L.A.W.S. of nature

The LAWS of nature are the four abiotic things that every living, biotic, organism needs to survive either directly or indirectly. The LAWS are light, air, water, and soil or substrate. Only the abiotic factors of soil are referred to in the LAWS of nature.

How do LAWS Vary? 
The LAWS can be generalized based on elevation (dryness, and temperature), latitudinal distance from the equator (sun light,temperature), and available water (distance from coast, rain fall).  Similar environments have similar LAWS.

How do the LAWS affect where an organism lives?
Light, Air, Water, and Soil (or Substrate) shape everything about an organism.  They shape the structure, function, behavior, and evolution of an organism.  The environment an organism lives in is shaped by the LAWS.  The organism has to adapt to the environment if it is going to survive there.  If the animal can not adapt it will go extinct.

LAWS and Organisms
LAWS to Organism Perspective (SOP mind mapping)
Example Environment: Desert
Q: Could a Big Leaf Oak/Brown Bear live in the desert?
ANS: No (unless you manipulate the LAWS and live in AZ)

Light – a lot! it is hot!
Air – good amount
Water – only small amounts can be found
Soil – (is it fertile?) – not really
Q: Based on this – what adaptations might an organism have?
Plants – small surface area (reduces water loss by heat) , a tough structure (reduces water loss by heat)
Possible plant: Cacti
Animals – Nocturnal (avoid heat), small (needs less food water), live under ground (avoid heat), stay close to water sources, camouflage (to avoid predation), exothermic (gets heat from outside of body, lower metabolic needs to live)
Possible animal – small rodent

Organism to LAWS Perspective (SOP mind mapping)
Based on the needs/adaptations of an animal you can determine where it might live.
Sample Plant – Sword Fern
Adaptations – spores (needs to be spread by water), large surface area (wants more sunlight!), lush green color (very healthy)

Possible LAWS
L – low light
A – normal
W – a lot of water to spread spores
S – fertile soil to maintain spores, size, and color
Sample Animal – Douglas Squirrel
Adaptations – loves to eat douglas fir seeds (what do fir trees need?), small, brown/blackish (avoid predation), has a loud chirp (to scare predators)
Possible LAWS (also, should allow for growth of a douglas fir tree)
L – not sure?
A – normal
W – high amounts
S – fertile

Games that could be used to teach the LAWS

Beavers and Trees
This game is similar to freeze tag.  One person is “it” and they are the beaver.  All of the other players are the trees.  If a tree gets tagged by a beaver, it has been eaten and crouches down to signify to they other players that it has been tagged.  In order for the tree to grown again so that they can continue to play the game, two of their friends need to stand over their head and chant “Light, Air, Water, Soil” two times.  After this has happened, the tree has gotten everything it needs to grow again and can continue playing the game.
Some additions could be to introduce a predator who chaces the beaver or to announce that a shopping mall has been built and the boundaries have to shrink.  In the debrief the game, the students reason about what changed about the game with these additions.
See the Games Manual for more ideas.


Each student gets to become any plant they want and are told to spread out in a field.  Different colored poker chips each representing Light, Air, Water, and Soil are scattered on the ground around the students.  Each students can use their arms to try to get the LAWS but cannot move their feet.  If they do not get all of the LAWS they need to survive, they die a dramatic death.  The debrief of the activity should highlight that the students who were standing by themselves were able to get all the LAWS, but those who were close together found it more difficult to survive because they had to compete for resources.
Poker chips for this activity are located in the box that says “The LAWS Game” in the prep room.

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