Monday, October 29, 2012

The "Frankenstorm" Is Here

As the winds start whipping up, the "fiercest" of this very rainy, hurricane-y day, here's to squeaking out a quickie post before the power goes down. Seems like the right time for a follow up to yesterday's "I'm Not a Climatologist, but Frankenstorm Sandy's A-Coming" post.

It was a dark and stormy night...

Classic horror tale starter.  Yet, tonight as the rains hammer down, as the winds kick up, as "Frankenstorm Sandy" makes landfall here in the Northeast, it's the perfect description for tonight.  After a day off school, watching the rain come down, laying in wait for the power to go out, hoping the sump pump holds out and the backyard saturation doesn't funnel down the basement cellar door stairs, the pitter patter of the rain is now second nature.

I find it interesting that CNN apparently has banned from their commentary the use of the term "Frankenstorm."  Too scary.  Hearing the storm with it's whipping winds, intensifying here, I feel the looming doom.  I've watched the news a bulk of the day, seeing pictures of Ocean City, MD drowning away, and numerous other sites up and down the coast.  Heck ya, it's scary!

Hurricane Sandy - Olivia Newton-John - Grease - P 2012A great article that doubly agrees in the scariness of a not-so-scarily-named Hurricane Sandy, is an article from "Think Progress' Climate Progress" written by Joe Romm. The title isn't short and sweet, but it hits it to a 'T': "CNN Bans Term 'Frankenstorm,' But It's A Good Metaphor for Warming-Driven Monster: 'Largest Hurricane in Atlantic History."

Joe includes some "unprecedented" quotes about this unprecedented storm by some well-knowns from the climate/weather world. My personal favorite quotes are from Joe himself where he agrees with environmental author & educator Bill McKibben that "Frankenstorm" is indeed precisely the right name for Hurricane Sandy.
"Frankenstein — and his monster — have become a metaphor for the unintentional consequences of scientific and technological advances.... The name “Frankenstorm” fits. Ostro says this is “even more extreme” than the infamous Perfect Storm of 1991. The unique severity of the storm is the point! Manmade warming has consequences.... Manmade climate change is one monster we still have some control over. But here’s the final warning. We are already seeing Frankenstorms, and we’ve only warmed about 1.4°F over the past century. We are on track to see more than 5 times that warming this century. The monster storms that would spawn are beyond imagining." ~ Joe Romm
Ouch!  When are we all going to open our eyes and take heed?  In a state that currently has a hurricane warning for this side of the state, and a blizzard warning for Western Maryland, how many floods, forest fires, derecho storms, record snow falls, Frankenstorms, and other massive weather events is it going to take until we take heed??

To all who are in the path of destruction and doom of Frankenstorm Sandy, may safety, security, electricity, and a dry environment be yours, this dark and stormy night.

Snoopy pic from; Hurricane Sandy from Grease photo from

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I'm Not A Climatologist, But Frankenstorm Sandy is A-Coming!

I am not a climatologist, nor do I play one on TV.  However, it doesn't take a climate scientist or a rocket scientist to know that we on the US East Coast have a doozy of a storm coming our way.  Hurricane Sandy, still a few days away, already holds hope and promise of being one for the books.
My history of hurricanes goes back, and (just like the winds and wetness of a hurricane) keeps swirling back:

  My wedding got rerouted 24 hours before "I do's" given 1999's Hurricane Floyd hitting Maryland, knocking out power of the venue where my husband and I had planned to get married/have the reception.

  I lived in Florida from 2001 to 2007, where we had a string of some nasty named storms, but we were lucky enough to escape all major hits. We put out sandbags, we boarded the house, we saw the water rise on the streets and the trees bend like twigs. We traveled to family on the other, drier Florida coast, and for one storm in 2005 I even bolted to my folks in Illinois--assured that it would be "3rd time's the charm!" that season.  Again we lucked out.

  This weekend, I have books on desks and everything "up" in my classroom, as do others in my Magothy River-edged school. Sandbags school-wide to follow. With my classroom being the closest to the shoreline, I'm not taking any chances. (Especially when I know that the storm surge of Hurricane Isabel in 2003 hit at high tide, putting the water level above the 5-foot dockside fence. Yes, I'm fearing the prediction that history may well be repeating itself here with Hurricane Sandy.)

I'm not a climatologist, but I read the news.  I know that this is predicted to be a "Frankenstorm" as it seems to have all the elements of multiple storm systems coming together simultaneously, with a cold front potentially stalling it, which will prolong the effects.

