Saturday, April 29, 2017


Here on #ClimateMarch Day... Just a week beyond #EarthDay & the #MarchForScience, this is ever-timely!

The conversation with my 3rd graders in the Maker Lab started like this:  "We've been experimenting with LittleBits for 2 weeks now.  I want you to envision the creator of these. What kind of person do you imagine?"

Answers for both classes were similar:
  • an older guy
  • he's been around a long tme
  • he's really smart
  • he's serious
  • he understands kids
  • maybe a little bit of salt and pepper in his hair
  • he's kind of distingished-looking
  • he looks like he might teach in a college
  • he might be like a scientist or inventor
Then a couple-minutes later into the list, there were these comments:
  • Well, he could be younger, like my brother. My brother is really good at stuff like this.
  • It's probably be a guy... but it could be a girl too. Girls do these things too.
But overwhelmingly, the answers fit the elderly male, professorial avatar, and that is the image most students raised their hands to when placing their final vote of prediction. (Side note: both classes were heavier hit in the female student department.)

Here is the inventor of LittleBits,
during a 2012 TED Talk: 


The conversation with my students, both at the front end (and then the reflection end) was equally rich for both classes. While it was a clear indication that we were all surprised by their first-instinct comparison as related to our predictions versus reality, there ultimately was really no surprise here at all. Girls could do this stuff too Women most certainly could be inventors, scientists, technology leaders, circuitry masters, engineers, and LittleBit Creators. All 4/5 of those STEM/STEAM letters are represented: Science, Technology, Engineering, (Art), Mathematics!

I personally found it startling the default to the male-mental-avatar, here in 2017.

During my mid-March Spring Break, my family and I were meandering around DC's Smithsonian's American History museum. (There, they had a fabulous exhibit on Places of Invention.) In the gift shop, I found two dynamic books from the "Girls in Science" series on this very subject for young upper elementary/middle school students (perfectly timed for the age of girls who tend to step away from science and math):
One of my favorite parts in these approximately 100 page books are the embedded QR codes (tied with photos & info boxes) that link you to places to pursue more research on the historic characters and concepts of the books.

Other books in this dynamic series:
  • Aviation: Cool Women Who Fly
  • Marine Biology: Cool Women Who Dive
  • Forensics: Cool Women Who Investigate
  • Astronomy: Cool Women In Space
For more books about smart, sassy, scientific women, check out "Ignite Her Curiosity: 25 Books Starring Science-Loving Mighty Girls." (I am currently reading the sequel to "Calpurnia Tate," as we speak.)

As educators, I think the timing is ripe to dive in and engage girls to the bounty that is ahead in the STEM & STEAM studies ahead!

People Climate March pic from from ; LittleBits images from and; book images from and; Women in STEM pic from scientist guy clip art from

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Vertical Forests Are On The Rise

As our global population grows and approaches 7.5 billion, cities are becoming more crowded and dense with buildings. The urban sprawl continues outward, and building continue to climb upward, encroaching on our green spaces.

For the most part, cityscapes of our larger cities have traditionally have been a shiny collection steel towers and glass windows. Central Park, that green oasis in New York City, no longer is enough.

Visionary architects like Stefano Boeri want to change that by re-working city models to accommodate for the density of people living in those urban areas--and the pollution that comes with it. By building in a solution for sustainability, Boeri has designed buildings that incorporate nature.

Some examples of vertical forests" include Bosco Verticale in Milan, the La Tour des Cedres in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Nanjing Vertical Forest in China. He's also moving on beyond the ideo of green towers to that of a whole forested city, with drawing set up for ForestCityShijazhuang in China. His portfolio of projects is impressive!

Benefits of bringing the look and feel of nature to the over-populated cities are many:
  • All "the green" will help reduce heating and cooling costs by building in natural shade and insulation.
  • The vegetation of "all that green" will act as a filtration system, both producing oxygen, absorbing carbon-dioxide, and filtering "urban dust" pollution of highly populated cities (especially in China, where pollution levels are so high).
  • Intentionality is put into the plant species that are placed on both the towers and in the cities. Given the variety of plants, the trees and shrubbery will become a bio-diverse habitat for many birds and animals as well.
DISCOVERY CHANNEL VERTICAL FOREST from Stefano Boeri Architetti on Vimeo.

For more on greening up our cityscapes, here are a few other links of impressive green buildings:

City Skyline pic from; Vertical forest pic from; Video from

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day: Make a Difference Today, Continue the Education Tomorrow!

Earth Day 2017, here at last.

On this day we honor our planetary home, of course it begs the question: why not make every day Earth Day?

Some people do live their lives that way, and we've been looking at ways to do that all month long, here at GTG.

Given that, let today be a day you go out there and do something great for Mother Nature around you. It might involve a trash clean up, it might involve restoration of habitats or building new for your neighborhood birds. It might involve planting a tree, going for a hike, celebrating the natural world, turning off lights, conserving water, or dining on an organic meal.

Maybe too, it can include a commitment towards more than just a day. Maybe a habit change. Maybe a pursuit of knowledge and education.  Click the "hot spots" in the Thinklink below to go directly to a myriad of environmentally educational videos to build your knowledge base. (Or click the Thinklink link above!) The more you know, the more you care!

