Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The World is Our Oyster Part Deux

As with anything...timing is everything.  

2 days ago, my "guest blog" article "The World is Our Oyster" ran in  That day too at school, our science teacher Tim Decker gave my class a grand announcement:  Chesapeake Bay Foundation had an open-spot for today for us to release our oyster spat we'd been raising this year.  With a forecast for near 70 degrees, who could argue with that plan, even if it was only 2 days notice??  So dressed in our layers and life jackets, we met the boat at our dock for a day on the Magothy River.  

Oyster Graduation Day was here!
It was a full day!  With Captain Dave & Tiffany we talked phytoplankton & zooplankton, even "catching" some of the latter and taking a close-up look in some viewing scopes.  We trawled for fish, catching 7 perch (and returning them to sea, of course, but not until after we sketched their fins to learn more about what that tells us). During our ship-board picnic, we talked about the Plastiki & the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch, and all we had to do was look around at the wealth that surrounded us to know why we needed to have a firm grasp on our chip bags, granola wraps & reusable containers!)
We listed all the critters we encountered along the way.  We donned binoculars to spy osprey & the bald eagle nest on Gibson Island...complete with a bald eagle perched nearby!  Some of my boys were remarking how they'd never ever seen one "live and in person."  This of course was a double treat as our students were still getting used to our 2-month old new name:  Eagle Cove School.
Then there were the oysters.  We measured the salinity, the dissolved oxygen, and found the right depth and the right hard shelled sea bottom of the river.  Then we said our goodbyes and sent the oysters overboard to join many others in the protected oyster sanctuary.  All the while, math skills were at play, as were our spelling, map reading, critical thinking, and teamwork skills.
Did you know that one adult oyster can filter about 50 gallons of water in one day?  To learn even more about oysters, click on the title above to visit Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Oyster Fact Sheet (or go to  

Yep, the world was our oyster once again today! 

Monday, March 29, 2010

From Light To Dark

Great Earth Hour Pics!  Click the pics at the title link or at and watch the lights fade!

Pictues from

The World is Our Oyster

I was asked to be a guest blogger by (which is an excellent resource for teachers for learning resources about the Chesapeake Bay area).  The article below is what you will find at

The World is Our Oyster

March 29th, 2010 by Vicki
Fourth and fifth graders wade into the river to get ready for 
their oyster cage delivery.
Fourth and fifth graders wade into the river to get ready for their oyster cage delivery.

There’s no where I’d rather be than where I am—teaching third grade at Eagle Cove School (formerly Gibson Island Country School) in Pasadena, Maryland. Not only do I have an fabulous view of the Magothy River out of my classroom window (where on clear days I can even see the Chesapeake Bay Bridge), but I know that I’m in an amazing school dedicated to the environment. As a Maryland Green School since 2006, Eagle Cove School provides so many opportunities to our preK to 5th grade students.
Pre-K students unload their oyster cages from Magothy River 
Association's boat.
Pre-K students unload their oyster cages from Magothy River Association's boat.

At Eagle Cove School, we recycle everything Anne Arundel County does, with bins in every class room right next to near-empty waste baskets. As a school community we also recycle batteries, cell phones, printer cartridges, and burnt-out compact-fluorescent light bulbs for our parent body.  On campus have rain barrels painted in art class as well as bird houses and fish observation tanks built in science class.  Students have hiked our nature trail, seined the river, and built rain gardens and a geodesic dome greenhouse.  We raise oysters, eels, terrapins, and bay grasses to be returned to the Chesapeake Bay.  We watch butterfly eggs turn to caterpillars, then chrysalises, then to monarchs in our butterfly garden.  It is hard to be in this setting, building these habits and having these experiences, and not be active toward our environment.
During Eagle Cove's Third Grade field trip students released their
 oysters back into the river.
During Eagle Cove's Third Grade field trip students released their oysters back into the river.

The world truly is our oyster in 3rd grade. After a-half-dozen years of being affiliated with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Oyster Gardening Program, it has been our third grade tradition to help raise oysters and return these natural filters to the Bay. All year long, students raise oyster spat, weekly checking the water’s temperature, salinity, and clarity while also measuring, monitoring, and charting the spat’s growth. Donning life jackets, students trek down to the dock each week to tend to this routine chore—but hardly a chore it is seen to be!
The third graders return from a hard day's work cleaning up the 
bay one little oyster at a time.
The third graders return from a hard day's work cleaning up the bay one little oyster at a time.

