Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Nat Geo's Planet Or Plastic Campaign

Just last week, National Geographics launched their latest magazine and newest multi-year campaign with a striking cover. Planet or Plastic?

When you put it that way, clearly we have to choose.
Which I think is their point! And, if we must choose, my hope would be for the former versus the
latter.

When roughly 9 million TONS of plastic end up in the ocean annually that's significant. Don't forget, plastics, especially single use plastics, are pretty light in weight!

Just like their paper version of the magazine, their online portal is ripe with information... including a pledge you can take to cut down on your plastic consumption and usage!

Articles:
  • Plastics Explained, From A-Z by Elizabeth Atalay, Laura Parker, & Heidi Schulz
    • This has a lot of important environmental vocabulary, and lots of resources available through clickable links or embedded videos.


Interactives:

Their videos:
  • Plastics 101
  • A Brief History of How Plastic Has Changed Our World
  • How to Cleanse Your Beauty Regime of Microplastic
  • Students' Ice Pops Bring Plastic Pollution to (Unappetizing) Life
  • Manta Ray Swims in Trash
All images from National Geographics Planet or Plastic https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/planetorplastic/?beta=true

Saturday, May 19, 2018

#StopSucking: Straws, That Is

I have to say... I try really hard to make my posts fairly rated G... but this one may be more PG-13... or perhaps even PG-10 in this day and age. The title should give you a hint to the language that crops up in the video below.


I've written about straws before. And, I write this statement while drinking my green tea out of my reusable Corkcicle with my stainless steel straw... for over a year now.

There's a new trend in town, though I've been talking about it for quite awhile, and we've had our stainless steel straws in this house for 3-4 years. But it's a trend I've been seeing in area restaurants, bars... and even recently in the Chicago airport while traveling.  This video is great... though eye-opening with it's remark that by 2050 we could potentially have more plastic marine debris in the ocean than actual fish. Ouch. That's within my lifetime. I don't like these statistics!



A number of awareness websites are cropping up. Check them out, here below. Then maybe order some stainless steel straws, and go about seeing what you can do to #StopSucking!

Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=75&v=Q91-23B8yCg; US Consumption image from https://thelastplasticstraw.org/; corkcicle and stainless steel straws image from my house!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Reinventing Our Relationship With Styrofoam

Ask my son what my thoughts are on Styrofoam, and he'll let you know: Evil Styrofoam!

Styrofoam, a common name tho really a brand name for polystyrene foam, is everywhere: cups, plates coolers, and more. It's far from eco-friendly in that it never biodegrades. Never... as in not ever. Nor is it recyclable, despite the little recycle symbol with the #6 on the bottom--a common misconception among people who sometimes think if the symbol is there, then certainly it's recyclable.  Additionally, polystyrene is also one of the leading causes of marine debris.

Given that, it begs the question: why is it still even a thing in this day and age.

As time and awareness continue on, more innovation is on the way. Additionally, so are Styrofoam bans. Given that, I'm proud of nearby Baltimore, who's City Council voted unanimously this February 28th, 2018 to ban Styrofoam in restaurants. Violations could lead to a $1000 fine.
"We look at all the litter in our waterways. It's not biodegradable. It's not actually being recycled," said Councilman John Bullock, the lead sponsor of Bill 17-0117. "For the most part, it's ending up in landfills or being incinerated. In water, it breaks apart into small pieces, which makes it very difficult to clear up the water and dangerous for wildlife."
Check out Groundswell's 2014 map of all the areas in the United States that have banned Styrofoam. Likewise, you can find an incomplete listing (though huge in and of itself) updated to approximately 2016 (and self-advertised as not updating regularly at the bottom of their list), check out the list of Polystyrene Ordinances at Surfrider.org.

Additionally, this article from Story of Stuff has some interesting pointers on what you can do yourself!

But...what about all that Styrofoam stuff that's already out there? 

Well, some people have some ideas!

This Attn. video featured below summarizes Ashton Cofer's 6 minute TED Talk from December 2016... and his innovative plan with how we can repurpose Styrofoam. Additionally, Ashton does an exceptional job of highlighting the importance of the design process!