I'm not a climatologist, but I AM an environmental educator at a Maryland "Green" School who has read a number of books and articles on planetary climate change.  A great quote, especially on this storm is from Climate Science Watch's Jordan Nichols:
"To adapt a famous quote on another subject: you may not be interested in climate change, but climate change is interested in you. While both presidential candidates and moderators of the debates have taken criticism for avoiding the subject of climate change, it may not be that easy for residents on the U.S. East Coast to avoid the effects of the 'Frankenstorm' -- Hurricane Sandy.... It seems Mother Nature is sending us a message. It’s almost as if Mother Nature trying to tell us something, 'you can ignore climate change all you want, but its not going away.'”
 I find Nichols' commentary fascinating--if not humorous--here on the cusp of the election.  It's a good article--you need to read it!!

It led me to wondering, and conducting my own research.  I went to the NOAA site and found a list of the number of named storms since data recording started in 1851.  They have a nice chart, which I then adapted to the following chart, grouping the data by decades and averaging it out. (Click on it to enlarge it).

I then used my above "Storm Chart by Decade" data to make a graph with one of my favorite kid-friendly graph sites:  Create a Graph.  Like I said, I'm not a climatologist, but the trend between number of  named storms, number of hurricanes, and number of major hurricanes is clearly visible, with the last 20 years being the highest on the graph in 2 of the 3 categories.  Middle elementary and older students could do the same activity, and chart their own, same results!

I'm not a climatologist, but Nichols' article is consistent with much of the other climate change information out there:  the warmer our planet gets, the warmer our ocean waters get, which makes it ripe for more (and more severe) weather events such as hurricanes.  Another quote from Nichols' Climate Science Watch article:
"Using data from storm surges, the 'abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above predicted astronomical tides,' Grinsted now had data from as far back as the 1920s. What did they find? 'Using surges as an indicator we see an increase in all magnitudes of storms when ocean temperatures are warmer,' according to Michael D. Lemonick of Climate Central."
As Nichols states in his closing:
"Our climate is changing; this is now more painfully obvious than ever. Recent studies suggest that the majority of the coasts in the United States are vulnerable to rising seas due to climate change. The signs and warnings are very clear, but there is no sense of urgency to prepare for our impending climate 50 years from now. The United States has fallen behind on this front, while other countries are planning for the future....The seas will rise, whether we believe in climate change or not, so we must adapt and prepare. What we need is political leadership to start talking about climate change again, no matter whether it’s an election year or not. Time is running out on preventive action, while the 'Frankenstorm' draws nearer."
View outside my classroom door.
It's been said before (many a-time)--I am not a climatologist. But my question is this:  Do I need to be when these are the reports that are out there?  Seems like all I need to be is an informed voter, an educated "educator," and a girl who needs to batten down the hatches, because (ready or not), Frankenstorm Sandy is going to rear her ugly head!

Hurricane Sandy projection map from; photos from my camera of hurricanes past and near present, Table data adapted from, and graph created using the table data here and the Create A Graph website (

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cut Your Trash Impact--There's an App For That

In today's world of smartphones, iPads, Kindle Fires and more, it seems like the latest joke is "There's an app for that."  Well, it's true when it comes to going green--at least it is over at Ocean Conservancy.

Just like a pebble thrown out in the water can make a vast, far-reaching impact, so can Rippl, the Ocean Concervancy's newest app. Using their free app, you can build in reminders, track your progress, and help you build habits.  Check out their mini-video:

From their website, Rippl's highlight's include: 
  • Free green living tips to improve daily habits;
  • Goal setting capability to track your anti-trash impact;
  • Alerts you can customize to help you schedule reminders and build habits;
  • Recommendations backed by science to help you work toward a healthier planet
  • Online opportunities for you to build your green community & share personal sustainability successes!
So it seems like a quick visit the app store  might be in order to help your smartphone make YOU smarter and greener, living a more sustainable lifestyle!!

Image and video from  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Blythe Danner, Juliane Moore, Jessica Capshaw, & More Moms About Climate Change This Election Year

Here as we face election day, a mere, 17 days away, it seemed natural that this should be the GTG post du jour. Especially from a mom, and to the moms out there in America and Beyond!!

From Their website:

Now there’s another powerful group supporting our right to clean air: Moms Clean Air ForceMoms have passion and power — an unbeatable combination. We are harnessing the strength of mother love to fight back against polluters.  Moms are joining together, to come out in strength for our kids’ right to clean air — just as our parents fought for us, forty years ago, to get the Clean Air Act signed into law by President Richard Nixon. Moms Clean Air Force is nonpartisan–because clean air should be more important than politics.  On our website, we post everything for parents to understand what is at stake: nothing less than the health of our children, as well as future generations.

