Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Online Learning: "Disasters & Ecosystems: Resilience in a Changing Climate"

"Love of learning" is a phrase that is in my school's mission statement, and as educators, it's our driving force: both for our students and ourselves. If you have a love of learning and a passion for environmentalism, especially in this era of storms and rapid evidence of climate change, this free online class might be an opportunity you want to pursue.

ADPC (the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center) is offering a MOOC entitled "Disasters and Ecosystems: Resilience in a Changing Climate." MOOC stands for "Massive Open Online Course."

Given we still have two more months of hurricane season, it might be the perfect season to sharpen your knowledge base about climate change and how it impacts our weather systems, environment, and planet.

This video gives you a sneak peak into what the course will be about.

ADPC offered this course in 2015 (launched by the Technical University of Cologne, Germany & UN Environment)--with over 12,000 people taking part. It's back again, with a collection of experts, offering two learning tracks: a 6-hour leadership track and a 15-hour expert track. Some of the issues they will address included community resilience, sustainability, ecosystem management, ways to reduce disaster risk, climate change and more. Sessions are 30-40 minutes with reading materials, videos, online quizzes, discussions, and interactives, and more.

The online class is self-paced, opening this week on September 18th, 2017 and this learning module will close March 17, 2018. Upon completion, participants receive an online certificate. The Expert Track requires completion of the Leadership Track and has a smaller open window of November 20--December 31, 2017 and will include designing an Eco-DRR project. You can learn more about this ADCP MOOC here.

Look forward to seeing you in the learning modules!

Images from and; Video from

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Jane Goodall's Masterclass

Jane Goodall's conservation MasterClass is coming this fall, to a computer near you.

Think about it. How often can you learn from the experts? If you are lucky, you are in the right place at the right time and can get to hear a person speak at a conference or festival.

I had that opportunity, ironically the day after Dr. Goodall's 73rd birthday on April 4, 2008. My school at the time, Eagle Cove School, was hosting a "Roots & Shoots" Fair and we were fortunate enough to have her as a guest speaker. She started her talk as she often does, hooting like a chimpanzee. Memorable!

This fall, she's working in coordination with to present 25 online lessons via video on animal insights, conservation, and activism. A downloadable class workbook and "office hours" are available. What an amazing opportunity to learn from a legend!

To get a sneak preview of your class from your instructor, watch this video below or go check out's page "Dr. Jane Goodall Teaches Conservation" page.  It might even inspire you to sign up!

Maybe this year, on your holiday or birthday wishlists, if you are someone who has everything, maybe you'll get your friends or families to give you the gift of learning. That's definitely one way to make a little less environmental footprint in "stuff," but may be a great way to grow your knowledge and environmental impact! has a wealth of other learning opportunities from experts, so maybe that wishlist of yours might grow quite long!

Video from; images from and

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Our Hurricane-Filled Hearts

My heart has been with Florida for the last week. I've been glued to the news about Hurricane Irma, watching the reports, searching out the spaghetti models, studying the changing "cone of uncertainty," stalking social media and the posts of friends and family as they have been prepping for the onslaught of this record-breaking storm.

I know about hurricanes first hand. We had to reroute our wedding 24 hours beforehand due to a power outage of our venue (for both the wedding and the reception) due to Hurricane Floyd in Maryland in 1999. About ten years ago, I lived and taught in the Tampa Bay area for 6 years. Shortly after we moved there, we experienced a tropical storm. I was a nervous wreck. Fast forward a few years, with time and experience of living in Florida, I found myself saying things like, "Oh, it's only a Category 1-2 storm, it's not that bad." Comments like that become part of the Florida culture. Ridiculous words really, ones that sound amazing to anyone who has never lived in an area with frequent hurricane watches and warnings. During the bigger storms, we headed over to the Ft. Lauderdale area to my sister-in-law's family's home. Likewise, they did the same by heading our way when storms were headed towards them.

