Even the great Amazon Basin is threatened. As man moves to new areas, put up dwellings, plant crops, becomes affluent, increases in number, the tropical rain forest shrinks. Our thinking that it is the source of natural resources is wrong. These are finite and not only that, the ecosystem itself once destroyed, cannot be replaced. It can not regenerate if the soil is eroded, if the climate around it is changed. It is everyone’s duty to protect the tropical rainforest, the bastion of thousands of species of organisms. In fact it is the riches of all the biomes on earth.

Savannah - biome for safari

Island and Atoll Ecosystems - characteristic of thousands
of mainly volcanic islands in the world.
Desert biome - second largest biome after ocean
Scenarios of Sahara flash in the mind the moment the word “desert” is brought out to both young and old in fantasy or vivid reality. Here are wastelands, so vast that they dwarf the imagination. They may lie at the very core of continents like Australia and North America, or extend to high altitude (Atacama Desert) or altitude (Siberia) where temperatures runs way below zero degrees Celsius. Here, rain seldom comes. It is a lucky place where rain falls, and when it does, the desert suddenly blooms into multi-facetted designs, shape and colors of short-growing plants. Sooner the desert is peacefully dry and eerie once more, except the persistent cacti and their boarders, shrubs and bushes that break the monotony of sand and sand dunes. But somewhere the “desert is hiding a well,” so sang the lost pilot and the little prince in Exupery’s novelette, “The Little Prince.” He was referring of course to oasis, waterhole in the desert. It is here that travelers mark their route, animals congregate, nations put claim on political borders. Ecologically this is the nerve center of life, spiritually the bastion of hope, a new beginning, renewal, the source of eternal joy. The desert is not a desert after all.

Two versions of Maria Cristina Falls in Mindanao

Alpine, representing high rise mountains

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