Friday, May 29, 2015

African Endangered Species Infographic

I've been doing some research as of late on infographics for a summer professional workshop I'll be presenting at school.  There are some really amazing ones out there.  Here's a great one I found on Endangered Species over at Pinfographics.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Earth Day Family Maker Night 2015

A few weeks ago, at the start of May, I went to a Maryland Educational Technology retreat.  While there, one of the Keynotes, Danielle Martin, shared this image in her presentation which served as a wonderful wrap up to the conference where so much of the focus was on "The Maker Movement."

At our school, we are not new to the "Maker Movement," as it has been a theme for our year.  We have been inspiring creativity and innovation with STEM & STEAM challenges.  Our "Computer Lab" has been transformed with new furniture in invite a more open, new mindset; it is now known as "The Maker Lab."  No longer are students merely learning how to format Word documents, create Power Points, and learn keyboarding.  Yes, that is a part, but much of that integration is happening in the classroom (and why I have my current position).  They are also learning introductory coding, how to create multi-dimensional objects through 123D Design for the 3D printer, and how conductive playdoh works.  Yes, these are elementary students.

This Earth Day, we combined the Maker Movement with a slice of environmentalism.  The task put forth to the children was to use the Design Process to create an at-home, "Family Maker Night" creation (as a family team), making something with Earth Day in mind, through creativity and upcycling. Then, students were to bring both their project in as well as their reflection sheet of how their family worked through the challenge.

The results?  Pretty fabulous.  The tables were filled with a sundry of homemade items.  Class projects were also displayed:  3rd graders had a table of pioneer settlements. 5th graders created interactive games using MaKey Makeys, where they programmed cardboard creations to perform with the help of laptops & the online programming website Scratch).  Kindergartners used iPads & the ReadWriteThink app Timeline to document the Lego building of world structures in the vision of Lego Sculpturist Nathan Sawaya.

To get a taste of what Earth Day looked like in our neck of the woods, check out this Smilebox. Additionally, click here for the Flickr Page of even more--78 more--marvelous pictures from our Earth Day Maker Night.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Free digital slideshow customized with Smilebox

"I am a Maker" photo from a snapshot of my conference, but also found here:

Additional pictures from my own camera and put into a Smilebox video presentation.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Happy World Turtle Day 2015

You say "to-may-toe," I say "to-mah-toe."
You say "turtle," I say "chelonian" (which sounds remarkably like "colonian").

I don't, but I could.   Especially on World Turtle Day:  May 23rd annually.

World Turtle Day originally hatched in 2000 by the American Tortoise Rescue (which itself began in 1990).  Given that turtles and tortoises have a number of threats--mostly human instigated--raising awareness is always a good thing.  Threats include:
  • exotic food trade
  • illegal pet trade
  • habitat destruction
  • climate change
  • bycatch from fisheries
  • consumption of marine debris
According to NOAA, all seven world species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered.

To enhance your inside information about turtles & tortoises:

1.  Watch this 2 and a half minute video from The Guardian.
2. Read a good turtle book. My favorite? Turtles in My Sandbox, by Jennifer Keats Curtis. You will find some engaging activities to go along with this book from the publisher Sylvan Dell

3. Check out to learn more about animals of any species--especially if you are curious about their conservation status (vulnerable, critical, or endangered). Here with these links, you are a mere click away from creating your own archive of chelonian knowledge at ARKive:
4. For Lesson Plans, World Turtle Day or any other day, check out the following links:
5. Looking for ways to help out our shelled reptilian friends? Huffington Post's "World Turtle Day" article lists some ideas for what you can do to help.

-World Turtle Day Photos from
-Chelonian definition a screenshot from
-Video from

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend Ahead: Red, White, Blue & Green

Memorial Day:  A solemn day of celebration & remembrance of the many men and women who fought for our freedoms, rights, and American privileges.  We are lucky to have had those people who dedicated their lives to us.

Memorial Day Weekend:  In addition to this day of honoring our soldiers and freedom fighters, it also somewhat serves as the universal start to summer.  Just ask Phineas & Ferb (& then sing it with me):

(Don't get me started on how we are only a mere matter of weeks away from the June 12th, series finale of possibly the greatest cartoon out there for old and young alike! I'm not sure the world is ready for a world without Phineas & Ferb, but I digress).

So you might not be building a roller coaster in your backyard, and your inner-Doufenshmirtz might not be planning the next -inator....but you might be more knee-deep in graduation season, grabbing a bathing suit for the first weekend of the pool opening, heading out camping, or planning a tasty BBQ.