Cheers to the young leaders, innovators, and game changers who are out there making an environmental difference! May we all follow their lead!

 


Video from
Images from https://pos.toasttab.com/blog/styrofoam-banhttp://ohhmywhitecoffin.blogspot.com/p/fact.htmlhttp://guyanachronicle.com/2015/12/13/say-no-to-styrofoam

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Happy Mother's Day: Spending It Outdoors & Modeling Environmentalism

My son recently went on a Middle School field trip where half of it was environmental stewardship in nature, and the other half was spent on the water doing stand up paddle boarding (aka "SUP"). He loved it. We're making plans to go sometime this summer, and if money were no object, he'd be buying a paddle board right this very minute!

The company he SUP'ed with is brilliant...they just sent forth a mother's day deal, where moms paddle board for free this Mother's Day. We'd be totally on board (pun intended) if it weren't an already-filled calendar with a mid-day lacrosse game and plans with the extended family, some of whom wouldn't be so into the paddle boarding.

Truth be told, I'd blow off the LAX game in a heartbeat, given kid sports on Mother's Day is not my personal favorite. We've fallen victim to that time and time again over the last dozen years, irking me from a sports scheduling standpoint, but I certainly digress. The spirit of a family bike ride, a water adventure, a hike in the woods, a visit to the park is far superior to that of an organized sport for both outdoor family fun and together on a holiday. It kind of reminds me of how wonderful our Father's Day camping trip was a few years ago.  (This year, it looks like we'll be at a Father's Day soccer tournament! Insert growl & more digression here.)

This year, whatever you do to celebrate Mother's Day, perhaps it will include some outdoor adventure.

These articles & websites may also help with the inspiration... and may they include a little education along the way:

  • Check out Hike It Baby, where their mission is to raise "a generation to love the outdoors" and change the world "one little hike at a time"
  • For some eye-opening stats, check out this 2016 Treehugger article "Children Spend less time Outside Than Prison Inmates."  If the title alone doesn't get you yearning to go outside, the "Free the Kids: Dirt is Good" video on the site will make you want to head outdoors (and make you count your blessings)!  You can also check out the Dirt Is Good website for other resources (including their Wild Explorers app) to help influence you and your kids of all ages to get outside.



Mother's Day outdoors photo from http://www.austinkayak.com/blog/2012/05/mothers-day-2012-give-the-gift-of-the-great-outdoors/; paddleboarding image https://goo.gl/images/rWWxmD, Mother's Day quote image from http://happymothersdayimagess.org/mothers-day-sayings.html/happy-mother-day-sayings-2017-2

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Still Thinking About Earth Day

Even though Earth Day has come and gone for awhile now, it's still lingering around my brain space.

It struck me that the 2 of us, Earth Day and I, are basically the same age. I've got it beat by about 6 months, but we're both hanging out here in our 48th year.

It seems like we've both accomplished a lot in these 48 years... though this is where I think Earth Day has certainly gotten me beat.

I think in wake of the current political climate, we environmentalists have gotten a little distraught over the last couple years. We've become downtrodden by climate deniers getting equal footing to the 97% climate scientists who are concerned by the evidence of climate change. We're impassioned when we see budgetary cuts to the EPA under the leadership of Scott Pruitt and company. We can easily be disheartened as to what the future holds for our planet--the one and only one we have got.

But looking over this list in this updated 4-18-2018 National Geographics article ("48 Environmental Victories Since the First Earth Day" written by Brian Clark Howard) we all have a lot of wins of which we should be proud.

