Monday, January 27, 2014

E-STEM = Adding the Environment to STEM Education

STEM is definitely becoming one of the major buzzwords in the educational field these days.  For those of you who might have missed that memo, STEM stands for:

A great addition that I have seen is STEAM, where the A is the addition of Art.  In fact, I just ran across a fabulous resource over at the We Are Teachers' blog entitled:  "60 apps for Teaching STEAM."  (I bet you can figure out what it's all about.) just keeps getting better.  Kudos to Rick Reynolds & his Prezi presentation for introducing me to E-STEM.  Here, the initial E stands for Environment.  It marries two of my favorite subjects, and two ideas that go well together "naturally."   Check it out by watching the Prezi found here.  (Click Rick's name above to check out his handful of other great environmental education presentations.)

As the Prezi shared, you can download the Oregon Environmental plan at

STEM icons from
Rick Reynolds' Prezi from:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Middle Schooler's Eco-Perspective

As a parent, you can't help but feel the swell of pride when one of your children does good.  You feel their accomplishments and successes in a special way, and your heart sings.

It's kind of like that with your former students too.

Mackenzie Boughey was in my 3rd grade class at Eagle Cove School several years ago.  I've seen her grow up, as a classmate of my daughter's in kindergarten to the middle schooler she is today.  As an alum of Eagle Cove School (my school that just recently announced that it is closing at the end of the school year), Mackenzie has some interesting perspectives on both ECS and its closing this June.  She shared those in an article she wrote for Bay Weekly.  It posted January 23, 2014, and you can find it and other fabulous stories in the Bay Weekly by clicking here.

by Mackenzie Boughey, 1/23/2014
(reprinted from this week's Bay Weekly)
"In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.  –Abraham Lincoln
The life in my years is what I was thinking about as I walked forward last June for my fifth grade graduation from Eagle Cove School in Pasadena. Lots of life was packed into my seven years there — from meeting influential people, such as Jane Goodall and Dr. Ben Carson, to fun and educational field trips and a great environmental education.

We raised and released terrapins in Chesapeake Bay and went canoeing and seining in science class. We learned to respect our environment by recycling, composting, saving electricity, and growing vegetables and herbs in our geodesic-dome greenhouse. We learned to take care of others by making Easter baskets for needy kids and making sandwiches for the homeless.
Add in beautiful landscape and creative and caring teachers, and you start to understand why I love my school.
Eagle Cove School (earlier Gibson Island Country School) has been a place full of special memories for my family and me. I have spent seven out of my 12 years of life learning and growing at the school. My grandfather, famous outdoors writer Bill Burton, was so inspired by my school’s environmental awareness and programs that he donated much of his personal library there. My mother and grandmother came to school to give my second grade class rods and teach us all how to fish, as my grandfather had taught them and me. The nature trail along the water is the Burton Boughey Trail.
Last week, we learned that our 58-year-old school will close at the end of this term. “After the recession in 2008, enrollment dropped at independent private schools across the country, and unfortunately, we were a victim,” said Headmistress Laura Kang.
It is sad how great things have to come to an end. I learned that when my grandfather died, so I know how much will be lost to Eagle Cove School’s closing. It will be such a loss for the teachers who have spent many years at the school, their home away from home. It will be hard for the fourth graders, who would have graduated in 2015, to miss their special ceremony. Pre-kindergartners who got a small taste of all the school offers will miss out on much more. Generations of kids won’t get any of the great experiences Eagle Cove Schoolers have had for over half a century.
At Eagle Cove School, we have been given the desire to always learn more and do better.

The hundreds of students who learned that lesson through the years will continue to change the world. As did a current third-grader who convinced his summer camp to start its first recycling program. Now imagine all 76 current students, 20 staff members and so many graduates all going out into the world and spreading the lessons like these.
That’s the silver lining in this cloud."

Article reprinted, logo, and photograph image from 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Shivering & Sleeping In With the Polar Vortex

Brrr....It's been cold out there last week...and now again another burst this week too.

