Saturday, November 10, 2018

Hello Ruby

A good picture book takes you places.

With Hello Ruby, that "place" is within the computer, coding and exploring:
"Meet Ruby―a small girl with a huge imagination, and the determination to solve any puzzle. As Ruby stomps around her world making new friends, including the Wise Snow Leopard, the Friendly Foxes, and the Messy Robots, kids will be introduced to the fundamentals of computational thinking, like how to break big problems into small ones, create step-by-step plans, look for patterns and think outside the box through storytelling. Then, these basic concepts at the core of coding and programming will be reinforced through fun playful exercises and activities that encourage exploration and creativity. In Ruby's world anything is possible if you put your mind to it."
Ruby is a whimsical character that invites readers into coding and computational thinking. She is the main character in the 3 book series "Hello Ruby."
Linda Liukas, Finish author and creator of the Hello Ruby series, programmer, founder of Rails Girls, and CodeAcademy alumni,

Hello Ruby links to inspire educators:

Linda Luikas' website

Linda Luikas TEDResidency Talk: Crawling into Coding

Linda Luikas' TED Talk: The Poetry of Programming

Video from, images from!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Diving into Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree is NOT just for Halloween STEM Activities.

It is an integrated program and a philosophy--one based on the importance of environmental literacy using trees and forests as the window on the world." As any environmental educator will tell you, it is through knowing the world and nature around you that you become connected and committed to conserve it. Project Learning tree does this through its curriculum, its professional development, and the network of support it offers.
in promoting eco-stewardship. Their avenue: taking the learning outside, "

Those are all great ways to fend of #NatureDeficitDisorder!

Take a peak into the minds and hearts of 13 Inspiring Examples of Young Environmentalists. Here, you'll see the following young activists dive in with their heart, for the betterment of their community and our world. Cheers to these environmental youngsters:
  1. Alex Lin: Reducing eWaste
  2. Green Ambassadors in Houston, Texas: Transforming a "Food Desert into a 'Greenbelt'
  3. Destiny Watford: Creating a Solid Waste Incinerator
  4. "Students for Sustainabiliy" Club in Washington State: Realizing Reforestation
  5. Ta’Kaiya Blaney: Singing Activist
  6. Cole Rasenberge: Challenging Fast Food Packaging Industry 
  7. Baltimore High School Students: Transforming a Dumping Site
  8. Olivia Bouler: Fundraiser for Gulf Coast Oil Spill Relief
  9. Livermore, California Middle School Students: Reducing Campus Waste
  10. Jersey City 8th Graders: Driving a Drone to Map Trees
  11. Salt Lake City, Utah High School Students: Converting a Bus to Biofuel
  12. San Lorenzo Valley High School Students in California: Organizing an Environmental Conference.
  13. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and more: Suing the Government for “their failure to protect the atmosphere and their future.”

For your own deeper dive into the environment via PLT, follow these 13 environmental examples. Here's a list of some other Project Learning Tree resources:

Project Learning Tree's Mission & History

~Curriculum Offerings, by Grade Level
Activities for Families

Downloadable Green School Investigations

Environmental Education Resources

STEM Strategies

Educator Tips

Recommended Reading, by Grade Level

PLT Logo from, video from

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Donate a Birthday

My birthday is next week. Not a "big" one, but I'm getting close, only a year away to "a big one."

After listening to one of my favorite podcasts, the Model Health Show, I was inspired. I think this year I'm going to donate my birthday--in 1 of 2 ways.

Shawn Stevenson, my Model Health guy, is always chock-full of great ideas. But I must say, it wasn't Shawn who inspired me to donate my birthday. It was his guest Scott Harrison of Charity: Water on Episode 314: The Surprising Benefits Of Helping Others & The Truth About Thirst.

Not only is Scott's story compelling, but it's also a carries environmental bookends given his family's monoxide poisoning in their new home when he was a boy to his inspiration to create Charity: Water.

