Sunday, January 30, 2011

MD Children in Nature

Maryland's Department of Natural Resources site has "beaucoup" resources indeed, focusing on getting kids outdoors. From the website:
"We created the Partnership for Children in Nature to make sure all Maryland young people have the opportunity to learn about their environment, connect with the natural world, and grow to become responsible stewards." ~ Governor Martin O'Malley
On their "Children In Nature" page, you've got links galore....

Start with Maryland "Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights" (featured from their site here above).

Choose where to go next through their pictoral links or tabs.  Get information on green schools, crafts, community resources, "making a difference," "cool places" to go, and Maryland Park Events (such as the Maryland ParkQuest).  There are resources featured specifically for parents, educators, and children (including February 18--21st's Great Backyard Bird Count or learn what "Green Hour" is).  They also have tons of kid-friendly info sheets about animals & the outdoors, activities to get kids moving and grooving, and upcoming workshops for adults and children alike.  

Do you have to be a Marylander to appreciate this site--not at all!! Yes, obviously some of the events are local, but given the wealth of resources on site, it's a definite great find!  Make a rendezvous to go to   While you're there, check out the 2 videos...especially the "Polar Bear Sky" one at the bottom of the "Children in Nature's" page to see Maryland Green School students make imagery come alive!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Science for Citizens: "Snow Tweets"

You know the tune...sing along:

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go,
Let It snow, Let it snow, Let it snow.

It doesn't show signs of stopping,
And I've bought some corn for popping,
The lights are turned way down low,
Let It snow, Let it snow, Let it snow.
When we finally kiss goodnight,
How I'll hate going out in the storm. .....

t's about this time in my class, when the verse about kissing comes up, that 3rd graders start oohing and ahhing--and not because they think I'm a lyrical genius!. 8 and 9 year olds get grossed out at the thought of that lovey dovey stuff.

But it's here that "Science for Citizens" comes a-calling.  This project-based website ( has many projects, one of which is where they are on the look out for "snow tweets."  What is a "snow tweet," you may ask?  Well, it's where you (whoever you might be) can indicate, via twitter,  how much snow is in your arena.  

The researchers at "Science for Citizens" are on the quest for measurements indicating the snowy ground cover in order to mark their map.  You are the researchers in the field (and the informant), and they are the data collectors.  Anyone who has a ruler, a computer, a twitter account, and an interest in getting involved. can "tweet" this info to Science for Citizens and be a part of something bigger than yourself.
Map DataImagery ©2011 NASA - Terms of Use

Map Data
Imagery ©2011 NASA

According to the website (click the link or title above), just:
"Sign in to your Twitter account (or sign up, it's free!) and write a message that looks like this: #snowtweets 2.5 cm at N2L 3G1"
All you need to do is swap out the snow depth measurement with your own locale, and the depth measurement of your local snow.  This is a great classroom activity in any of the snowier regions to take part in something "real."  In fact, how much more real-life scientific data/impact can you get?  

Additionally, you can search the site by topic under "Citizen Science Projects" or look to the dozens of projects for something that speaks to you....such as from observing hummingbirds, visiting parts of the Appalachian Mountains, record ice on waterways, and more!

Ultimately, it becomes a relatively easy way (for you or your students) to be a scientist in the field, taking part in a project larger than yourself! 

Snowflake image from where there's actually a great lesson on "Snowflake Similes" and "Snowflake Bentley."  What a perfect tie in!!

Map image from to show the current snow tweets.