For More from these famous ladies and beyond, and from Moms in favor of Clean Air, check out

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Refreshing Sip of Online Lemonade

Some days there's nothing more refreshing than a tall, cool glass of lemonade. Other days, nothing makes your day like curling up with a good book. The best day ever... when you can so both!! Carrollwood Day School, an independent school in Tampa, Florida has figured out a way--with a little dash of technology--to do both!

Carrollwood Day School [CDS] teachers have a program they run annually called CDS Reads. It started out as a literacy program to capture the love of reading within their student population.  They began by giving every family in their school a copy of the same book to read for a school-wide, shared reading experience. Yet for this third season of this program, with a little help from the Internet and the ease these days of website creators, this school project was able to become global!! Which is perfectly suited for CDS given it is an International Baccalaureate School! Why limit yourself with just a school community of readers, when truly the sky is the limit?!

photo.JPGThis season's read aloud is Jacqueline Davies' book "The Lemonade War" which is the first in her series by the same name. In the book, Davies pits brother against sister in a competition with entrepreneurial spirit. They each are working hard to beat the other out at the end of the summer by being the one who earns the most money selling lemonade.  My kids and I were snuggled nightly on the couch, waiting to see what triumphs, trials, and tribulations Jessie and Evan would face in the latest layer of "The Lemonade War." The story did not disappoint!

Nor did the concept. It was entertaining to hear each new chapter read by a new teacher--each adding in their own nuances, voices, and slant to the storytelling. What the world needs are more websites like this that promote the love of reading while also providing an enriching family experience!

As my son and daughter collectively wrote for their final celebration:
"We thought that the 'Lemonade War' was a cool, awesome, extremely amazing, "cash-tastic" book. It was a good story about money-making, friend-making, lemonade-making...and the importance of working hard, saying apologies, and caring for your family. Even if your brother or sister sometimes makes you crazy! ;-)"

I'm looking forward to continuing the story with my own students in my classroom, then concocting a fun iPad activity follow-up.  My plan: to forward our class creations to the webmaster at CDS Reads. I'll keep you the meantime, I think I might be having a hankering for a crisp, cool glass of lemonade...

I can't wait to settle in with the sequel "the Lemonade Crime."

Pictures from my camera!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

EdCamp 4: Goodies Galore!

Ahhh!  Another delightful day spent yesterday, hanging out with like-minded, tech-minded educators at EdCamp Hagerstown.  This trip marks my 4th EdCamp.  When I look back at my past EdCamp history, it hits me that my very first one was approximately this same time last fall.  It also marks the 150th EdCamp since it's start in May 2010. Additionally, it marks the start of a pretty progressive EdCamp season for me.  EdCamp Harrisburg and EdCamp Baltimore are just around the corner in these next weeks ahead--marked in big letters on my calendar. 

Yes, it's safe to say, I might be a tad addicted.

One would argue perhaps you'd HAVE to be--sacrificing a Saturday (and weather-wise, a beautiful one at that!).  Add in a 1.5 hour drive.  But the time goes quickly when you bring along an "EdCamp Newbie" to her first EdCamp. Additionally, her enthusiasm brought about some bravery for me as we both facilitated a session (a first for me!).  We talked about our experience of iPad implementation--which was a great follow up to the iPad session we attended right before it. What a great way to let the conversation continue!! 

Once again, the wealth gained at EdCamp was enormous!  There's no place I would have rather been that soaking in the knowledge, networking, and news from other educators who want to bring EdTech, iPads, energy, and more into their classrooms.  As always, you walk away with so much!! You can't help it with the EdCamp philosophy of "The Rule of 2 Feet" (where you are urged to be on the move, to get yourself to the room that will do you the greatest amount of good based on what your interests are.)

The Hagerstown EdCamp Team started us out with this video, which served as an excellent framework to start of the day:

I framed my day largely around iPads, and got a chance to talk a lot with the other amazing educators who were also living along in iPadLandia!  Ideas and apps are now swimming around in my head. Kudos & congrats to the planning team for creating such a wonderful #edtech experience!!

To share the wealth, the EdCamp Hagerstown crew created the following Google Docs of Session Notes where they compiled all the goodies from all the sessions of the day.  Talk about comprehensive!!  Another great way to learn of the goodies galore is to check out the  #edcamphagerstown hashtag on Twitter.

Needless to say...if you haven't ever been to an EdCamp, you don't know what you are missing!!  You need to solve that problem--because it IS a problem!!  To find one near you, check out the EdCamp Wiki site, search the map, mark your calendar, and make your way to a great #EdTech day!! 

EdCamp Logo from and the "A Serious Talk" video from .