Additionally, here are some facts about clean water--and the lack there of:

  • 663 million people worldwide live without access to clean water. (That's almost 1 in 10 people--or twice the population of the US.)
  • Women and girls are impacted the most--they are primarily the ones who walk miles/hours to get clean water, carrying 40 pound canisters of water--sacrificing their education and sometimes even their personal safety.
  • Diseases from dirty water cause more deaths (especially among the young) than all forms of violence--including war.
  • Donations to Charity: Water has funded nearly 30,000 projects--with all public donations going to the projects (versus any kind of internal financial management or salaries.)
  • $30 is enough to provide clean water for one person.

To learn more or get involved.

Watch the video below:

Listen to or watch Shawn Stevenson's podcast with Scott Harrison.

Check out Charity: Water's website.

Read Scott Harrison's book Thirst. (100% of the proceeds of the book go to fund Charity: Water projects worldwide).

Revisit a past GTG post: Water, Water, Charity: Water.

Donate your birthday or consider a monthly donation via "The Spring."

This is where I'm going to start for my birthday. Let me know if you want to join me.

Video from, images from and and

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween 2018

In thinking about what to post here for Halloween this year, I ran across this picture, and it seemed to speak to me the loudest. 

Midterm elections are around the corner, less than a week away. Have a safe and joyous Hallowed Eve tonight with your friends, family, neighbors, or young'uns.... And next week, go out, be an active & concerned citizen, show up, vote for what's important to you.

With Veteran's Day right around the corner after Election Day, it may be a good way to thank that Veteran who fought on your behalf, for your freedom, for your rights. Fought against the racial hierarchy of Nazism, fought for equality, fought to protect and defend our constitution, and fought to protect us from tyranny.

Voter turnout for presidential elections are notoriously low... even worse for midterm elections. For the presidential election in 2016 I did a tech “voter turnout” activity with the 3rd Grade. I was shocked by the numbers who turn out across both parties every 4 years for our presidential elections: range 49% — 62% (from the last 100 years). 

My hope: we have motivated people who show up. 

If you are on the fence. Vote. 
If you are satisfied. Vote.
If you are dissatisfied. Vote. 
If you care for the environment. Vote
If you are concerned. Vote. 
Enjoy your Halloween tonight... but next week: Vote!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Project Learning Tree: Halloween STEM Challenges

With Halloween just around the corner, perhaps Project Learning Tree is the place to go to get some class-time, kid-time, party-time, or creativity-time inspiration.  Their moniker: "Make Learning Fun." Isn't that really how it should be? If it's motivating and engaging, it draws kids in, and it is indeed fun.

Well, one way to do that is to offer some Halloween STEM Challenges. The titles alone are inviting (listed by category):
    1. Spider Webs
    2. Paper Bats
    3. "Bone" Bridge
    4. Articulated Hand
    1. Pumpkin Investigations
    2. 5 Little Pumpkins
    3. Candy Pumpkin Catapults
    4. Pumpkin Elevators
    5. Germinating Pumpkins
    1. Candy Corn Chemistry
    2. Frankenworms
    3. Monster Science Experiment
    1. Ghost Rockets
    2. Floating Ghosts
    3. Mummifying Apples

Image from

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Return to Roofs: Replacing Ours!

It was a dark and stormy night.

Sounds like a typical beginning to a Halloween-themed story.

Unfortunately, it's not just a story, it had become our reality after a very wet summer and fall. The rainy nights led to dripping ceiling and drips coming down the wall, right in our bedroom. There's nothing like the gentle plop plop plop of water hitting the buckets. All. Night. Long.

Yes, it's actually a pretty frightful story indeed, especially on a home that's only 30 years old. But somewhere before us, two layers of roofing had been laid, so we bought the bullet--and a brand new roof.

Not a green roof, but of course, as with everything, I view all new major purchases through an environmental lens when I can.

Having never replaced a roof before, we got a bit of education along the way.

We went with GAF Timberline shingles. Here's some roofing environmental fun facts--some of which are GAF specific. (And no, unfortunately, they aren't paying me in free roofs to say this. Not one single shingle!)