For Hurricane Irma, my husband's sister's family, along with the estimated 6.3 million other people in Florida, evacuated. However, as Irma moved and tracked more westward, it caused more Floridians to make decisions--without the luxury of as much time. The movement of the storm more westward during its final days put all of Florida in harm's way, at one point or another. My stress level was through the roof, watching and waiting for the storm to hit... and I'm several states away! As a Florida teacher, I remember "hurricane days" off of school--they are not anything like "snow days" (which are far more relaxing). "Hurricane days" leave you with a lot of house prep and work to do--sometimes in beautiful weather where you can't believe you are a day (or hours) away from some potential destruction and disaster. You watch the littlest change in the spaghetti models and satellite tracking. I can only imagine the stress level of my friends and family as they were doing their security measures and boarding up.

On the heels of Hurricane Harvey, while watching the swirling Jose & Katia also out in the water, it begs the question, again, about climate change. I'm comforted to see Miami's Mayor Tom├ís Regalado pointedly saying to Donald Trump, “If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is."

An often-used comment when it comes to connecting hurricanes and climate change is "I'm not a scientist." Well, I'm not a scientist, but scientific facts are facts. Hurricanes form more readily over warmer water, and high water vapor causes more rain which leads to more flooding. Drought also leads to a higher likelihood of wildfires--and the west right now has a bounty of those. At this writing, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are 67 actively burning wildfires in Montana, Oregon, California, Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, and Alaska. (I purposely arranged them in order of the number of fires, from most to least.)

This short video was created a few days before Irma made landfall on Florida by "Years of Living Dangerously." It puts those scientific facts out there visually and statistically. We need the climate change conversation now. How many more horrific storms will it take to open our eyes?

My heart goes out to the people of Houston, who are still trying to rebuild their city and their lives.

My heart goes out to those who have lost everything due to raging forest fires.

My heart goes out to all of you in Florida who had to evacuate then come home to your new reality.

My heart goes out to those my friends in the Tampa area who were shaking while the wind blew during the night and the rain came pounding down.

My hope is that all of you in Florida and the Islands are safe and comforted by that amidst your loss... and that your loss, in the big picture, is very minimal.

My other hope is that people will start paying attention and tending to our planet before we have to encounter more loss due to harmful legislation and human carelessness.

video from, images from,; "Don't Pray--Vote for a Gov't" meme found circulating from many on Facebook.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

For the Love of Lego's: Wind Turbine Edition

Who doesn't love Lego's?

(Well you might not if you are a parent of a 2-8 year old who discovers one wayward Lego, hidden in the shag carpet, that you discover while walking in the middle of the night, but I digress!)

Once again, their innovation is notably top of the charts! As of May 2017, Lego was running their company on 100% renewable resources. If that isn't great enough, they're doing it 3 years ahead of their goal timeline!

How did Lego celebrate that triumph? By making a giant wind turbine made out of Lego's, of course! 146,251 Lego's and 600 hours, to be exact!

It is located outside the Liverpool ONE shopping center in the United Kingdom. The placement of this Lego Turbine was to highlight their 100% renewable energy goal and their investment in the Liverpool Burbo Bank Extension offshore wind farm.

To check out more of Lego's commitment to the environment, check out these resources:

Video from, and

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Is That a Wind Farm in Heartland?

We have arrived! With Pizza!
Every summer I take a trek to my hometown, where I grew up in Central Illinois. It's always a little bit of a "Jack Kerouac meets Chevy Chase's Vacation" in that it's typically myself as the solo driver (12-13 hours, all in one day) with two kids in tow.  I think this year marked the 10th year that we've done this trip. Given that, it's easier these days with a preteen and a not-yet-driving teenager and all the electronics we pack, but we still get a little campy and fidgety by the end, definitely ready to arrive!

But grandparent time for a week and change is worth it!

This year upon our travels (after about 775 miles, 2-dozen podcasts, 4 thermos' of green tea, and a bag of carrots in my system to help maintain an awake, car-moving stance), we noticed something different as we neared our final destination. The horizon and landscape looked a little different. A little more progressive. A little more #eco. It warmed my heart to see, yes indeed, a wind farm in the backdrop, behind the typical corn and soybeans of Central Illinois. Of course, it wasn't the only wind farm among our travels, and more and more have "cropping" up over our years of travel. But the Radford Run Wind Farm of Maroa, Illinois was certainly the closest one to home.