To see all 48 wins, read the article. But here are a handful of notables. We should definitely take note of the progress... which, in turn, opens the door to hope. We've come this far, we can continue to go in the right direction.
  • DDT banned in 1972
  • 1972 Clean Water Act
  • 1973 Endangered Species Act
  • 1974--1995 Phase-Out of Leaded Gasoline
  • 1987 CFC's Banned, leading to the healing of the hole in the Ozone layer
  • 1989 Phase-Out of Asbestos
  • 1993 Green Building Council was founded
  • 1995 Bald Eagle Recovery
  • 2006 Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth came out
  • Check out the article for the other 39!
If you, too, are in the "Earth Day's Over, Now What" Zone, here are some reads that might help you make your day, changing the focus from the problems to the solutions.
Earth Day starts as one day of awareness... but certainly it's up to you if it ends there. Think of the changes we can bring about if we all do a little something to make the world a better place each day, focusing on solutions.

Images from https://earthoptimism.si.edu/http://www.progressive-charlestown.com/2015/04/earth-day-2015-balancing-act-between.html, and http://riverlink.org/earth-day-2014-5-environmental-wins-celebrate/

Saturday, May 5, 2018

My 6 Fav Maker Activities

As a Technology Specialist and Maker Lab Teacher, we get to have a lot of fun in my K-5 classrooms.  Check out this clickable infographic (hover above the fingers to see the linked hot spots) and the blurbs below to see what some of my personal favorites are through the years! The links on the infographic will take you directly to websites of instructions, images, lesson plans, or examples.


Squishy Circuits
Following up our Valentine's Day Circuit Card Creations, we had loads of fun with some conductive and insulating dough. In addition to the clickable link above, this video and these instructions were helpful. We did the activity with 2nd and 3rd graders, but any elementary students would love it!

Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season
My 4th & 5th Grade elective class had fun with this hurricane-inspired STEAM activity--timely this fall when the hurricane reports cropped up. The "Emoji Guys" and ramping up the box fan to create different categories of major win added to the elements of excitement.

Lego Landmarks
For several years now I've tied the work to Lego sculpturist Nathan Sawaya into a Maker activity with my Kindergartners. I show them a plethora of natural landmarks and iconic structures. From there, they pick one to build using Legos and take several pictures along the way using iPads to detail their design process. From there, we revisit the activity another day where they each insert their pictures in order in the Timeline app on their individual iPad so each student can show off his/her design process chronologically. This activity, of course, could work for kids at any age.

Artbot
Throughout the years, I've done a variety of artbot activities, but for my Kindergarteners this year, it was "Dollar Store electric toothbrushes and pool noodles for the win!" This simple and straightforward example was perfect for the age group and brought about delighted glee from all!

Henry "Box" Brown
Henry "Box" Brown was an enslaved man during the Civil War era who crated himself up and mailed himself to Northern freedom with the help of some abolitionists. As a natural extension within the 5th Grade Civil War Unit, after reading the picture book Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, students got into a large cardboard box to see what that would feel like. Then, using some measurement and ratios (based on both 3 inch Playmobil guys and the 6 foot height of an average adult man), kids were challenged to build a box their guy would fit in using craft sticks, tape, and heavy construction paper.

Zip Line Carrier
Everyone loves the concept of a zip line, especially when you are the one building it. Putting my Playmobil guys to use again (rather than building a Lego Creature), this STEAM activity ties really well with our 2nd graders' Business unit and their study of money. My favorite part of this too is the fact that students have to manage their budget by buying only the supplies they can afford.

For more great hands-on STEM/STEAM activities, be sure to check out the following:


Clicakable Infographic created using Canva.com & Thinglink.com.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Mother Earth & Me: Celebrating Earth Day With Smithsonian's Discovery Theater

Last week we had the great pleasure of having the Smithsonian Discovery Theater come on location to our school and present "Mother Earth & Me: Celebrate Earth Day" during Earth Week. I was blown away by the message, meaning, presentation, and power of the 4 person troupe that came to our school.

The Synopsis from their website:
Mother Earth and Me (Celebrate Earth Day)
Available Tour Dates: April 16-25, 2018
Recommended for Kindergarten-5th Grade
The magic of earth science takes center stage in this fun, interactive Discovery Theater original as we explore the origins of our planet, the water cycle, and our important role in protecting the ecosystem, as well as folklore about the “big blue marble” we call home. Kick off Earth Month by pledging to become an Earth Warrior—and find out some great ways to start right away!
The level of engagement for all, Preschool to 5th grade was high for the entire duration of their 45-60 minute presentation. We all left giving our oaths to our Mother Earth, because like a good mother she takes good care of us...so it's our job to take good care of her!

