Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Oil Spill STEM Challenge

There's no such thing as a "good" oil spill.

Having just watched the movie Deepwater Horizon myself, it's a powerful and messy environmental situation, that can create great harm to wildlife and humans both.

Hence the great environmental concerns over the Dakota Access Pipeline (as well as all of the other political & environmental concerns from this week).

Deepwater Horizon and the nightly news & controversy about #NODAPL aren't the subjects of 3rd grade classrooms. But a STEM challenge on the subject of oils spills is quite informative and can lead to some amazing insight for kids.

That's just what our 3rd grade team did. With a little help from online resources such as this Earth Day Oil Spill activity from, third graders got the opportunity to simulate a captured oil spill, then run feathers through them to see what birds face when they encounter an oily pollution problem. Can they come up with a solution to help clean the birds up?

After hands-on experimentation, our students got their creativity spinning & began brainstorming stories where sea creatures got ensnared in a slippery situation of their own, covered in oil. After using the writing process to plan their individual stories and write their drafts, students then made it into a "read-to-me" eBook that they illustrated, narrated, and recorded on the iPad app My Story.

The multiple levels and learning styles used in this whole activity, from STEM-start to digital-finish, really brought home the meaning of how humans can both negatively AND positively affect the environment. It is through activities like these, especially in a community that borders the Chesapeake Bay and has open waters nearby, that young stewards of the environment are born.

Oil spill covered bird from; My Story logo from; all other images created on my iPad using the My Story app.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

#EarthHour 2017, Recap

This was the view at my house, from 8:30--9:30 last night, during Earth Hour.

We had a few friends and family members over... along with pizza, adult beverages, a backyard bonfire, mood lighting, an in-the-dark soccer game with my two kids and the dog, and merriment for all. I was proud to have celebrated every year since 2009 when I first learned of it.

World-wide, here's what it looked like:

And here's what the last 10 years have looked like. Happy 10th Anniversary, Earth Hour. It was celebrated at my house, and across the world. Glad I could be a part of something bigger than myself, and I feel like I'm raising a glass to our planet in an important way! It feels like now, more than ever, we need to take part and do our part. I'm so glad we did in my world for the 9th consecutive year, and I will do so again, next year: Saturday, March 24, 2018, from 8:30--9:30 pm!

Image from my camera (collage created using Li-Pix), infographic from, video from

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Earth Hour 2017: Tonight No Lights from 8:30--9:30 pm

Tonight is the night. The night of no lights from 8:30--9:30pm. Why? It's Earth Hour! In case you missed it, check out last week's post to learn more and get some good ideas on what you can do tonight to shed some light the #ChangeClimateChange.

The video below will help serve as a little inspiration as to why caring for our environment, believing in climate change, and fighting for the EPA is important, despite what American leaders these days may be saying.

Go forth in darkness tonight, and be a part of something bigger than yourself.  It's a great way to give a giant hug to our planet!  Can we break last year's record breaking participation of 178 countries & territories (including the International Space Station) that participated?


Earth Hour images from; Video from

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Reinventing Trash & Finding Beauty

In The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard talks about how we, as a planet, have an excess of...well...stuff. Whether it's bangles, clothing, shoes, kitchen gadgets, electronics, or any other "must have," we have become a materialistic society that wants
more, more, more!

So we spend our hard-earned money on it, we get it, we stock-pile it, and eventually we trash it... And the landfill grows.

But here are 5 short AJ+ videos of ways people around the planet are reinventing trash & what they do with it. All 5 are examples of innovation and ways to make trash recyclable, reusable, approachable, re-inventable, and a newly usable resource. From art to music to inventions, each of these examples illustrate how we can find beauty outside the landfill with something we might easily have just thrown away.

Reinventing Trash image created on
Story of Stuff image from;
Videos from:
1. Bolivian Wall-E:
2. Haitian Teens:
3. Taiwain's Musical Solution:
4. She Turns Trash To Art:
5. Wearable E-Waste:

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Lights Out for Earth Hour 2017

Writing about & planning my own personal Earth Hour is an annual tradition since 2009.  With it being only a week away, it's time to ring that traditional bell!