Construction on Radford Run started the end of August 2016, about a month after last year's trek home. 139 wind turbines are destined to cover 24,000 acres of land and call Radford Run "home." E.ON Climate & Renewables North America, the Chicago-based company that put the project into motion, counts this as their 3rd Illinois-based wind farm (of their many nation-wide wind farms). In addition to wind energy, E.ON also has several solar projects in the works Arizona and California.

Good things come all around when a wind farm goes in--more than just clean, renewable power. Road upgrades took place in my local area to accommodate the construction process. Jobs are created during the construction. Farmers and other land owners get an additional source of income. The stretch reaches out even more as it generates tax revenue which ultimately serves to improve schools and other public services.

Of course, it doesn't come without controversy!

Here is a striking map from E.On's website showing the wind power capacity of the US in Megawatts (MW). One megawatt can power approximately 250-300 homes.

Radford Run is slated to be a 278 MW farm, leading E.ON's Illinois farms to generate a total of 578 MW, powering over 180,000 homes! Proud to see that Central Illinois will be 48% of that total! Makes for a lovely drive in the countryside!

Images from my camera & map from,

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Cool Tech Tools

We have a pretty nifty little thing in the summers at our school. It's called Summer Institute, and it's professional development by our teachers AND for our teachers. It's an in-house education program where teachers can take a myriad of classes taught by their colleagues. Some are one day (9 am -- 3 pm) while others are two days, depending on the topic and depth. There's a limit, so you have to be a little bit picky. But, if you are someone who loves learning, this is certainly your cup of tea!

Of the two sessions I co-taught this summer, one was "30 Cool Tools For Tech." It was a rapid-fire of really amazing edtech tools that are out there that teachers can use to help simplify their lives, their lessons, their presentations, and their assessments.

This PowToon resentation (which indeed was one of my favorites) was created to showcase my personal top 7 favorites. Below you'll see a list of 30+ tools (both websites and apps) you might want to check out to help put a new pep in your teaching step this year ahead!

Top 7 Personal EdTech Tools Summer 2017 from Vicki Dabrowka on Vimeo.

30+ Cool Tech Tools (in alphabetical order) to inspire you this fall:
  1. Adobe Spark: Create short videos with included content/images that is simple to use. Videos can't be downloaded separately from app (online or on app)
  2. Bookwidgets: Create widgets to be used for assessment, reviews, or assignments
  3. Buncee: Online presentation maker with animations
  4. Canva: Infographic and poster creator
  5. Constitute Project: Explore world constitutions and compare side by side based on search term.
  6. EdPuzzle: Upload videos and add questions, comments, audio tracks (Formerly Zaption)
  7. Educreations: Screencasting/whiteboard app
  8. Explain Everything: Screencasting/whiteboard app that has a collaboration tool
  9. Flipgrid: A video platform where students can create mini movies to "show what they know"
  10. Google Arts and Culture: Site with interactive exhibits and art museums. Capable of zooming into some art with incredible closeness
  11. Google Street View: Go on virtual field trips through Google's 360 degree photo technology
  12. Human 3.0: Online study of human anatomy
  13. Kiosko: Displays the front pages of newspapers from around the world
  14. Motivational Poster: Create motivational-style posters on iPads with images, headlines, and sentence summaries
  15. Newsela: News site where reading levels can be differentiated. Online or printable activities/quizzes available
  16. Nearpod: Create/upload slideshow and add interactive slides to engage students on their own devices
  17. Padlet: Online discussion board for comments/note taking/KWLs and more
  18. Pixabay: Free photos that are both Creative Commons and safe to use without asking permission
  19. Plickers: Makes classes interactive with quizzing/surveys with a smart device and printable cards
  20. Popplet (lite): Concept mapping
  21. PowToon: Online presentation maker with animations
  22. QR Code Generator: Creates QR codes easily, download to jpg to print
  23. Quizlet: Create flashcards for review and study
  24. Safeshare TV: Past the url of any YouTube video in to watch with no adds or pop ups to avoid the distraction
  25. Screencast-o-matic: Easy screencasting 
  26. Scrible: Annotate and save webpages
  27. Seesaw: Digital Portfolio platform that is easy to use, for ages PK and up
  28. Socrative: Create real time surveys, quizzes, and more. Online or on app (teacher app separate from student  app)
  29. Soundcloud: Allows users to create, share, store audio files. Others can listen and comment on them as an audio social media
  30. Sutori: Create online timelines (not printable)
  31. Symbaloo: Create (or search for) "webmixes" filled with tiles for easy access to a variety of websites you program in
  32. Tagul: Word cloud creator
  33. TeacherTube: "Safe" version of YouTube, created specifically for teachers
  34. Thinglink: Add  hotspots to images with videos, texts, ect
  35. Timeline from Read Write Think: Create simple timelines on app or on their site. Site has lesson plans and a variety of other online interactive graphic organizers.
  36. Wordflex Dictionary: Online (or app) visual interactive dictionary