Click here to see their learning guide for this specific production.

Additionally, if you ever get an opportunity to see any of Discovery Theater's production, make sure you do!



Discovery Theater banner from https://www.facebook.com/SmithsonianDiscoveryTheater/; pictures from my camera.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Revisiting "Drawdown" and Solar & Wind Power

In revisiting Drawdown's Top 10 list I recently wrote about as ways to reduce Earth's greenhouse gases, I was certainly struck by the prevalence of alternative energy. # 2, #8, #10: wind turbines, solar farms, and rooftop solar. With Earth Day just behind us, these alternative energies have been heavy on my mind this month (as is evident from my latest posts).

I ran across this video (below) which I feel is the heart of Earth Day... and where our planet should be environmentally. I try really hard not to get enmeshed in the politics of the season beyond environmentalism here at GTG, but at times it's hard. Not to mention frustrating and aggravating. I hate seeing the climate deniers at the helm and the budgetary cuts they bring about on behalf of our planet.

I feel like this video from The Years Project encapsulates what we in America are at risk of doing--falling behind the global innovators who are trying to solve the non-partisan environmental (& economic) issues we all face daily. I'm sad to see that we as a country are not addressing (or even, at times, believing in) these issues. Luckily there are others around who are.

May we always be inspired to do better, and make the world a better place!


Clip art from https://newswire.net/newsroom/blog-post/00094186-a-homeowner-s-guide-to-alternative-energy-solutions.html; Video from https://www.facebook.com/climatereality/videos/1669452373141814/

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Why Just Settle for Earth Day: Make it an EdTech Earth Week

I have a long history of "Earth Day" being more like "Earth Week." That is what happens when you teach at a very green "Maryland 'Green' School" for 7 years...then move on to another school that you make sure you're on the committee that's committed to certifying it as a Maryland "green" school too.

(You can check out that history and get your GTG "Earth Day" history up to date by scrolling through here.)

With Earth Day falling on a Sunday this year, I vote we make this week ahead Earth Week too. (Would that be "Earth Week II?")

For some of us, that means we get to piggy back one week with another week on top! 2 weeks celebrating, honoring, and protecting the Earth! One-twenty-sixth of a year! I love it! I'll take it. It also goes to show you that it can and SHOULD be more than a day!

Here is a slew of educational technology activities that tie nicely to Earth Day. May these be a lovely way to extend and continue that celebration and protection of Mother Earth! Plus, it's through taking action and working to make a difference that we all feel like we are indeed doing something. This is what it will take to shift the pendulum to where we feel like we are standing up for what is important for us, taking advantage of innovative trends, and moving forward to where we all should be!

  • ARMAP Arctic Map
      • Use ARMAP to see the "Who, What, Where, and When of U.S. Arctic Science."

Closing with 2 #edtech #eco shares from my school this last week...from some of our youngest to our oldest at our Lower School, as shared via our Seesaw Digital Portfolio:

  • A Kindergartner's view of how we can be "helping hands" to the Earth:



Images from http://www.greenteamgazette.com/2014/07/ecs-re-greening-2014.html,  http://www.greenteamgazette.com/2017/04/earth-day-is-on-its-way-april-22.html and student digital creation this Earth Day 2018.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day 2018

The Google Doodle this weekend is just the perfect representation for Earth Day! Jane Goodall certainly is synonymous with protecting and taking care of our planet!

Have a glorious Earth Day. Do something outside today!



Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8v9MvManKE; Image from https://www.ecowatch.com/jane-goodall-power-of-corporations-is-destroying-worlds-rainforests-1882151602.html

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Earth Day 2018: How Are You Honoring The Earth This Weekend?

This weekend commemorates Earth Day 2018, with the official day tomorrow, Sunday.  No doubt, the weekend will be ripe in your community (and globally) with green fairs, eco festivals, environmental events, and more.