  • The shingles (& the way they are now made) today, the darker shingles absorb less heat than when our house was first constructed 30 years ago.

Now... if only there were solar panels up there too.

Hmm... maybe that's our next big home improvement--it certainly would be a dream come true! Maybe one day!

House from my camera, shingle picture from, Snoopy pic from

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Green Roofs

Once, a long time ago (about 7 years), I helped to build a green roof, on the roof of the greenest school in the world. Unfortunately, about 4.5 years that school shut down. It still breaks my heart.

I did a drive-by about 2 weeks ago, and well... sadly that green roof is not being maintained well. But... I digress.

What is a green roof? and Kids.Net.Au both have a straightforward rundown on why they are so helpful for reducing storm runoff and other perks.

Additionally, there are these videos. Seems to me, everyone would want to have one!!

Video from and

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

More on Digital Citizenship during #DigCitWeek 2018

With it being Digital Citizenship Week, the conversation continues.

Let's start with ISTE's "Citizenship in the Digital Age" infographic (click the title for a larger view. Additionally, anyone who's been around for awhile knows I'm a huge fan of infographics!)

But here is one of my favorite graphics--the one that one of my classes of  5th grade students brainstormed and created about the pros and cons of technology here in our Digital Citizenship Series!!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Digital Citizenship Week: October 15-19

Two weeks ago we started our digital citizenship series with our 5th graders--an annual event that occurs seemingly earlier and earlier every year. Not surprising as it seems cell phones (and tablets) come to our teens and pre-teens earlier and earlier. This year, it played closer to our typical beginning of the year technology classes tied with the Acceptable Use Policy and the importance of being safe, being responsible, and being respectful when online.

Given my role as Lower School Tech Specialist, I'm sort of the "iPad Lady," who comes into each classroom once a week (in addition to their regularly scheduled Tech class), teaching a coordinated lesson tying in technology. It is one that I have planned with the homeroom teacher. For this series, however, #DigCit IS the focus and the lesson itself.

I introduced the topic by emptying my regular school bag one at a time with many of my regular items: 2 laptops, power cord, bag of chargers, my iPad, my phone, nifty screen cleaner, my earbuds, and even my Computer History ticket badge! They easily noticed the theme, and both classes (unbeknownst to each other) called me the tech-version of Mary Poppins with my endless bag of goodies. They saw the tech connection, and we talked about my mutual love/hate relationship with technology. Seems they shared the same vision!

I showed them the Harvard Innovation Lab video "Evolution of a Desk" and we talked about how technology has transformed our lives in just their lifetime and a little beyond. Given it was a tech talk, students completed a digital survey that I created via Seesaw, our digital learning journal that parents are connected to. My students listed the advantages and disadvantages of tech--and surprisingly, the "cons" list was longer than the "pros."

Good discussions abounded in both classes! In the weeks ahead, I'll share more of our digital citizenship discoveries and exploration. Until then, here are some inspirational resources to set off Digital Citizenship Week, which starts this Monday, October 15th.

✦ Common Sense Media's Digital Citizenship Portal
For 15 years, Common Sense Media has been the go-to place for ratings, reviews, & resources for all sorts of media. It makes sense they would have lessons by grade level, classroom postersfamily media agreements, interactives, articles about kids' digital well-being, plus more.

✦ Be Internet Awesome
Google's digital citizenship curriculum and online game platform Interland.

✦ ISTE Digital Citizenship Insights
The International Society for Technology and Education is the center of edtech standards. In addition to articles, there are professional development resources, infographics, and so much more.

✦ EdWeb Webinars on Digital Citizenship
I'm a big fan of EdWeb's webinars. Great experts sharing super information on a lot of subjects.

✦ iOS 12 Screen Time
A list of all the features that Apple has created with the latest update to tackle distractions and monitor the amount of time you are spending on your devices.

