The Earth As An Apple

In this activity, an apple is used to demonstrate how small a proportion of the Earth has the appropriate physical conditions for successful agricultural activities.  Students learn to respect the Earth as a complex environment in which humans have important responsibilities (make wise use of limited agricultural land).  Teachers should provide an appropriate background to the issues that will be highlighted in the demonstration. Arrange the classroom so that all students can view the demonstration, and prepare the required materials (apple, paring knife, paper towel, cutting board). 

Instructions   The apple represents the Earth. Cut it into quarters.

  • Three of the quarters represent the world’s oceans. Put them aside.
  • One quarter represents the world’s total land area. Take the quarter that represents the land area and slice it in half.
  • Half of the quarter (1/8 of the whole apple) represents the parts of the Earth not suitable for human habitation (polar regions, deserts, mountains, etc.).
  • Put this piece aside. The 1/8 of the apple left represents the portion where humans can live .
  • Much of this 1/8, however, is not suitable for agriculture. Slice the 1/8 apple into four sections (each piece is now only 1/32 of the whole apple).
  • Three of these sections represent areas not suitable for agricultural production (inappropriate climate and soil conditions, land taken up by cities, highways, etc.).
  • Put them aside.   You are now left with only 1/32 of the apple (Earth) that is suitable for agricultural activities. 
  • Carefully peel this piece (since agriculture takes place at the surface of the Earth in a soil layer approximately one metre thick and in the immediate atmosphere above it).
  • This small piece of apple peel, barely 3 % of the apple’s surface, represents the total area of agricultural land that has to feed the entire population of the planet.

Farmers are stewards of this precious slice of soil.  Congratulate our farmers who care for the soil to feed the world.  Educate our youth about agriculture.