To culminate this year long activity of nurturing our oyster babies, we go on a full-day field trip in the spring which begins at our school dock. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s captain and first mate onboard-educators pick us up by boat and take us out on the Magothy River. Once on the water, our guides have us navigating maps, searching for signs of diversified wildlife, and finding all the right oyster-loving conditions—all the while sea spray hits us as we go.
The pinnacle of the trip is using our water condition data that we collect as we go to drop anchor and release our ready oysters out to sea. It’s an exuberant “oysters be free” moment of thrusting the oysters overboard by the handful. In my 18 years of teaching, it is by far the best, most exhilarating field trip I have ever attended!
For this year’s third graders it will be especially meaningful in that the first Friday of our school year, the entire school body united with the Magothy River Association to take part in the “Marylanders Grow Oysters” Program through the Department of Natural Resources and the Oyster Recovery Partnership. Our school was one of the pickup points for Marylanders to get their own oyster spat. Of course, to be a pick up point, we had to first get the 320 cages off trucks, down to the dock, and placed on pallets in the river for 2 weeks until the pickup date. Amazing how quickly that can take place when you have a whole community of school children (even the youngest 3 and 4 year olds) ready to step right up and do their part!
As we soak up nature from the campus that surrounds us at Eagle Cove, we learn both as students and as teachers. The world is our oyster, and we take advantage of it every day! No doubt, the planet will benefit from the budding citizens that make up our Eagle Cove’s student body.
Additional Resources:
Vicki Dabrowka is a Third Grade Teacher and Co-“Green Team” Leader at Eagle Cove School in Pasadena, Maryland. She is also the author of “The Green Team Gazette,” a blog on green living & green educating.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Daylight Peeks Back at Last Night's Earth Hour

 A day later, in the light of day, the Earth Hour numbers start coming in.
  • On the Supporter map on Earth Hour's website, 5,665,278 supporters signed up world-wide. (  
  •  Earth Hour's Facebook fans numbered 338,816 followers
  • 126 countries/regions including over 4,000 cities/towns/municipalities on all 7 of the continents took part in the hour of darkness to support climate change.
  • 1,387 iconic landmarks diminished their lights (like the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids at Gaza, and The Sydney Opera House)
And from, here are just a smattering of the countries/cities connected based solely on the photos that were uploaded. What a global smorgasbord! Click on any of the names below to go to those pics!

Abu Dhabi * ALBANIA * Albany * Amman * Amsterdam * Antananarivo * ARGENTINA * ARMENIA * ATHENS * Atlanta * Auckland * Australia * B.C.S. * Baja California Sur * Bandar Seri Begawan * Beijing * Belfast * BOLIVIA *Brasília * BRAZIL * brighton * Brisbane * BRUNEI DARUSSALAM * Bucharest *Buenos Aires * BULGARIA * Busan * Cairo * Campo Grande * Canada * CANCUN * Cape Town * Capetown * cardiff * Casablanca * Celje * Central * Chatham Islands * Chengdu *Chiang Mai * Chicago * China * Colombo * Curitiba * CYPRUS * Druskininkai * Dubai * Dunedin * ECUADOR * Edinburgh * EGYPT * EL SALVADOR * ESTONIA * Falkirk * Fiji * Forbidden City * France * Fujairah * Garapan * Glasgow * GREECE * GUATEMALA * Guatemala City * Guayaquil * Halifax * Hamilton * Hiroshima * Hong Kong * INDIA * INDONESIA * INVERNESS * İstanbul * ITALY * Jakarta * JAPAN *JORDAN * Khon Khen * KhonKhen * Kiev * KOREA * KOSOVO * La Antigua Guatemala * La Paz * LAO PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC * Las Vegas * LATVIA * Lima * Lithuania * London * Los Angeles * MADAGASCAR * Madrid * Melbourne * Mexico * Mexico City * MOROCCO * Moscow * NETHERLANDS * new delhi * New York City * New Zealand * Niagara Falls * Nicosia * NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS * NORWAY * Oslo * Ottawa * Paris * Patras * Perth * PERU * PLURINATIONAL STATE OF * Pristina * Puerto Ayora Santa Cruz Galapagos * PUERTO RICO * Quito * Riga * Rincon * ROMANIA * Rome * RUSSIAN FEDERATION * SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS * san salvador * Santa Cruz * Santa Cruz Galapagos * Scotland * Seattle * Sheffield * Singapore * SLOVENIA * Sofia * South Africa * Spain * SRI LANKA * St Andrews * St. Louis * Stockholm * Suva * SWEDEN *SWITZERLAND * Sydney * Tartu * THAILAND * Thessaloniki * Tokyo * Toronto * Tsim Sha Tsui * TURKEY * UKRAINE * UNITED ARAB EMIRATES * United Kingdom * United States * Vancouver * Velenje * Vientiane * Washington DC * Wellington * Yerevan * Zuerich * Zurich
(The view from our house, Earth Hour 2010.)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Joining the Facebook Nation