At the very least, it should be!

I think the best way to do honor the Earth this weekend is to focus on the question: What impact will you make?

Often we stop ourselves, wondering what in the world can one person do? Time and time again, we have visually seen those answers. Political activism is one of those times--just look how many people stood up, stepped out, took part in that march, voted, or made their voices heard.

What will you do today, or this weekend, for Earth Day? 

Here are some suggestions if you need them:

  • Get some Vitamin N: Nature! Spend time outdoors, perhaps picking up trash along the way.
  • Say no to straws or order some stainless steel ones.
  • Grab coffee in a reusable cup versus a throwaway. The same goes for water!
  • Bike or walk instead of driving where you need to go.
  • Take your reusable bags to the grocery store so you don't have to waste time or energy on single use plastic bags.
  • Think twice before wasting water, whether brushing your teeth or taking a shower.
  • Repurpose or reuse containers before throwing them out.
  • Donate some time to help someone else out: at a homeless shelter, making sandwiches, helping a neighbor with their lawn, etc.
  • Flip those lights off, and open those windows to get some fresh air.
  • Visit a park, a wildlife center, or go for a hike.
  • Unplug. Step away from those screens.
  • Plant some flowers, some trees, or a garden.
  • Pass up the plastic bottles.
  • Make a salad and forego the fast food, eating clean instead.
  • Install a rain barrel.
  • Spread the word on social media that it's Earth Day, sharing eco ideas along the way.
  • Go vegetarian for the day, or go "Meatless Monday" for the next few weeks.
  • Visit a farmer's market.
  • Refuse, reduce, reuse, then recycle. In that order.

Or simply share below some other ideas to keep the ripples of ideas moving forward.


Earth Day image created at canva.com; Dalai Lama quote/picture from https://pixteller.com/designs/others/dalai-lama-quote-id121525

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Drawdown's Top 10 To Drop Down Greenhouse Gases

I've recently been reading the book "Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming," edited by Paul Hawken. The book details Project Drawdown and it's ambitious plan to bring together 200+ scientists and researchers around the globe to analyze and rank 100 solutions to reverse the effects of climate change and global warming. Additionally, with the efforts to do this by 2050. In the book they detail what each option would look like by ranking based on the number of gigatons reduces of carbon dioxide, the economic net cost, and the economic net savings.

The term "drawdown" (as stated in the book & their website) "is that point in time at which greenhouse gases peak and begin to decline on a year-to-year basis"(page x in the Forward). They have broken their solutions into the following categories: Energy, Food, Women and Girls, Buildings & Cities, Land Use, Transport, and Materials... and they also share 20 "Coming Attractions" of innovative ideas on the horizon that have environmental potential.

The top 10 alone are fascinating, and speak once again to the fact that innovation is the key to solving our environmental issues:
  1. Refrigeration Management (HFC's & previous ozone depleters)
  2. Wind Turbines (Onshore)
  3. Reduced Food Waste
  4. Plant Rich Diet
  5. Tropical Forest Restoration & Recovery
  6. Educating Girls
  7. Family Planning
  8. Solar Farms
  9. Silvopasture (cattle in treed, not cleared, pastures)
  10. Rooftop Solar
Here's a video of Paul Hawken discussing Project Drawdown with Bill Maher. (It is Bill Maher, so this is mostly PG-13, except for about 6:30 and 7:50 in. Therefore, the information here is more for the adults in the room.)


To learn more about Project Drawdown, check out their website, especially their Frequently Asked Questions page. Also online (or in the book), you can see the entire listing by rank.


Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1wXHx2DsSU; book cover from https://www.amazon.com/Drawdown-Comprehensive-Proposed-Reverse-Warming/dp/0143130447/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1521212923&sr=8-1&keywords=drawdown; graph from Drawdown's Facebook page: https://www.amazon.com/Drawdown-Comprehensive-Proposed-Reverse-Warming/dp/0143130447/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1521212923&sr=8-1&keywords=drawdown

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Solar Panel Sightings & Classroom Resources

One of my daily rituals on the way to driving to school is to check out the several houses en route that  have solar panels. They change seasonally, even daily:
  • Blankets of snow on them in the winter;
  • The sliding, gliding snow melt as the sun above warms them;
  • Dew on early morning;
  • Reflecting the sun, reflecting the clouds.
We've watched as more have appeared on our route over the years. My son points them out. We even got to witness the overnight appearance on one house as they were adding more. These silent storehouses of energy strike me as soldiers, attentive, standing firm, doing their job.

I must say, I'm proud of them. They are a stunningly gorgeous, a symbol of innovation. It is the countries that lead in alternative energy such as sun and wind that will succeed in making our planet ready to face the future!


Below are some kid-friendly facts and lessons plans/activities for parents & teachers alike:





Wednesday, April 11, 2018

#Plogging: For Both You & Your Planet!

A new fitness trend is sweeping the nation (though one might argue it's not as new as the notoriety it's been getting). "Plogging" is the latest rage, a trend that originated in Sweden.  What is plogging, you ask?

Plocka upp (Swedish for "picking up trash") + Jogging = Plogging

The premise behind plogging (or "trash running") is simple: grab your running shoes & a trash bag (and maybe even a pair of gloves) to help both you and your health, and that of the planet!


Though the rage this season in media, it actually tracks back to 2016 via social media. But it's gained new momentum in the news and the U.S. nonprofit organization with February's "Keep America Beautiful" campaign.

As with much of everything, there's an app for that. The Lifesum Interantional Health app allows you to track plogging to raise awareness of the amount of plastic pollution that is out there.

Plogging also has additional health benefits as it incorporates squats in the "picking up" portion of your exercise regime. By building in those squats, you are able to burn more calories according to some sources (235 calories an hour, versus 288 cal/hr. from jogging alone). Plus it increases your balance and flexibility. Additionally, the extra weight of your growing bag of trash helps build up those arm muscles too!

To really learn more, go on Twitter and just search up #plogging. You'll find a slew of real life examples of people out there helping the pollution problem of our planet!

I personally know my knees would never be able to handle it.  I might have to take up #Plalking instead! ;-)  Sounds like a great thing to do this month of Earth Day!

Banner created at Canva.com;  video from https://youtu.be/71xqaqyoOAk; image from https://www.kab.org/news-info/affiliate-updates/we-love-%E2%80%98plogging%E2%80%99%E2%80%A6and-you-should-too

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Earth Day 2018: Teaching Activities & Lesson Plans


As a Part 2 of my Earth Day 2018 Series...

Here's a baker's dozen of links (in absolutely no order) that takes you beyond Earth Day Network. These will connect you to a multitude of resources out there to inspire you for planning your Earth Day classroom (or even home) activities.

The best part... these aren't just limited to Earth Day. It makes for a grand excuse to make everyday Earth Day!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Earth Day 2018: History & The Network

April 22nd, 1970 was a day that will live in history.  That marked the very first Earth Day, nearly 5 decades ago. This video gives a great overview on Earth Day and how it all began.



The Earth Day Network is your go-to place to learn all about it.  "End Plastic Pollution" is the theme
for this year. There's a bounty of educational resources here:

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Earth Day Series: Teaching Resources!


Video found on https://www.plt.org/educator-tips/earth-day-activities/, originally on https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=175&v=6WA8FpGI5Sw; logo from https://www.earthday.org/

Saturday, March 31, 2018

There's a New Shopping Mall in Town... Well, Sweden

I remember in high school, hanging out at the mall was a Saturday night social event.

While I'm not a big shopper nor mall-goer now, here's something I'd love to see more of. A Recycle Mall! It's kind of the perfect pairing between the traditional-style mall and a donation center. Check out the video to see Sweden's innovation in action: the World's First Recycle Mall.

The governing rules: Repair. Reuse. Refurbish. Recycle.

The store: ReTuna Ã…terbruksgalleria,

My thoughts: What a great way to responsibly manage waste!

