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Möbius strips and four cycles of nature

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Explore four natural cycleswater, oxygen/carbon dioxide, carbon, and nitrogen—with a Möbius Strip, a “twisted cylinder” with one surface and no boundaries.

Teach Engineering uses this mathematical object, discovered in 1858 by German mathematician August Ferdinand Möbius, to help reveal the interconnectedness of our planet’s environments.

four cycles
Descriptive phrases for each cycle demonstrate the endless loop, but you can level up this activity by illustrating the cycles with drawings, cut paper dioramas, or other kinds of art. From the activity page:

“Do you know that oxygen is breathed in by animals and then breathed out as carbon dioxide? Then in turn, plants take in that same carbon dioxide and then release oxygen for those same (and many other) animals to breathe in again? This is an example of a cycle in nature — the oxygen cycle.

“Another example of a cycle in nature is the water cycle… Think about how the water from a lake evaporates into the sky and later comes back down to the lake in the form of rain or precipitation… that’s part of the water cycle.

“Nitrogen and carbon have similar cycles. All cycles are important abiotic (non-living) parts of nature. Most every biotic (living) part of nature needs all these abiotic cycles to exist. There are so many connections in nature!”

mobius strip
Related at Khan Academy: Intro to biogeochemical cycles.

Then watch these related Mobius and nature videos:
• Levitating Superconductor on a Möbius strip
• The Water Cycle: A boogie woogie stop motion clay animation
• How Do Trees Transport Water from Roots to Leaves?
• The Cycle: Carbon and Oxygen and You
• Möbius strip bagel, a mathematically correct breakfast by George Hart

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