PowToons from; Image from

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Empathy Makes the World Go Round

In the last few weeks before school started, I was reading the book UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World by Michele Borba, Ed.D. It certainly is an eye-opening book: as a parent, a teacher, and as a citizen in 2017. Especially when it seems a lot of the news these days politically seems to scream of a lack of empathy on one side or the other.

As I was reading this book (which I finished in approximately two days given how engaging and readable it was), I thought often of my own two, personal driving forces, the foundation of Green Team Gazette: environmentalism and technology.

I also thought a lot about my own children... as well as my own parenting style.

In multiple places in the book, the "selfie" side brought about by social media (and the narcissistic tendencies that have been on the rise over the past several decades), the solution points to unplugging. Getting outside. Getting dirty. Building emotional intelligence through actual interaction with others (not texting). Connecting.

My daughter showed me a spoofy YouTube not long ago comparing life in 2017 versus either 1997 or 1987. It really doesn't matter much for the parts that stuck in my head: the cell phones, the texting versus the hours I spent talking on the phone as a kid, the time running around outdoors not tied to a computer, meeting people in the world versus online dating. Yes, as they say: the times, they have changed.

Building our empathy skills--that is the key. The secret to flipping our selfie society.

The 9 factors that help build empathy are here:

Between our "plugged in" culture (kids spend approximately 7 hours and 38 minutes plugged in these days!?! Yikes!) and the "hurry, scurry, aren't we over-busy" mentality--not to mention the social media selfies, we are indeed in need of un-selfie-ing! The opposite: building empathy. Borba's UnSelfie does a great job of giving you both a lot of strategies both for yourself and your kids. It also gives you a lot of food for thought. It's leaving me pondering all of the above for days...thinking of the ways I can unplug myself, my kids, and help build all of our empathy skills!

"The Thoughts in My Head: Empathy" picture was created by me at;; "7 Ways to Cultivate Children's Empathy" poster created by me at; "UnSelfie" book image from; Brene Brown quote photo from

Saturday, August 26, 2017

An Inconvenient Sequel, Revisited

Ever since seeing "An Inconvenient Sequel," I keep revisiting movie points in my mind. (It helps that I have about 3 pages of written notes, front and back, that I took in the dark theater, trying to capture all the #eco information. I can indeed go back and physically revisit those movie points!)

Perhaps it is that the daily news (and noise) doesn't help.

After seeing the movie, I keep pondering where we are.
It's almost like I'm walking on an icy pond: are we at the "tipping point" or the "turning point?" (Two phrases used in the movie.) Or, are we still carefully stepping somewhere in the middle, hoping for the best? It's sort of like that "hope & despair" struggle, which climate change often has us precariously teetering on as well.

After watching the movie...

After seeing the data of "hottest year on record" for several years in a row now...

After seeing images of super storms, hurricanes (especially the damaging effect of Hurricane Harvey this weekend in Texas), "rain bombs," floods, and drought-induced wildfires...

After seeing images of climate refugees who are left with only destruction from these above-mention natural disasters...

After seeing the statistics, facts, and the science reports by experts in the field...

How. Are. We. Still. Here?

Burying your head in the sand like an ostrich doesn't change what's around you. Yet there are so many around us that are doing just that. As if the science is debatable or negotiable.

Insert *sigh* here.

Rather than debating that point though, it comes to the point that we all, as citizens, need to do our part. Al Gore ended "The Inconvenient Sequel" with the following quote, typeset and screen-filling at the end of the movie:
Fight like your world depends on it....Because your world depends on it.
Given that, here's an infographic I created to share a few places to start!

It is through taking action, in both little and big ways, that we can instill change. Cheers to those of you out there who are fighting along side me. May we all have the same resurgence of power that DSCOVR did.