✦ EGUSD's Digital Citizenship Portal
California's Elk Grove Unified School District's website and collection detailing their program to teach "the safe, effective and ethical use of digital technologies" to their students.

Talking with Teens About Instagram
Tied in with Scholastic, these two are working together to talk about social media and making a positive impact on kids' worlds.

✦ #DigCitCommit
The Twitter hashtag addressing the question to teacher: "what are you committing to teaching your students this year?"

Images from and and

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

7 Billion Dreams. 1 Planet. Consume With Care.

No words in this video (which is now over 3 years old), but it certainly does make an impact, leaving you thinking.

What will your impact be on these (now) 7.6 billion dreams?

Video from UN Environment for the 2015 World Environment Day (June 5th Annually)

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Little Free Libraries

When we were out in Silicon Valley, doing my little scavenger hunt of technology's historic sites, almost right across the street from the HP garage there was a little free library. I'm kicking myself for not taking photos of the few I saw, as they were just downright darling. Not to mention, they are a great little neighborhood discovery, and also a sweet treat to inspire reading... AND recycling.

Little did I know, though, that these are bigger than the little guys lead you to think. Yes, I've seen them before in a different places, but I didn't know they were "a thing." As in, an Internet sensation kind of thing. According to their website, they have over 75,000 Little Libraries registered in over 88 countries. That's a total thing!! And it's making me want one for our neighborhood!

Check out their website to learn more or to...

Video from; logo from and photo from

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Stone & Soil & A World Map to Scale

This definitely falls in the category of places I'd love to visit one day! 
Of course, Denmark isn't quite in my neighborhood.

Verdenskortet (Map of the World) is a walkable map of all globe on the banks of Denmark's Lake Klejtrub was created by Søren Poulsen over the course of 25 years. 4000 square meters make up the 45m x 90m map. Even more impressive, Poulsen started creating it in 1944 (at the age of 56) and continued to work on it until he died at the age of 81 in 1969.  It's truly a remarkable feat!

What a great way to spend the day outdoors, exploring the world on this map!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Tempestry: A Temperature Tapestry

I'm very crafty, but I don't knit or a crochet. But I'm very visual & love the use of the yarn arts to tell a story.

It is from this place that The Tempestry Project began.

What is a tempestry? It's essentially a temperature tapestry of 365 rows to showcase the daily temperature for a year. The creators of this project set a defined color spectrum to universalize the palette to coordinate with temperatures ranging from -30°F to 120°F. Hotter temperatures are showcased with reds, whereas blues and greens represent the colder temperatures. The statistical data of temperatures comes from NOAA. By doing multiple years and multiple tempestries of the same city, you can see the change in climate over time when you lay them side by side. It becomes a graph made of fibers--helping to visualize the data. It also becomes obvious (as seen in this next photo below) that our planet is indeed heating up due to climate change. Science is like that--the data is right there!

2 Tempestries by Staci Perry (Very Pink Knits)
Climate Data for Austin, TX: 1900 and 2017.

Here are some places to learn more about Tempestry:

Banner from The Tempestry Project's Facebook page; images from and

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Kraft Heinz's Sustainability Goals for Packaging

2025 is surprisingly not that far away, when you think of it in the grand scheme of things. 7 years. That's virtually around the corner--especially for this kid, who was born in the in the last 1960s!

The 7 year goal for Kraft Heinz Company is to continue to "go green," moreso than ever before with 100% of their "packaging globally recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025." What that looks like, however, is yet to be seen as they are still crafting what their packaging will look like. But, a positive plan for our planet and its sustainability is always a good thing!! There's a great "Now This" video that details the complexities of recycling the foil packets here.

Cheers to the future of our fries, and more importantly, our ketchup!! (As the Mother Nature Network put it--this could be "the new straw" when it comes to environmental responsibility!)

Check out their Sustainability page to learn even more about the Kraft Heinz Company and their commitment toward environmental stewardship.