Become a fan of Green Team Gazette on Facebook: 

Earth Hour Day...There's no better day to do it!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Earth Hour ~ Be There or Be Square

Click the title "Earth Hour ~ Be there or Be Square" above  (or go to to catch the Earth Hour video to remind you why you need to be a part of this global event! 

In less than 24 hours the "wave" starts...lights start going off world wide in 1 hour increments.  In your time zone, "Vote Earth" by flicking that light switch OFF from 8:30 to 9:30 pm to take a stand against Climate Change.  With everyone doing that, we'll have that "wave" going in no time...a fluid way to be a part of a movement!

At current count according to, 126 countries have registered to take part.  That beats last year's count by 38 countries!  That's a lot of people sharing in their support and concern for our 1 planet!

In my classroom this week, my 3rd graders wrote pretty dynamic, persuasive paragraphs about getting involved in Earth Houe after viewing some of the Earth Hour Videos.  If 9 year olds can get revved up about it, so can you!

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 around to your family & friends and pass the words
  • Stock up on candles and light them up as you knock out all your other lights at 8:30 pm
  • 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 boardgames 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!
Would love to hear what it is you did!  How did you spend your lights out, Earth Hour night out!?

Picture from

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Sound & Song of Earth Hour

A music video speaks 1000 words. Earthman Lanny Smith has a great way of spreading his message too!  This song was used as World Wildlife Fund"s Earth Hour 2009 theme song.  To hear his kid-friendly, catchy tune and see some great visuals detailing the importance of taking a stand during Earth Hour & clicking lights off this Saturday from 8:30--9:30 pm in your times the video here by clicking the title above or go to

To check out some more Earthman and his environmental songs, go to or

Picture from

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Water Stats to Ponder

A day after World Water Day, here's some pretty amazing water stats, and a great graphic illustrating them.  Click the title above, or the link below to catch's whole article detailing the numbers!

Monday, March 22, 2010

When David de Rothschild meets Annie Leonard...

Photo Courtesy of Luca Babini
When David de Rothschild meets Annie Leonard...while the Plastiki sails on World Water Day....It's all interrelated!

A Story Just Perfect for World Water Day

I personally don't need to write today, for Annie Leonard did it far better and clearer than I ever could in her email newsletter that came in my email box!  Below you will find the text of that email copy and pasted here!  

Next stop:  Watch The Story of Bottled Water to pay tribute to "World Water Day" today at or .  (They have had so many hits today that their server is going bonkers!  You may need to try

Dear Vicki,

Today is World Water Day, and to mark the occasion I'm joining with some of North America's leading environmental groups to release the latest Story of Stuff Project short film:  The Story of Bottled Water.
Like The Story of Stuff, this new film uses simple words and images to explain a complex problem, in this case manufactured demand:  how you get people to think they need to spend money on something they don't actually need or already have.

Over the last two decades, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle and other big beverage companies have spent untold millions of dollars making us afraid of tap water. They've told us that if we want to be sure what we drink is pure and clean-not to mention hip and fashionable-we should buy bottled water.

, it worked.

InDrinkingWater the United States alone, we consume approximately 500,000,000 bottles of water each week. Imagine that: while 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water worldwide, other people spend billions of dollars on a bottled product that's no cleaner, harms people and the environment and costs up to 2,000 times the price of tap water.

But there's good news: Last year, for the first time in a long time, bottled water sales fell-not that much, but they went down. Consumers who want economy, portability and convenience are switching to refillable metal bottles. Restaurants are proudly serving tap water. And cities, states, companies and schools around the world are ditching the bottle to save money and do their part for the environment.

Still, we've got a ways to go.

So please, take a minute today to watch The Story of Bottled Water. Then pass it along to your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers-anyone you think might be interested.