Images from Buncee Windpower/Solutions poster from;"Inconvenient Sequel" Movie Poster from; ice pond image from; Climate graph from; top 10 hottest years graph from

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Al Gore's At It Again: The Inconvenient Sequel

On July 28th in selected theaters and August 4th for a wider selection of theaters, amidst a tumultuous and political 2017, the sequel to Al Gore's 2007 movie "An Inconvenient Truth" came out in movie theaters. It's been 10 years since the first movie came out, and we're still here, in need of this movie.

Here's the trailer for "An Inconvenient Sequel:"

I saw this movie last week. My first thought on the subject was that it was actually exciting to see an environmental movie out at the big, "real" theaters (not just a Netflix near you). Additionally, I was very happy to see that it was out for longer than a one-week release. I will say, there weren't many in my theater (as its been out a few weeks and it probably speaks to a very specific crowd), but the theater wasn't empty. It made me smile to sit there solo, but amidst a tribe of like-minded individuals.

Of course, it left behind a myriad of other thoughts:
  • I felt like this movie came at the right time. All Americans--all global citizens--should see this movie. It will say, it is striking given that some of the environmental policies are changing under the current administration and their admonishment of science and climate facts... especially striking after seeing the movie and the extent of which everyone should listening!
  • A poignant point: "To fix the environmental crisis, we need to fix the democratic crisis." I think we've seen a number of times in the last 4+ decades that the political stance of the presidential administration is what drives the money, the connections, the decision making. We saw it when President Reagan took off the White House Solar panels that President Carter put on. We saw it when President Bush canceled the DSCOVR (see below). We see it on our nightly news now, with Donald Trump & Scott Pruitt attacking the EPA.
  • I will admit: I  felt a mix of  both being down, yet also hopeful. I was saddened by the numerous roadblocks along the way (in both the Bush and now Trump administrations). I was struck by the story of NASA's DSCOVR [which stands for "Deep Space Climate Observatory"]. It was ready to get off the ground in 2000, around the Bush-Gore election. Due to dangling chads and a Supreme Court decision, George W. Bush took office, and DSCOVR was dismantled of all climate instruments--renamed, reprogrammed, and left only equipped with solar storm equipment to send into space. Watching the details and history on that was disheartening. But in the category of time, persistence, and "all good things come to those who wait," DSCOVR, under President Obama's administration, was finally fully equipped and successfully launched on February 11, 2015.
  • Once again... The people of the world who always have the biggest negative effects (given any issue) are the poorest. Climate change related issues are no different. From that stand point, climate change then becomes a social justice issue. Case and point: Syria had faced a huge drought from 2006--2009, right before their political issues. The drought, no doubt, did not help anyone's demeanor prior to the civil unrest! Just one example (of many out there) that there is a link between peace and climate change.
  • Solar, wind, and other renewable energies are doable, profitable, and bottom-line far more healthy than the fossil fuels we are using now.100% renewable energy cities are cropping up: Even Georgetown, Texas, a highly conservative community, was featured in the movie for their near 100% renewable energy goal. As Republican Mayor Dale Ross (who was proud to be the first in Texas to achieve this goal) said: "It's just common sense that cleaner air is healthier, and we're leaving the planet better." For a list of other cities striving for (& achieving)100%, go to Go 100% Renewable Energy's website.

I could go on and on.

I do think my biggest "ah ha" moment was the fact that I saw this film just days after the controversial racial rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which led to the unnecessary death Heather Heyer. Near the end of the movie, Al Gore spoke of his concern (and sometimes dismay) over his mult-decade quest, and how it was disheartening at times. That was exactly how I had been feeling after Charlottesville. It broke my heart that there was still so much racism in our country, and it was so blatant. Yet, I also saw hope in the way people on both sides of the political spectrum were standing up against white supremacy. 

This especially hit me at the end of the movie as Al Gore went on to compare the climate fight to that of the Civil Rights movement and every other major moral movement to keep progressing human rights forward. All movements at times feel that heavy resistance and push back, battling the moral difference between right and wrong. Change and progress are not easy. Yet, it's also not dependent on a president. If ours refuses to lead environmentally, the it is up to the American people to lead. So whether it's in the form of a movie like this, or marches like the Climate or Earth Day or other marches we've seen in 2017 (or even a little blog like mine), we will lead.