Unless you've been under a rock, you've noticed that most of the continent has been sucked this January into the place called the "Polar Vortex." In case you missed it, the polar vortex was a Santa Clausian burst of frigid air, bigger than Santa's pack, coming down from the North Pole, attacking those of us who least expected it (and probably hadn't adapted to the right winter coat yet!)

According to CNN:
"The polar vortex, as it sounds, is circulation of strong, upper-level winds that normally surround the northern pole in a counterclockwise direction -- a polar low-pressure system. These winds tend to keep the bitter cold air locked in the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It is not a single storm. On occasion, this vortex can become distorted and dip much farther south than you would normally find it, allowing cold air to spill southward."
Brrrr, I say, brrrr, I say brrrr!

So even though it was snow day #2 today here, the sub-human temps were such that we kept us staying largely indoors since the "brrr factor" was high.  Yes, I did kick my kids out to go have multiple shorter snow fun times, but given the cold that has overrun my body, my couch and I agreed with the earlier ruling, and just chillaxed!

3 things today have fallen in the "things that make you go 'hmmm' category:

Snow pics from my camera.
Global Average temp graph from
Video from

Friday, January 17, 2014

Taking Action to Save the Crab Cake

My husband and I went out to dinner at a really nice Annapolis last Saturday night.  After a hard week, it was quite a delightful escape.  Here's an image I am certainly glad I did NOT see on my decorative dinner plate:

No matter what, there's no wine on the list that goes with "crap cake."

Chesapeake Bay Foundation has made a pretty pointed advertisement about what is wrong with our waterways.  Their main target:  water runoff--especially that which picks up the junk like floating trash (which is primarily plastic that never biodegrades), sediment, puppy "poo," the oil you dump down the drain, and the fertilizer & pesticides of farming/lawn grooming.  The "crap," if you will.

The lack of storm water management slides all this pollution and muck into the rivers and streams, and gives waterways like the Chesapeake Bay the poor health scores they've been getting.

By clicking here, you can go directly to Chesapeake Bay Foundation's site to make a little extra noise with the Maryland legislature.  You can insert your zip code and a letter will come up (which you can modify), readily addressed to alert your Maryland legislative representatives that you'd prefer more crab (and less crap) in your crab cakes.  It's a great way to take action and help make an environmental difference.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation - Saving a National Treasure

Disturbing image and logo both  from

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Loving Bill Nye

Ah, I love Bill Nye the Science Guy.  This was a nice find today on Upworthy, showing you just how much Bill Nye knew 20 some-odd years ago, and how much he still knows today!

As found from Upworthy's "If you Didn't Love Bill Nye Before You See This, You'll Love Him After (Or You're A Cold Robot)" article

Video from

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

As I near 18,000 pedometer steps today, and 14,000 steps yesterday (approx 13 miles so far), I feel I may indeed be wearing a circle path thin in my carpet at my home as I walk circles and pace: bleary-eyed, teary-eyed, and heavy-sighed.  The last 2 days have been overwhelming to say the least, emotionally exhausting indeed.

Yesterday we learned (both as teachers and as parents) that unfortunately due to $$ constraints and repeated low enrollment that the Board unanimously decided to close down my home away from home, Eagle Cove School, at the end of this school year.

Here is the place that I watched my Kindergarten daughter graduate from 5th grade last year, giving a speech and all (and even in a dress!!). It was here she took on 5th grade boys on the soccer field when she was in 1st and 2nd (which is a proud moment for a mom on recess duty!) Here is where my li'l PreK boy could go from holding hands with a class gal pal to screaming "Don't look at me" (hard to do when one is screaming)... in a nanosecond!  It is here that my PreK'er has become an amazing 2nd grade reader & a class leader--one who I was soo looking forward to having in my 3rd grade class with me next year, just as I had Delaney in my class 3 years ago.  Better than homeschooling by 100-fold!   And the thing that makes me tear up every time.