This year's Earth Hour is Saturday, March 25th from 8:30--9:30 pm in your time zone. It marks the 10 (or really, would that be 11?) year anniversary since the first Earth Hour in 2007, celebrated in Sydney, Australia alone. From there it has grown, to become a global event, a virtual crowd-wave of diminished lights to show the number of people, communities, nations, and world landmarks that want to "shine a light on climate action" by going dark from that hour in their own time zones.

To learn more about Earth Hour, check out their website to zoom into these specifics to be "enlightened!"
If you are looking for unique ways to celebrate Earth Hour in a way that speaks to you, check out these two resources:
However you celebrate it, I'd love to hear about how you took action and were part of the movement to #ChangeClimateChange. Please share your plans in the comments below!

Earth Hour images from; Video #1 from

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Green Your Routine... With Green Tea

I am not, nor have I ever been,
a warm beverage drinker.

I tried to get into lattes during Starbuck's early days. Nope, couldn't do it. Coffee just wasn't for me.

Tea? Nada. Not even in the cutest of mugs or tea cups.

Hot chocolate? No way. Not even when freezing at a Girl Scout Yule Log event, eons ago.

Give me a Diet Coke every time. That's my caffeine-infusion of choice.

But this week I've made a change. Maybe it was in my perpetual quest to savor in health information from podcasts such as The Model Health Show, maybe it's because it's the "season of green" with St. Patrick's Day around the corner, or maybe it's that knowledge that a few of my routines these days need a health intervention poke and a prod. Whatever the inspiration, I grabbed a box of green tea the other day at the drug store... and I've been drinking it ever since.  It's been my morning starter, my midday pick me up, and it's helped boost my water intake.

The biggest awe factor the other day was when I was at school, lunchtime arrived, and it hit me I hadn't even had a Diet Coke yet that day! My family was equally in shock and awe when I shared the news.

I will say too, my energy level has been amazing. It's not even the caffeine. According to the Caffeine Informer website (a total portal on the caffeine numbers in just about every drink ever invented), green tea comes in significantly lower than coffee, and about half that of my daily does of Diet Coke. Maybe it comes back to the water... and probably also to the fact that it's not a soda can full of chemicals!

Perhaps you, like me, have been living under the clover leaves of cluelessness and are wondering what's up with green tea & all it's health benefits. These two infographics sum it up well.  Likewise, if you need more, this articles shares 21 health benefits & reasons to start your day with green tea. Cheers & happy sipping during this season of green!
Happy St. Patrick's Day ahead!

Images from: medium=androidBrowser&utm_term=Ayurveda&utm_content=HealthBytes&utm_campaign=Curejoy; Happy St. Patrick's Day image made using Ripl.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Garbology Revisited

Garbage isn't sexy, but you certainly can learn a lot from it.

One go-to place for students to learn is My Garbology. The website opens with a clickable kid-sized quiz filled with an assortment of animated fun facts. Along the way, you need to sort out where the banana, the plastic bottle, and more should be deposited: compost, reuse, recycle, or landfill. Many of those facts and figures you click upon are startling in their statistics. Definitely good food for thought, and you will encounter a challenge or two along the way. There are also links to parents, students, and teachers, as well as many other resources on their site.

Another place to take notice of our over-consumption & garbage is the arts. Namely, the photography of Gregg Segal.  In his bio, Gregg details how he was taking pictures of his neighbor's garbage with his new camera at the age of 11. Early on, he had a vision of how garbage had an artistic quality about it. At the very least, he knew photography could capture a story worth telling, revealing volumes about our cultural values and beliefs. His work has been featured in many well-known publications

Some of his garbage/over-consumption series include:

7 Days of Garbage
Essential questions such as "where does the garbage go?" and "What happens when that space is maxed out?" were driving forces that led to this series of Gregg's. Especially when you consider that Joe "Average" American can self-generate approximately 29 pounds of garbage a week. Photographing this personalizes it and definitely brings the problem home. This series also brings home the idea that companies need to figure out a way to help with the excessiveness and build in their own circular construct of recycling to help the product go "cradle to grave"--from creation to safe and proper disposal.