Believe it or not, you can do it all in a "green" sort of way, without going the way of a mega Phineas & Ferb style creation.  With a little inspiration from TreeHugger's "9 Tips for Zero Waste Entertaining This Summer," here are some thing you can do:

  • Invest in some stainless steel straws (check out our Mai Tai welcome to the weekend.  I got mine from
  • Go real & reusable versus paper or plastic (for plates, cups, cutlery, table cloths & more).
  • Ditch the single serve sodas & waters.  Especially if you are on your back patio, a pitcher of ice cold water, juice, or sun tea can be quite yummy.
  • Make your kabobs with metal skewers, or invest in reusable mini ones to replace your wooden toothpicks.  
  • Use evites versus printed invitations.
  • Do a beach or campsite clean-up while out and about on your ventures.
  • Don't forget to set up your recycling center for anything you may need.  Definitely keep it trash-free if you must branch outside of glass & stainless steel/real!
  • Compost your leftovers and food scraps.
  • Think outside the box, be creative, and come up with your own eco-friendly ways to go about having a zero-waste celebration.

Images from 
Memorial Day: 
Phineas & Ferb:
Mai Tai pic taken from my back yard, and put in the Motivational Poster app--complete with reusable stainless steel straw.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Perils of Plastic

Pathetic Plastic & Evil Styrofoam.  Ask my 3rd grader what I hate, and he'll come up with one or the other.

It's amazing too, regarding plastic, as it is everywhere.  A trip to the grocery story will confirm it. I've gone off before on plastic wrapped apples & bananas.

The following video (of the same name) from It's A Plastic World does an interesting and thorough job of showcasing just how prevalent plastic is


Additionally, here's a startling article from One Green Planet I just ran across further indicating the perils of plastic.  It's headline says it all:
700 Marine Species Might Go Extinct Because of Plastic Pollution. Here Are 5 Ways You Can Help!
Some of the highlights:
  • The EPA has indicated 32 tons of plastic waste are created a year.          (32 tons?!  Plastic is light, so the vast bulk of that is hard to wrap your mind around!)
  • Only 9% of that is recovered.
  • All known specials of sea turtles and half the sea bird species have had run-ins with plastic (either entanglement or ingestion).
The upshot...a continued course could lead to extinction of multiple species AND toxicity on our dinner table.  But, I like that this article adds some ideas to help turn that around.  Small things each one of us can do to take action from moving to reusable, non-plastic alternatives, taking our own bags to ward off using items like plastic backs which were created to be discarded, and moving away from both synthetic fibers and microbeaded products.  By using our spending dollar as the decision maker, we can make a difference.  

For some more good ideas, check out this "Plastic Detox" poster:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

An Infographic Chronicling Our Recycling Habits

I posed the question the other day as to why on Earth (in this day and age) is it that we don't recycle more?

Apparently, there's an infographic on that.  Click here for a zoomable version of this from

Bottom line:  It's lack of good knowledge.  So go forth and educate yourself and others so we can go forth and do Anne Arundel County's motto:  "Recycle More Often."

Infographic a screenshot from

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Recover Brothers Recycling Videos

It's 2015, and by now it should be a no-brainer to recycle.  Unfortunately, "should" is the operative Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the goal is 50% recycling, yet overall, the county is at 44% (up from years past where it was in the upper 30's percent).  This is somewhat promising, yet ask yourself how you'd feel about a score of 44% or 50% on a test.
word, and it's still not happening.

In a neat interactive over at the AA Co's "Recycle More Often" website shows some of what is still landing over at the landfill.  Along with that is the number 26% --which is the reported amount of what the county citizens could move over to their recycle bins.

Additionally, their Sesame-Street-esque video series of "The Recover Brothers" puts it into plain and simple terms:

Video from and

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Story of Microbeads

Annie Leonard from the "Story of Stuff" Project does it again,  She and her team of  activists & illustrators from Free Range Studios have created another in her series of "Story of Stuff" videos.

This time, her focus in on the tiniest of pesky tiny things:  microbeads.  What on Earth are microbeads, you ask? The technical term is polyethylene microspheres, but you know them as the little plastic grit in lotions, face cleansers, exfoliants, makeup, toothpaste, and more.  And, much like the other "Story of's..." we learn they were purposely made to go away and be thrown away. Watch here:

After watching "The Story of Microbeads," you can take it a step further and take action to "ban the bead" with the help of their informational website by learning more there, and also by sending (or modifying) their templated letter to your Senator.

For more "Story of'..." videos, be sure to check out all of these:

The Story of Stuff (Dec 2007)
The Story of Change (July 2012)
The Story of Solutions (Oct. 2013)

The "Story of Stuff:  Microbeads" video is from; The penny/microbead pic is from (another great article, in and of itself!)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

PBS's Loop Scoops & the Sphinx Tackle Garbage

It's been around the block awhile now, but PBS's "Loop Scoops" are a series of shorts that are designed to help you think about all of your "stuff" and how it affects both you AND the environment.  Perhaps it's not a surprise that "Story of Stuff" creator Annie Leonard is the Content Director.  She definitely has opinions on "stuff."

Here, the Loop Scoops & the Sphinx tackle "Garbage:"

For some other great kid-friendly, eco-friendly & insightful websites, check out the Loop Scoops resources.

Video from:;  Loop Scoops banner from (where you can find links to many other great, thought-provoking videos about the "stuff" in your life!