It is here I found my footing in my 5th school "I have ever taught at" in the 3 states in "I have ever lived."  It is here where in my 3rd grade classroom has become my "room with a view" of the Magothy River & the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  I found my niche as an environmental educator in this amazing "Maryland Green" school. I became a self-taught whiz as an EdTech iPadLandia teacher--what fun can be had in the classroom & teaching teachers, and what autonomy I have enjoyed!!  It was here I saw Jane Goodall speak, and it was because of here, I met Dr. Ben Carson with my class.

It is here at Eagle Cove School that I have found 2 dozen amazing colleagues, all of whom I love and adore for their creativity and their wisdom, their willing to jump in and do all the hard work, and then jump back and celebrate together.  Such comradery, laughter, and common vision.  A group of educators, and a family of friends.  I have had them for 6 1/2 years, and I will have them for another 5 months.   I can't imagine not seeing them daily for the next dozen years.  Eagle Cove School was the kind of place I felt I could have retired the very least, I was eager to see Ian graduate from 5th grade from there.

I have come to a place in my life where I still don't like "change" (and doubt, given my personality, I ever will).  I like to believe in the illusion of "control."   But I also have seen evidence that "everything happens for a reason."  I have seen one job does indeed serendipitously lead to the next. Almost like it was predestined or meant to be.  I have seen it occur almost as magic.  It's just hard now, changing the expectation that Ian won't graduate from the school that I know and love and thought he would see all the way through.   Yet, on an early level (and a core level), I know that the serendipitous path will lead us to a great place...all I need to do now is remember that in the stressful times!!
I have begun thinking that we have these 2 dozen of us "Eagle Covians" who are versed in green and eco-living.  If we go out to 24 new schools, think of the message we can begin to send.  Think of the vision we all can begin to share.  Perhaps it is time to spread us to the wind so that we can go forth and work toward a great place.  Some may call that hopeful, or idealistic, or perhaps even "Pollyanna-ish," but maybe that's the purpose of where we are now.

I am still bleary-eyed and teary-eyed, and hating the whole idea of this "job hunting" thing, but maybe there is method in this madness.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
When given lemons, make a li'l lemonade and vodka!
Cheers to my friends, colleagues, comrades, and ECS pals!!

Photo:  "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" pic from

ECS boat pic from

Jane Goodall pic from

The Waders March pic from

Oyser kiss

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ringing in the New Year with UpWorthy & Gratitutde

I think UpWorthy is one of my new favorite websites and FaceBook pages.  I love how "good" the "meatiness" is. You walk away feeling vindicated...that comfy feeling you get when you are with like-minded individuals.  From their About & FAQ page, this part details their mission beautifully:

"We're a mission-driven media company. We're not a newspaper — we'd rather speak truth than appear unbiased. And we're not a political campaign — we're more interested in the powerless versus the powerful than in Democrats versus Republicans. 
But we do have a point of view. We're pro-gay-marriage, and we're anti-child-poverty. We think the media is horrible to women, we think climate change is real, and we think the government has a lot to learn from the Internet about efficiency, disruption, and effectiveness."
My latest UpWorthy find is about the 365 Grateful project.  Here on New Year's Day, it seems like another good way to refocus your perspective.  Watch the video below to watch creator Hailey Bartholomew describe her vision for how to "shift her vision" through a photo a day paired with gratitude.  She succinctly discusses how gratitude changed her, her marriage, her clarity for life, and her ability to truly see the wealth that surrounds her (both in life and in nature).

[Click here or here if there becomes an issue with the playback for the video.] from hailey bartholomew on Vimeo.

The wheels in my mind are turning after watching this--both personally and professionally.  Personally, I have seen the healing power in the past that gratitude can bring.  During a really difficult time in my history (roughly 15-20 years ago), I compiled a list of 100 things I was thankful for.  It took 2 months. Being visual, I think the photo element of this could capture a true historical snapshot!  Professionally, I am finding myself contemplating ways I could craft this idea into an iMovie, Smilebox, or iPad lesson activity.  The beauty of gratitude is that it works for any age.

Before I close, I think there's a question that needs to be asked--one that only you can answer for you:

What photo would you take today?  What are you grateful for du jour?

Quote & logo from
Video from as found at
Gratitude image from