Image from

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A Mount Everest-Sized Trash Problem

When we think of Mount Everest, we think of bold adventurers, daring men and women with
amazing stamina, and undeniable perseverance, strength, and fortitude--out there in nature, battling the extreme elements

We don't think of these climbers as anti-environmentalists. And yet, all of these adventurers are leaving a lot behind in their quest to reach the top and follow in the footprints of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay--the first two to reach the summit in 1953.

With the warming temperatures from climate change, snow is melting, revealing an assortment of other items left behind during the 55+ years of trekking. Add in the growing tourist trend of mountain adventurers, the trash is growing, not shrinking.

Innovators & entrepreneurs... looks like here's an environmental challenge of monumental size to tackle!

Video from; image from

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Thames Plastic Project: Future Dust

With environmentalism, we talk a lot about footprints:  carbon footprint, plastic footprint. water footprint. It all relates to usage... and usually it's too much.

Art always has a way of making the story tell so much more, and helps us visualize the reality of a situation.

Such is true with the Thames Plastic Project Installation, Future Dust.

Maria Arceo, the Spanish artist and creator of this project, lives in London. Much of her work is inspired by the human-nature relationship, and our footprint upon the earth. She's always been drawn to archaeology and oceanography, and her works reflect that, with much of her medium being the remnants of what we have left behind. From her website bio:
"Her latest line of work utilises discarded plastic objects collected from various locations in the Thames. Her sculptures with these plastics are virtual ‘Time capsules’ preserved and displayed as visual evidence of the long-term properties of these polymers."

The project started 2 years ago in September of 2016 to help clean the tidal area of London's Thames River of plastic marine debris. In addition to cleaning (by way of handpicking the trash along the shoreline), the materials were color-sorted and became the building materials for the installation. Along the way, the scientific information about how plastics photodegrade in the sun (as well as the overall environmental impact of marine debris) is highlighted to all patrons. For more on the Thames Project's research on plastics, click here.

Check out the Thames Plastic Project website to learn more. Be sure to check out their gallery to get a full view of the project.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Plant Snap App

While we were in California this summer, my husband, who has a far greener thumb than I, became curious about the many plants that were in the courtyard of one of our hotels. Naturally, being on the other coast from where we live, the plants were different--built more for the dry climate of the San Francisco Bay area.

I, of course, had no information. Our conversation led to: "There's got to be an app for that." In the early days of apps, I knew there was one app that we had used it a time or two when we were doing some of our Maryland Park Quest activities--but I had never had great success with it. My husband started doing some digging, and what do you know--there was indeed something newer with high ratings of success: PlantSnap. He downloaded it, and I started hearing all about the African lily, the lavender, and the raspberry blackberries.

It made perfect sense to adopt a techie-approach while in Silicon Valley, the heart of innovation. It also was great to have a full database at our disposal while being out and about in the world. Now that we're home, I'm sure we'll put it to good use here too!

Job well done, Eric Ralls (Founder & CEO of PlantSnap and For those of you who want to deepen the shade of green of your thumb, PlantSnap's Blog also has some excellent information and articles! Plus, be sure to check out the videos below.

Video from and and; photo & logo from

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hometown Hot, Over The Years

It's no surprise to anyone that great content comes from the New York Times. This September, they created an interesting interactive entitled "How Much Hotter Is Your Hometown Than When You Were Born?" It's premise: to showcase how "human-induced climate change" (their words!) has caused a rise over time in the number of above-90°F days.

It's amazing how much factual data and science can tell you.

I did it for my hometown of Decatur, Illinois (along with a half dozen other cities including where I now live in Maryland) and found it somewhat shocking to see the data and trends. (It was especially noticeable here on a 90°F day as I sit and type this in the shade of my patio umbrella.) More information and projection is revealed as you continue to scroll down. Every city I did showed the same basic upwards trend, though the numbers differed significantly the closer to the equator the city fell.

This interactive would also be an excellent teaching tool for students, giving them a variety of cities to investigate.