Their website: https://www.retuna.se/  (Of course, reading Swedish will help!  But, here's their English Translated page.)
 

Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=id9I9o6yxC8, logo from https://www.retuna.se/

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Smartstrand Carpet Challenge

Recently my family decided after 10 years in our house, it was time to get new carpet. Our demands (with kids and dogs) were simple: dirt-colored. We'd had enough of the light beige that too easily showed the wear and tear of family life (and which was probably put in right before we bought our house to make it look all shiny and new. Light colored carpet never looks like that!)

As we were looking at samples, and deciding on a dirt-colored gray for our living room and a dirt-colored brown for the 3 upstairs bedrooms, hallway, and two stairwells, we landed on two we liked. As we were talking to the fellow who was in our home showing us the carpet samples, my li'l #eco brain started getting excited. The two carpets we landed on had a hefty eco-history built in. Our gray living room choice is made out of 100% plastic bottles. This makes for a nice companion to our bamboo-flooring TV room! (It's the little things in life that excite us).

The tan-neutral that we chose for the bigger collection of rooms and stairs also had a nice eco-element: it too is composed of renewable resources. Another big win for this girl! We were told it was 50% corn sugar and 50% plastic bottles. Apparently, after some research, maybe not so much, but close. This girl is still excited by the Triexta PPT/Sorona/SmartStrand carpet fiber: up to 37% corn sugar (also called 'corn glucose') and recycled materials. Additionally, with it being less chemical-based in creation, there is significantly less off-gassing of VOC's (or 'volatile organic compounds') than regular carpets. Add in it's "hydrophobic" and does not absorb easily. Another win for TeamGTG!

But possibly the most interesting "curb appeal" of SmartStrand carpet is in the video below--which takes place at a zoo! Watch the video here (or here below) to see the SmartStrand Carpet Challenge in action with rhinos, elephants, and camels. There may be hope for our house yet! ;-)




Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWCH51yYziY, images from my house

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Tonight's The Night! Earth Hour 2018: #Connect2Earth


Tonight's the night ~ Earth Hour 2018! 
Lights out from 8:30--9:30 pm in your time zone.
Take a stance and make a stand for our Earth, our environment! 
Be a part of the millions of people, businesses, & landmarks
 to shine a light by going dark!

Check out my previous post for specifics on Earth Hour. (and some ideas for how to spend your hour switched off and unplugged). Additionally, watch this video to #Connect2Earth and keep the conversation going after your dark part of Earth Hour!



Logo from https://www.earthhour.org/ Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hr1rC6Dut-U

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Earth Hour 2018

Mark your calendar for Earth Hour 2018

This Saturday, March 24th 8:30--9:30 pm

Turn off your lights in your time zone to be a part of the global movement for sustainability.

Earth Hour is one of my annual favorite eco-holidays. I've been participating and writing about Earth Hour since 2009...which would make this our 10th year (out of World Wildlife Fund's 12 years of Earth Hour). I like that it's a way of purposeful taking part in something bigger than ourselves--uniting people to emphasize the importance of protecting the planet. Additionally, it's a way of purposefully unplugging for an hour. Yes, we can do it--and if you look at everyone making small steps simultaneously, then you start to see the depth of that impact in a big way.

This video gives an insight as to what Earth Hour is all about and why you want to participate by turning off your lights.



Go to Earth Hour's website to learn more, get their marketing logos & banners, check out their blog, and download their toolkits for communities/organizations, schools, scouts, individuals, corporations, and hotels.

What are you going to do for Earth Hour?