And hopefully we will keep making breakthroughs which lead to greater and more sustainable change!

For more information about "The Inconvenient Sequel," check out the links below:

Links from the movie website to encourage you to "Use Your Choice; Use Your Voice; and Use Your Vote:"

Links from the Climate Reality Project related to the movie:
To look into getting training and work with Al Gore, to become a Climate Reality Leader, click here. Application deadline is September 12, 2017 for the October 17-19, 2017 training in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The image below shows how many climate leaders have been trained in the Climate Reality Leadership Corp since 2006.

Video from; Video Image created at
"Inconvenient Sequel" Movie Poster from; Climate Reality Leadership Corp pic from; movie image from and; Gandhi quote from

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Monday's The Day: The American Eclipse August 21, 2017

So... Monday's the day you've been hearing about for months on social media: The Great American Eclipse.
In case you missed it and need more information, you can check out my earlier post on "all things eclipse." Then you'll be ready for when the sky gets dark on Monday (as most of America will have get to witness at least a partial eclipse). Plus, you can rest assured it's not a dystopian version of Chicken Little & "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

I covered a lot of information last week about the eclipse, but I feel like I needed to do one last PSA on making sure you address the safety issues. An eclipse is a rare natural event, but truly it comes with its own dangers if not handled properly. That's what I get for being a teacher--I've got to dive into and go all "Safety Patrol" on you.
(There, I said it, loudly, yes, I'm screaming. Now go watch this movie.)

There are parameters when it is safer, as the movie showed, and for those I'm going to defer to NASA. The partial eclipse is said to have more intensity, which can lead to more damage. Eclipse glasses have been all the rage in the eclipse hype we've been hearing about all summer. Again, I defer to NASA. I know there's been comments to "make sure your eclipse glasses are safe and NASA approved or certified." I've also heard horror stories online about knock offs out there for the unsuspecting and trusting eclipse watcher.
I feel I can't say that loud enough.

And don't even think that your regular sunglasses offer any sort of protection. THEY DON'T! If you are wearing your regular sunglasses during the eclipse, behave as if you aren't. Because basically, you aren't in those circumstances. DON'T LOOK AT THE SUN! Sunglasses aren't anywhere the same as NASA approved solar glasses!!

I've also got to say this... I am paranoid. Fully. Totally. 100%. I don't trust them (and I don't typically have trust issues to this extreme). Even if they are 100% safe, glasses slip. Kids are careless. The timing might be off. Your eyes are too important. Yes, in this case I'm a complete worrywart to the "Nth" degree! And here's the reason why: I distinctly remember being in elementary school, ready to head out to see my very first eclipse. I also totally remember being warned within an inch of our lives by our teachers to NOT LOOK UP, as we stood outside, waiting our turn to view the partial eclipse through the pinhole box projector. Yes, it was the 1970s. Yes, it's archaic. Yes, technology has changed just a tad since then. But I don't care, I'm still paranoid and enmeshed in my safety zone.

Given all of that... I recommend going old school and making that pinhole projector (sometimes called an eclipse viewer).  Use the video below as your guide or make your own NASA-approved 2D or 3D printable one. Plus then it becomes an at home project to share with your family, not to mention it might even make you nostalgic.

OK... Now that I've gotten that all off my chest... here's a couple last minute "nuts and bolts:"
  • Timing: To find out when you can see it in your area, go to this Vox article, scroll down, and enter your zip code. It will give you the time of start, the peak & percentage of sun blockage to expect, and how it will scroll out via a time lapse animation. It can also tell you where the nearest place is from you to see the total eclipse. There's also other good info over there too. Cool stuff. 
  • Live feed: NASA is streaming live video online on Monday, August 21st. Coverage will be 12 noon to 4 pm Eastern Standard Time and will include live coverage at 12 locations via airplanes, 57 high altitude balloons, and ground telescopes. Bookmark this link ahead of time so you'll be on the ready watch, regardless of your device. For those of you in the bunch as paranoid as I am, this might be the perfect way to get an up close and personal view of the magic while it happens.
  • Final Thoughts:  Don't miss it. Take time out of your regular routine and check it out. These things don't come around every day. But whatever you do, remember to be a part of the Safety Patrol with me. Don't make any "blinding" mistakes... pun intended! Go out there and be safe Monday!