You are The Story of Stuff Project's strongest allies:  You made the original Story of Stuff an Internet phenomenon, with nearly 9 million views total. Last December, you pushed The Story of Cap & Trade past half a million views in just under six weeks. And in the last ten days, you've helped our new book, The Story of Stuff, enter the New York Times extended bestseller list at #35. Thank you a million times over.

After you've forwarded The Story of Bottled Water to your networks, I encourage you to 
join a campaign for investment in clean tap water for everyone, like those sponsored by our partners at Corporate Accountability International, Food & Water Watch, Polaris Institute, Environmental Working Group, and Pacific Institute. Visit these fantastic groups' websites to learn more, sign-up and get involved.

Together, we can send Coke, Pepsi, Nestle and the rest of the industry a message as clear as a glass of tap water: We're not buying into your manufactured demand anymore. We'll choose our own demands, thank you very much, and we're demanding clean safe water for all!

Annie Leonard

P.S. It takes a pretty penny to make and distribute these short films. After The Story of Bottled Water we have films coming on electronics (planned obsolescence anyone?), personal care products and more. Please consider a tax-deductible gift to The Story of Stuff Project today to help us keep these films coming and on-line for free.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's a Plastiki-World Water-Bottled Water-Earth Hour Kind of Week

It's a pretty cool week this week, environmentally speaking.  A lot going on:

1.  The Plastiki set sail yesterday, on it's 100 day journey from San Fran to Sydney via the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  Both the Plastiki website's blog ( and David de Rothschild's twitter tweets (which are here & on Plastiki's home page) are great places to follow their adventure a la plastic bottle boat to the watery sea swirl o'plastic.  Love this picture of them from their site:
From with the caption:  "The Plastiki crew - David de Rothschild, Jo Royle, David Thomson, Olav Heyerdahl, Vern Moen and Max Jourdan - waving farewell to San Francisco as they leave for their 100 day trip to Sydney.  ~Courtesy of Luca Babini" 

2.  Tomorrow  (March 22nd) is World Water Day.  This United Nations globally-celebrated day sprouted out of the 1992 Rio de Janeiro's United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. is a fabulous place to go to learn more about this "enviro-holiday."  Here are some pretty startling water facts from "The Everything Green Classroom Book" by Tessa Hill, president of Kids for Saving Earth (  which is an equally great place to go for teaching/informational resources!):
  • Although 70% of the Earth is water, only 3% of that water is fresh.  Take away that which is frozen at both poles, that leaves less than 1% of our planetary water supply fresh and available.  
  • Given nearly 7 billion people are living on this sphere of ours, that's a lot of water to share.  In fact, approx1.1 billion people in the world don't have the ability to get safe, clean drinking water.  In eye-opening real numbers, that's 1 in 6 people, folks. 
Clearly, water is a precious commodity.  Now insert in that picture bottled water.  More numbers to make your head spin from "The Everything Green Classroom Book:"
  • 29,000,000,000 (that's billion with a "B") plastic water bottles are made in the US per year.  That's our global population x 4.5.     
  • What are those bottles made from?  Petroleum.  Crude Oil.  A non-renewable resources that could be going other, more necessary places.  17 million barrels of it in fact.
  • Over 85% of those water bottles aren't recycled.  Gee, where do they wind up?  Yep, the landfill or, according to, about 50% of those plastics out there find their way to the ocean.  Given that plastic takes over 1000 years to decompose, and even then not 100% (leaving little plastic bits called "nurdles" which sea life eats), we've got problems left and right with this system.
So...enter our return friend, Annie LeonardDebuting on World Water Day ~ tomorrow! ~ is her latest creation in the Story of Stuff movie format:  The Story of Bottled Water.    Here's the trailer:   Pretty good day to "make a splash!"
3).  Okay, so if the Plastiki embarking AND World Water Day AND a New Story of Stuff movie coming out aren't enough, rounding out the week on Saturday night (March 27th) is Earth Hour (  Another global event to make another move toward global awareness.  Last year, one of their themes was to "Vote Earth" by using your light switch as your ballot box.  By turning off your lights from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm during the Earth Hour eve, you show your support in favor of a more conscious, green way of living.  It's another way one individual's actions can make a difference to support the sustainability of our home planet...especially since it's the only one we have. 
So here's what your "To Do List" should look like:
  • Keep track of Plastiki.
  • Pay attention to your water usage.
  • Watch "The Story of Bottled Water" and share it all around.
  • Flick off your lights Saturday night from 8:30 to 9:30 pm to let your vote be heard. 