If you're not sure, try out one of these ideas:
  • Send the video and web site www.earthhour.org around to your family & friends and pass the word to #Connect2Earth!
  • Stock up on candles and light them up as you knock out all your other lights at 8:30 pm.
  • Unplug and have some good ole fashioned non-tech time.
  • Play a game of night time Hide & Seek.
  • Have a candlelight dinner... perhaps al fresco.
  • Roast some marshmallows over a bonfire with good friends.
  • Take a moonlit stroll.
  • Spend some time in reflection and meditation.
  • Play board games with your family by flashlight.
  • Go stargazing.
  • Take a night hike.
  • Tell ghost stories.
  • Take time having great conversations and quality time with someone you love.
  • ...the sky is the limit! Create your own fun! Let me know what you are planning to do!
  • Earth Hour 2017 Statistics


Earth Hour Logo and images from https://www.earthhour.org/

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Grand Adventures with Green Screen

I've written about a lot of #green here at Green Team Gazette--green, from the #eco standpoint. This time, green takes a bit of a different driection. More of a "tech-ified" direction, going with my other love: #EdTech! Plus, the perfect color for St. Patty's Day today!

My role as a Lower School Technology teacher has me all over my school, bulking up on my steps on my Fitbit while working with students and brainstorming with teachers. I love that I get to dabble here, there, and everywhere, "talk tech" with all--something I love to do. Sometimes brilliance happens in these casual "what if" or "what can we do" conversations... then takes on a life of its own.

That's kind of the way it's been happening in the planning stages of some activities over the last year and a half when it comes to green screening.

For those of you who don't know what a green screen is, think about the weather portion on the nightly news. Back in the day, those weather maps were largely done via green screen technology, and the meteorologist needed to make sure not to wear that color or else Dubuque, Iowa and it's storm front might swish across his or her outfit rather than behind his/her back. These days, smart screens and computers might be more what is making the weather map show up.

Green screen technology has a lot of draw in the classroom: student engagement, motivation, collaboration, creativity, and the design process of the maker movement. Not to mention it is fun, and brings writing, information, presentations, and skits to life in an entirely new way.  In the past, we've created environmental travel infomercials with 4th and 5th graders, United States regions reports with 3rd graders, and a historic trip on the "Road to the US Revolution" with our 4th graders.

Our latest adventure in green screening was with 2nd grade. We recently finished a unit with Second Graders on the innovation and impact of 8 game-changing inventions over time. Our school news writer beautifully wrote about it here! Plus, at that link, you can see our movie debut and final project (created with the DoInk, PicCollage, and iMovie apps).

If you are ready to dive into the wonderful world of green to up your student engagement, here are some great links & resources to check out:


Now, all you need to do is load up your camera, hang a green screen (I got mine relatively inexpensively on Amazon.com--the Dollar Store or fabric store is another great place to shop), and start filming!

Weather map image from https://filmora.wondershare.com/video-editing-tips/how-to-shoot-a-green-screen-video.html, my green screen office (and red arms) from https://www.severnschool.com/page/Severn-News?pk=935177. Title header created in Canva.com

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

World Water Day 2018: March 22nd

We are in the season of environmental days:
  • International Day of Forests, Next Wednesday:
    • Created by the United Nations General Assembly
    • Annually March 21st since 2012
  • Earth Hour is coming up: 
    • Annually the 4th Saturday of March since 2007
    • This year, March 24th--stay tuned for up-coming posts!
  • Earth Day is a month away:
    • Annually April 22nd since 1970
    • Definitely, more to follow!


And then there's World Water Day, which is next Thursday: March 22nd. Celebrated annually since1993, World Water Day is an international observance to bring about active awareness and consciousness about how vital water is to each of us on this planet. Unfortunately, clean, safe drinking water is a commodity which not everyone can access.

The theme this year is "Nature for Water." The focus is on how to use nature to best support our current day environmental concerns for water. Their fact sheet is chock-full of both statistics (like in the video below) as well as some ways nature-based solutions to guide our management of this precious resource.

Here's a video I created using Adobe Spark with images provided on World Water Day's Resource page. May it inspire you in multiple ways to think twice before that long shower or that running faucet while you brush your teeth.




For more environmental days to mark your calendar, check out these 3 sites:



Calendar clip art from http://clipartpen.com/clipart-pen/calendar-eting-pencil-and-in-color-calendar-clipart-55360/; logo from http://worldwaterday.org/, video created on Adobe Sparks with images from World Water Day's Resource Page: https://spark.adobe.com/video/n3uP8TOXpRgGB