The vision behind this series is to highlight "a world drowning in excess." Detritus is seen as an iconic embodiment of our role as wasteful over-consumers. That "more, more, more" mentality. From Segal's description on this series: "Wandering the Earth, no place left for him in landfills, this dustbin refugee exudes pathos and regret, a vibrant reminder of our willful abuse of the planet."

This series came out of his investigation of garbage. He started paying attention to both the food we were eating, and that which we were throwing away. Especially kids. Using food journals, he replicated the diets of kids, with some startling results. Makes you ponder as a parent what eating habits we are helping our kids build (and the associated health costs that processed foods lead to.)

To investigate some of his other thought-provoking series, check out his website!

Garbology definition from a google websearch; "My Garbology" image from; Greg Segal's images from his website:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Vicki Davis' Philosophy: "Innovate Like A Turtle"

Vicki Davis is the CoolCatTeacher. As an #edtech teacher myself, Vicki Davis is one of my top 5 go-to resources. She has a blog she maintains, as well as a YouTube channel, two podcasts, and is active on social media. Oh, yeah, and she's a full time teacher! She is the virtual queen of virtually everything for the classroom, talking about everything from technology to stress management.

Vicki's philosophy to "innovate like a turtle." What that means is she makes sure to do a little bit every day (or at least every other day) in order to keep propelling herself forward.

If you are looking to sharpen your sword, build in more classroom teaching techniques (especially of the #edtech variety), and "innovate like a turtle," here are some amazing resources of Vicki Davis' to dive into:
To learn more about Vicki Davis, click here to read her bio.

Images from; quote slide from

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Bill Nye is Coming Back to a Netflix Near You!

Bill Nye & Netflix are just about to become the newest, modern day Reese's Peanut Butter Cup: 2 great tastes that taste great together.

And what a better day for it to happen but Earth Day Eve:  April 21, 2017

Fondly known as "Bill Nye the Science Guy" from his kid-friendly, fact-based science shows of the '90s, Bill Nye is someone people have looked to through the ages on knowing "what's what" when it comes to scientific information.  His new show, "Bill Nye Saves the World" is going to be more talk show with other science experts than his shows from the past. 13 episodes are set to go for debunking science deniers--whether that's climate change or countering everyday "alternative facts" that are popping up as science data from the White House website, as well as EPA & USDA data is getting buried in the new presidential administration.

Netflix & Nye are quoted as saying: “Each episode will tackle a topic from a scientific point of view, dispelling myths, and refuting anti-scientific claims that may be espoused by politicians, religious leaders or titans of industry.”

Yet given all of that, the show was in the creative works prior to the final 2016 election, and plans to be more factual than political... it just so happens that 2017 happens to be the year of "alternative facts" and "fake news."  Here are two videos giving you sneak peaks into the new Netflix world of Bill Nye--one more informative while the other is a true trailer.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My "Model Health Show" Hits DC!

One of my favorite
Scratch that and try again:

My ABSOLUTE favorite podcast out there is The Model Health Show. Shawn Stevenson (author of Sleep Smarter) & his partner in crime and production, Jade Harrell are a complete dynamic duo. It is the perfect match of science, health, humor, and good information for good living. If you don't know it, get there and get there quick, as you'll be wondering what took you so long.

Imagine my delight when I heard they were going to be in DC on Martin Luther King Day, taping a live episode. Oh, no doubt about it. I was sooo gonna be there.

That episode of the podcast (#204) aired this past week.  It was great to relive it on my car radio this week, after being in awe and being there at one of DC's Busboys & Poets cafe & bookshops, a month ago. Insert warm fuzzies here!

I think for me, too, the fact that my visit was on Martin Luther King Day (also known as the "National Day of Service"), during Obama's last few days as President. Additionally, it followed a morning spent with my daughter at our church, helping to set up for the week-long Winter Relief shelter for 30 homeless guests)--in a venue that shouted "peace" and heroic leaders. It was a powerful experience and a heartfelt day all the way around. It was really good to center my brain space in that way, on that day, and here again this past week.

I typically listen by way of podcast, but it's a special treat for me to be able to relive that powerful space and place here, with the video version:

pictures from my camera, poster created using my pics at, and video from