"Water for All" picture from: 
"Light switch" photo from:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Red-Letter Plastiki Day: Saturday, March 20th!

The pressure cooker, the rotating cylinder garden, the pillows, suitcases and travel music are all packed!  After almost 4 years in the making, the time has come ~ Plastiki, our favorite plastic bottle boat, is getting set to set sail!  "Kick off" is at 9:30 am PST tomorrow:  Saturday, March 20th from Sausalito, CA to Sydney, Australia.  For those of us on the east coast, that's 12:30 p.m. EST!  This 100-day adventure will take to the seas "under San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge...on a mission to deliver a global message to beat waste."  [Quoted from the Plastiki link mentioned below]. 

Cheers, kudos, and safe voyage to the crew!  Hats off to expedition leader David de Rothschild, skipper Ms. Jo Royle, co-skipper David Thomson, diver Olav Heyerdahl, film maker Vern Moen, & documentary director Max Jourdan.  We'll be a-watchin' and sending you good vibes all the way!

To see it in the Plastiki crew's own words & the picure above, click the title "Red Letter Plastiki Day", or click here:  

To see what they're going to see, check out this informative video of the Great Garbage Patch, David de Rothschild, & the Plastiki:

T-Minus 8 Days & Counting

What:  Earth Hour 2010

When:  Next Saturday, March 27th, 2010 from 8:30 to 9:30 pm

Where:  A House Near You...with the light OUT!

Why:  To make a stand and take action for planet with this one-hour, world-wide lights-out event.

What you can do:  Last year, we had a great school-wide Earth Hour event in the dark & candlelight where many students joined us for fun, food, and games on Eagle Cove’s campus.  This year, in the wake of our February fire and reconstruction, we won't be having a school event, but that doesn't stop us from encouraging our families and friends both near and far to join us in spirits at our own, individual homes! 

Our Challenge to You:  Get something started in your own house with your family, with your friends, or your neighborhood.  Ceremoniously take part in Earth Hour 2010 by turning out your lights together, as a family or as a community.

Ways to Enjoy your Hour:  Have a candlelit event; eat dinner outside with a moonlit picnic; play outdoor games by flashlight or moonlight; roast marshmallows outdoors; go “unplugged” for an hour:  no TV, games, radios, electronics; go stargazing or a night hike; play indoor board games as a family by candlelight; go camping in the great outdoors; encourage businesses to turn off their non-essential lights…come up with your own adventure!

To Learn More:   
 picture from

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Living o'the Green

In addition to our green attire, the corned beef and cabbage, and the Irish Music lilting about, yesterday we did a little "living o'the green" here at our house.  My kids and I took advantage of Spring Break and the 65 degree weather. We painted our patiently-waiting rainbarrel.  The weather-du-jour seemed to make for the perfect day to take on this task, which has been on my "want to do" list since last fall.
We were all pleased as punch with our final product!  The only thing left to do is hook it up to our downspout, and let our yard reap the reward of nature's gift.  Plus, we'll have the memory of our outdoor fun of our painting day!
For more information about rainbarrels, click the title above, or click 
Pictures courtesy of my camera!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Eat Green

The following is the text from an email my sister-in-law forwarded to me from the Nutrition Consultant & Wellness Coordinator at her workplace, Dynasplint.  Perfect follow up to yesterday's "Wearing O'the Green."  Thanks for sharing Lori.

"We all know green is the color to symbolize St. Patrick's Day. This year, instead of dying your eggs, milk, and other foods green, why not try and see how many 'green' fruits and vegetables you can add to your day!?

Green foods are full of healthy vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. The possibilities are endless...spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, avocado, green apples, kiwifruit, asparagus, green beans, green Bell peppers, green grapes, zucchini, cucumbers, and more!

Try to add green to your soups, salad, sandwiches, or casseroles. Snack green! Load your plate with high fiber choices such as broccoli or spinach. Grab veggies high in vitamin K for bone health; choose vegetables such as asparagus, spinach, kale, or collard greens. Add avocado to your diet for a great source of vitamin E and a boost to help lower your cholesterol with the help of the monounsaturated fats. Snack on green apples to aid in digestion and heart health.

Whatever your choice of green, go for it! Celebrate this St. Patrick's Day, the healthy way!

-tips from the American Dietetic Association

Casey Hepburn, Nutrition Consultant & Wellness Coordinator
Stretch Beyond Your Expectations. ®"

Picture from