You need to go to the New York Times interactive (click here) and plug in some of your favorite cities, hometown and otherwise. To see the data is remarkable. To see the projected numbers for when you are 80 years old might startle you. No matter what, it will cause you to take pause.

Images are screenshots from my data placed within this interactive:

Saturday, September 8, 2018

1000 Hours Outside: Revisited

At the start of the summer, I wrote about 1000 Hours Outside, an environmental trend to get yourself outdoors and in nature that may hours over the course of the year. From there I did the seasonal math (250 hours per season), and was inspired to see what I could accomplish this summer. 250 hours felt a tad intimidating, so I lowered my goal number to 200 hours outdoors, feeling that was an attainable goal, and would feel like a good accomplishment, especially for a teacher on summer vacation.

Dedicating one empty square per month on my monthly paper calendar, I adopted a simple system of tally marks, as it didn't matter so much what the count was per day for me. Being on summer vacation without the usual calendar rat-race that the school year brings, it was pretty easy to maintain, or even think back to the day before if I got a little behind in my tracking.

Now that the three full months have passed, I can do my summer accounting.  I exceeded my expectations:

I surpassed my 200 hours, and even my stretch goal of 250 hours, reaching a grand total of 269 hours.

What did I do outdoors? Vacationing in California helped, where I racked up 52 hours alone: basking in the weather, hugging redwoods, biking the Golden Gate Bridge, and visiting wine country. I walked local trails with our dog or friends, tried paddle boarding for the first time, did a little volunteering with Chesapeake Bay Foundation, went boating with friends, ate outside either at home or restaurant patios, or went to outdoor events. And largely, I hung out in my own back yard--in my proverbial happy place (my pool), but also sitting out reading, hanging with my family, or even writing blog posts such as this.

My take-aways from this little experiment:

  • Vitamin D...and Vitamin N (Nature) is addictive. Maybe it was the competitive nature of just keeping track, maybe it was all the experiences (many of them new), or maybe it was just the soaking up of the sun, the air, and even the humidity at times. It affected my happiness, my sense of calm, my sense of adventure... which I'm sure, in turn, affected my family! I feel as though this was one of my best summers ever... and I've had some pretty great summers. In fact, as I think back, it's the outdoor adventures of years past that always come back to mind.
  • I noticed my start of June (when I was still in school or attending end of the year teacher meetings) and the end of August (when I was back to business), my hours dwindled. Clearly this is going to be harder to maintain once we're back to "business as usual" this fall. However, I noticed almost a sense of withdrawal this end-of-August on those days when I was indoors too much. My surplus of hours outdoors had become a necessity! I need to remember that school work can also be done on my back patio... or outdoor breaks or adventures may be what this girl needs!
  • We had a very rainy spring as well as some major rain mid-July. (My bedroom ceiling has sadly taken notice as well!) That limited my July counts. Likewise, all this rain also raised the mosquito count in Maryland!! At one report, I heard we were 3 times higher than normal for mosquitoes! "Luckily" I'm a mosquito magnet, and even with the use of some heavy-duty bug spray, those pesky critters kept finding me. At times that also drove me to insane itching and the great indoors.  More than I would have liked, some evenings! [Spoiler alert: Mosquitoes are very sensitive to the environment, and the more temperatures raise and hurricanes hit, the more mosquitoes--including disease-carrying ones--are on the rise. Insert here: #ClimateChangeIs Real.]
  • I also noticed: the more I'm outside, the less I'm surfing social media. It especially helps since I've deleted Facebook from my phone. I can still get there if I'm willing to jump through the login hoops, but usually it's just not even worth it to go there. Yes, my iPad comes outside with me from time to time and I can still be on FB while outdoors...but even that in general has been less. Maybe too, the politics of all (that still are so bipartisanly central to FB), have left a bad taste behind. I'm going to continue to face this battle as well! Perhaps this too contributes to Bullet Point #1 above!
It's now September. What I'm going to officially deem as Fall. My September "Hours Outside" block is already labeled in my calendar, with tally marks already marked . I'm writing this outside and I'm going to bask in the pool while I still can, so at the end of the day I'll be making more tallies. Do I think I'll hit 200 or 250 by the end of November...maybe, since Fall is beautiful and festivals and better temperatures/humidity levels abound. We'll see. I know for sure that Winter will be my worst. Now that I have a 6 year history of being a Florida girl, the cold kills me. But, may all of this be inspiration to get outdoors--and a reminder of how good it feels when I get there!