Images from; 2017 eclipse track pic from; eclipse timeline from; eclipse viewer video from; eclipse safety 101 video from

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Innovation, Visionaries, & The Henry Ford Museum.

After visiting the Winter Estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford in Fort Myers this June, I'm finding that I just can't get enough of them. Of course, upon doing doing some digging on their individual websites, I'm finding it's a little bit like like getting lost down the rabbit hole…there’s so much there, educationally speaking.

Especially when it comes to the concept of Innovation. 

The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan is now officially on my bucket list of places I want to go dive in! 

In the meantime, I'm just going to have to spend hours pouring over their online resources!

If you too are in search of resources innovation, visionaries, and more, look no further!

Where to start--
Your "Must See TV" Innovation Video
from the Henry Ford Museum
A perfect introductory is the curriculum video on the Henry Ford Museum "Teaching Innovation" page. There you will learn some of the traits of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Buckminster Fuller, Rosa Park, and all innovators:

Revolutionary * driven * undaunted *
a dreamer * fierce * brave * & more

You see that they "questioned. Searched. Were unsuccessful. Succeeded magnificently."

You hear modern day visionaries speaking on the underlying traits of innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and change makers.  This video falls in the category (in my mind) of "Must See TV," and I'm thinking along the way as to how I can incorporate it at school!

Where to go next, getting lost along the way in the sea of excellent information--
  • The Curriculum Video above naturally leads you to the "Innovation 101" curriculum. Five 45-minute lessons plans are designed to introduce students to innovation principles. The following modules highlight the topics:
                    1. What is Innovation?
                    2. Traits of an Innovator
                    3. Process of Innovation
                    4. Keys to Innovation
                    5. Innovation, Intellectual Property Rights, & More
                    > Field Trips & Programs for the locals (man, to be local!)
                    > Educational Resources (searchable by topic)
                    > Education at the Henry Ford (including professional develop-
                             ment for educators, The Henry Ford Academy, &
                             Henry Ford Learning Institute 
                    > Competitions & Events
                    1.  What If?  
                            Investigate some of the questions inventors had
                               along the way.
                    2.  Choose 3
                            Find the connection between different combinations of 3
                              artifacts at the museum.
                    3. Visionaries on Innovation
                            Discover the "Personal Perspectives from Leading Innovators"
                              through videos, insights, and articles.
                            You can view by:
                                    > Trait: collaborate, break rules, learn from failure,
                                                  remix, be curious
                                    > Innovator: 25 modern visionaries
                                    > Topic:   agriculture, design & making, energy & power,
                                                 information & communication, social
                                                 transformation, transportation
  • The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation –a weekly Saturday morning CBS show hosted by CBS Sunday Morning Show's own Mo Rocca. The show, now with archives of 3 seasons, showcases present day change makers, solving the problems of today. This video shows a sneak of what's inside the series.

May these resources help you navigate those traits of innovation and inspire you to investigate the wealth of resources that are out there!

pics from and; video image from; video from; final quote from

Saturday, August 12, 2017

August 21, 2017: Total Eclipse of the Heart... Um, I Mean, Sun!

It's not on the line of "The British are coming, the British are coming..."
but it's close:

A solar eclipse is coming!
A solar eclipse is coming!
August 21st, 2017, 
to be exact!

Unless you have been living under a rock, this should not be new news. It's been all over social media and news networks for a good month!

Given the trajectory and the tilt of the Earth's axis, all of North America is in prime position to see the sights of this total solar eclipse. (For a bigger map, go here.)  Given that fact, it's come to be known as "The Great American Eclipse. The last time an eclipse trekked across the contiguous United States was June 8, 1918--just over 99 years ago!

Of course, you can't go "just watch" an eclipse. There are certain things you need to do to make sure you have created a safe situation for your eyes due to the intensity of the sun's rays during an eclipse. Here's a great infographic from Crofton Family Eye Center helping you know how to best approach this rare event.

The posters, created by artist, educator, & Astronomer Tyler Nordgren, follow the style of the Works Progress Administration of the mid-1900s. What striking advertisements for a great once-in-a-lifetime event! Visual reminders to help us all remember to mark our calendar for next week!!