Photos from my camera using the LiPix photo collage app.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Summer Sendoff & Back To School

As a teacher, the end of summer is always a cross between bittersweet and melancholy, yet with the hint of excitement to come. It's an odd combination. Parents may feel it to a degree with their kids going up to that next grade level, showing off that unauthorized growth that always seems to come whether we want it to or not.

But there's something about being a teacher and having that 8-10 weeks off in the summer. It's that time for a breathe-er, where you aren't bringing stacks of papers home to grade on the couch extending your 8 hour work day to upwards of 10-12+. There's no lesson planning, no report card writing, no substitute plans to come up with if your own child gets sick at 2 in the morning. No Professional Development meetings to attend or standards and objectives to meet.

Teacher schedules during the school year aren't like regular 9-5 jobs where you can go home and
leave it for another day. Yes, I understand most 9-5'ers don't have this level of vacation time, nor am I trying to say being a teacher is more stressful than other jobs. But due to the juggling nature of being the expert on either many subjects or grade levels, and the phone calls or emails to/from parents, the deep concerns for the social/emotional/academic progress of each child in your classroom crew... they can be exhausting. Summer brings about breathing space! It's why the summer is so therapeutic, relaxing, and necessary to teachers.  Of course, as the wind down of summer comes, so does the Pinterest searching for bulletin boards or the writing of new curricular units for the year ahead. Perhaps there's been a workshop or two, or even a professional read for those back to school meetings. A teacher's mind doesn't slow down for very long. Insert the excitement and the joy of our profession here!

According to the news feeds of Facebook, the first day photos are up and still coming! Some of my friends' kids returned to school mid August, while many ahead are not returning until this week, right after Labor Day. Teachers, of course, don't just start on that first day of school! Our students returned Wednesday, August 29th... which makes for a wonderful way to toe-dip into the start of school. 3 days with students, 3 days off due to Labor Day, a 4 day week, then into a more regular schedule. We all (teachers and students alike) are tired after those first three days!

As has been my GTG tradition, I often bid farewell to the summer, but send forth well-wishes for a
great year ahead to the teachers out there. I know how hard we all work, I know the dichotomy between the feelings of loss with the excitement ahead.

May this year be your best yet. 
May your students feel all your care and concern for them. 
May your colleagues and family members be a rock-solid support for any rough days ahead. 
May you always remember you are scultping our future citizens and leaders,
Cheers to a wonderful year!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Climate Change Vacation Education

If you've been paying any attention at all, you know the last handful of posts have been highlighting different elements of my summer trip to Silicon Valley and the Greater San Francisco Area. Between the edtech and eco arenas of Green Team Gazette, there's been a lot from that trip that's been relevant!

Twice when we were biking in San Francisco, leading up to the Golden Gate Bridge, we encountered educational conversations along the way about climate change. Both were striking and very telling. The first was outside the Warming Hut--a planned stop along the way to provide bikers or hikers with restrooms, a cafe, and a souvenir shop. Bikes galore were parked, and there we encountered this globe statue, with the following plaque. Clearly it was not accidental. Here is a wealth of resources from the Institute at the Golden Gate that highlight the use of National Park as educational sources.

Text: "Spread the Word" Global warming must become part of our culture's political and social consciousness. Al Gore has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for drawing the world's attention to the dangers of global warming. His efforts to spread the word about climate change in the Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, have reached millions of people.

At the Climate Project, 1,000 lecturers are being trained to present a scientific slide show on global warming to hundreds of thousands more people around the world. You too can help. Whether you're at the gym, a PTA meeting, a cocktail party, or a business meeting--speak up for saving the environment.

Artist: Vance Williams, "Spread the Word." Sponsor: Crate and Barrell

The view

Secondarily, as we continued along, we hit Fort Point, the fort right at the base of the bridge. Again, the placards were telling. Climate change is real, and it is a real concern that I wish our current adminsitration and EPA valued.

Text:  Measure for Sea Level:  This pole marks projected future sea levels and storm surge levels. Rising waters could dismantle this venerable fortress.  
17' --  Projected high tide in 2300 plus storm surge
12' --  projected high tide in 2300
11' --  Elevation of parking lot
8' --  Projected high tide in 2100 plus storm surge
5' --  Current storm surge plus wave pile-up
3' --  Projected high tide in 2100
0' --  Average high tide in 2000
-1' --  Average high tide in 1865, the year Fort Point was completed

Photos from our adventures along the way, and our cameras!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Dynamic Duo of Tech Museums: The Tech Museum of Innovation & The Computer History Museum

I've talked about Dynamic Duo's before, both here and here.

I think I may have landed the "edtech-ie-est" duo of them all.  The Tech Museum of Innovation (in San Jose) and the Computer History Museum (in Mountain View, CA). Located a mere 13 miles from each other, in the heart of Silicon Valley, they work together nicely to give you a view of our techie past and take you well into our techie present and future.

As you can imagine, my trek to San Francisco & Silicon Valley certainly included the two of these museums... and a crazy number of photos taken at both. If you ever have the chance to visit in person, you should.

The Computer History Museum (CHM)

Exhibits while I was there:
  • Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing: From the abacus to mainframes to where we are today! This is where I spent the most time. It was amazing and awe-inspiring to be surrounded by the number of artifacts (approximately 1,100...including the 1978 Merlin, which I loved as a kid!)
  • Make Software: Change the World
  • Thinking Big: Ada Lovelace: Dating back to the mid 1800s, Ada was a mathematician and a woman ahead of her time. 
  • Where To? Another favored area, where you got the opportunity to sit in a self-driving car. While in the Silicon Valley area, we actually saw two of these on the streets!!
  • IBM 1401 Demo LabThis room-sized computer takes you literally back in time to 1959
  • PDP-1 Demo LabAnother flashback to 1959 and the "one-ton minicomputer." These two rooms really show you how far we have come (as I took a picture of them on my smartphone hand-held computer!)
Resources for You To Explore:
The Tech Museum of Innovation

The Tech Tag: Coming home with "digital mementos" of our experience there was pretty darn cool.

The Exhibits while I was there
  • BioDesign Studio
  • Body Metrics
  • Body Worlds Decoded: This was incredible with the plastinated bodies and slices of true parts. They also provided you with a tablet so you could see artificial reality images popping up on hot spots right there in the museum to truly make the learning come to life! I also liked the huge, table-sized touch screen computer where you could see right inside the human body!
  • Cyber Detectives: Perfect for anyone who likes code breaking!
  • Exploration Gallery: The Shake Platform simulated what a California Earthquake feels like. Feeling that magnitude of 6.7 was stronger than this Maryland and Midwest girl has ever felt!!
  • Innovations in Health Care: Another one of my favorite exhibit. This is always where I feel innovation is going to be the key to solving so many of our global issues.
  • Reboot Reality: "A Digital Experience Lab" where you can experience "immersive media." We loved the Animaker, where you used Legos to create animals, then it virtually created that animal from scanning your Legos, then popped it up on the animated big screen!
  • Social Robots
  • The Tech for Global Good
  • The Tech Studio (A Maker Space on steroids, with just about any material you could think of to build with!)
  • Unfortunately, the IMAX was down until November 2018 for renovations.
Resources for You To Explore:

Luckily though for the rest of us, there are so many online resources, you can soak it up from... you computer, of course!

Images from my camera! Compilations made using the LiPix app.  Logos from each museum's website!