Tyler Nordgren

Tyler Nordgren

Tyler Nordgren
Tyler Nordgren 
To do some more digging on the details of this total eclipse, check out, Vox & The Great American Eclipse (both of which they have detailed maps of the track). ISTE also has a list of 7 resources to teach about the solar eclipse. You can also be a citizen scientist through Eclipse MegaMovie 2017.

And then there's NASA:

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Winter Estate of the Dynamic Duo: Thomas Edison & Henry Ford

Vacation is such a great time to explore and discover new places. Our June Trip to Ft. Myers, Cape Coral, Sanibel, & Captiva allowed for just that. We got the visit several beautiful beaches & also got the chance to check out The  J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, as well as the Thomas Edison & Henry Ford’s Winter Estate.

Although there were lots of highlights, one that really got my mental gears spinning was the Edison-Ford Winter Estate (with 250,000 visitors annually). It was here that I saw (again!) the marriage between technology and the environment (not to mention, a lot of amazing exhibits):

Innovation & Inspiration 

The friendship of these two men led them to wintering together as next door neighbors in Fort Myers. The turn-of-the-century was a time of technology and inventions. Being at the Edison-Ford estates transported me back those 100 years to that dynamic time of innovation. 

In addition to the genius that Thomas Edison and Henry Ford brought with them when they came to Florida, the grounds of the estates themselves became living laboratories. The 20 acres of botanical gardens became outdoor research--a place to investigate edible crops, and investigate chemistry and industry. Edison experimented with bamboo filament for his initial light bulb.

Now, of course, the estate and museum leave you awe-inspired by both the history and magnitude of both men's inventions that completely transformed the life and times of their era. It certainly serves as inspiration to the Maker Movement & STEAM/STEM education today!

It also spoke to me that 100 years ago, these visionaries saw signs of future promise that our leaders today are still challenged with when it comes to alternative energy!

The Environmental Escapades of "The Vagabonds" 

Being outdoors becomes a break from your current reality. That doesn't matter if it's in today's time, or 100 years ago.
During the decade of 1914--1924, Edison and Ford were joined by Harvey Firestone (creator of Henry Ford's tires) and best selling nature author John Burroughs annual expeditions "Into the Wild." Henry Ford saw his Model T as a way to transport not only this quartet to the wilderness, but as a way of bringing a love (and escape) to nature to the everyday man. The "Tin Can Tourist" was invented!

This video, by the same name (published by PBS in April 2011), highlights the time, the friendship of this foursome (who became known as "The Vagabonds," and how nature inspired and revived them. They were the celebrities of the time!

Educational Resources from the Winter Estates

One of my favorites is a book I got there: "The Inventor's Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford" by Suzanne Slade. (Spoiler alert: The secret? Grit, perseverance, stick-to-it-ive-ness!)

The Winter Estates website takes you to some other great resources:

Within their “Our Collections” tab, you can request information, request a photo, find links for other Edison and Ford websites, books and DVD's. I was particularly interested in the link to the STEM Resources for Students & Teachers at website!

They also have an extensive Education Tab on the website with the following categories--many for locals: Edison Ford Home School programs, Emerging Inventors Early Learning Classes; Inventors Summer Camp; School Break Camps, and monthly Garden Tours.

Final Thoughts

Thomas Edison was not a stellar student when young. He did not function well in the regular classroom (possibly an attention deficit kid, prior to that being a diagnosis), only truly thriving when his mother took him out for homeschooling. Henry Ford was a teenage tinkerer who mastered the art of watch repair through his own exploration and investigation. For both, it was through perseverance and failing forward that they ultimately made their mark on history. And it makes perfect sense that these two geniuses of their time would gravitate toward each other.

For a great overview video of the Winter Estates, check out the video on their home page. It might just inspire a visit the next time you are down in the neighborhood of Ft. Myers! You might find yourself channeling these two great inventors, seeing your own mental gears start spinning around your own innovations!
Screenshot from
place to view a super & informative video!

Edison-Ford Winter Estate placard photo from from; book image from;  pictures compiled in the Li-Pix app from my camera while at the Edison-Ford Winter Estates; final photo of Edison Ford Winter Estates video from