Let me know what you are pursuing this Earth Day. What big or small difference can you make today, tomorrow, or even every day this week/month/year ahead?!

Earth Day Every Day Graphic made using, Thinglink clickable graphic made using and the following images:, 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

There's a New Podcast In Town: Begleyesque

Just in time for Earth Day ahead, there's a new podcast in town. (Actually, at this point, it's not as new as it used to be at the start of 2017!) This one is brought to you by Ed Begley, Jr. and his wife Rachelle Carson-Begley, and is called Begleyesque. Perhaps so we can all "speak-Begley!"

Ed Begly, Jr.'s name might sound slightly familiar to you as he's both a long-time actor (anyone remember St. Elsewhere?) and a mega-environmental activist. He practices what he preaches, living in a solar powered home, driving an electric car, and currently building a LEED Platinum-Certified house for their next home ("Our Green House with The Begleys"). He and Rachelle (also an actor) co-starred in the reality series "Living With Ed," which was shown on both HGTV and Discovery’s Planet Green.

Given all the "green" above, yes, this weekly podcast is about "living green." It's a fun mix of Hollywood celebrities and environmental innovators chatting with Mr. & Mrs. Begley. There's also a Q&A segment per episode, with the gameplan being "saving the planet one person or household at a time."

You can find it on their website, or subscribe at iTunes.

Episodes, to date, include:
  1. Introducing Begleyesque      (a very good place to start!)
  2. Going Green W/Jeff Goldblum
  3. Save Money, Save The Planet
  4. Moby Reveals His Real Name & Talks Veganism
  5. Green Valentine's Day Gift Ideas
  6. Sharon Lawrence Talks Water Pollution & Women Power
  7. Bill Nye Hijacks a Conversation With Frances Fisher
  8. Air Pollution: Causes, Effects, & Solutions
  9. Beth Grant Gets High Off Love
  10. Mike Farrell Talks JFK Assassination
  11. Michael Kaliski, Hollywood's Green Movie Guy
  12. Public Transportation vs. Uber vs. Biking
  13. Don Most Talks “Happy Days” & Vaudeville’s Comeback
  14. Oceana’s Keith Addis On Bait and Switch in Aquaculture
May the eco-inspiration over at Begleyeque get you geared up for Earth Day, just a few days away!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Running On Plastic: Shoe-Speaking, That Is

There is an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic in our world's oceans. The environmental hazards linked to that are far reaching, from damaging marine wildlife to getting into our food sources. It's not a problem that solves itself, so we are lucky to have change-makers among us who are willing to think outside the box to figure out ways to repurpose some of the trash among us.

Adidas is one of the latest in the bunch as it partners with Parley for the Oceans (an amazing organization committed to the health and fragility of oceans--and a great place to go to gain information on marine debris and oceanic activism).  Adidas has a new shoe on the market that is made from oceanic plastic waste, in particular gill nets (vertical nets that trap fish by their... you guessed it... gills).

To learn more about Adidas' new shoes line, watch the videos below or go to Fortress of Solitudes' interview with Adidas & Parley. To learn about their company stance on sustainability, click here.

To learn more about Parley for the Oceans:

videos from and and; shoe image from; "The beginning of the end of plastic"  pic from; sea turtle pic from

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Earth Day Is On Its Way: April 22

Since 1970, Earth Day has been April 22nd. This year, it feels like a little darker and more important event with the EPA on the budgetary slice & dice line, as we live under an administration where Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said, regarding climate change: "I think the president was fairly straightforward on that: We're not spending money on that anymore."

But for those of us who are educators, particularly environmental educators, science data speaks louder than presidents & their budget directors. Which is why perhaps this year, Earth Day education is needed now more than ever.

Going to the source is often the best place to start. Earth Day Network is that place. Working globally with 196 countries, environmental sustainability & protecting the planet for our children's children are the tenets of their mission. You can learn of the history of Earth Day and their "record of successes."

Here is a glorious portal of information & downloadable resources for Earth Day:
Additionally they have a wealth of information on the Campaigns page. Here, they have links to their 6 different themed campaigns: Green Schools, Endangered Species, Reforestation, Green Cities, Campaigns for Communities, and Climate Change. (Or you can go to their "All" link to... well... see them all!)  Each of these themes serves as an umbrella for a bounty of even more specific campaigns. It might be a good place to go find your passion, your tribe, or extra tidbits of specialized information.

And, if you are around DC on Earth Day, there's always the March For Science on the National Mall. I was there for the Women's March. DC is a powerful place to be part of something so big. The march is geared to start at 8 am with rallies and teach-ins beginning at 10 am with a multitude of speakers. For more specific information, click here to go directly to the March of Science website.

For those not near DC, you can still take part! You can find one of the nearly 400 satellite marches in the US or across the globe.

As stated from the Earth Day Network website:
"Science serves all of us. It protects our air and water, preserves our planet, saves lives with medical treatments, creates new industries, puts food on our tables, educates the next generation, and safeguards our future. Science isn’t Democratic or Republican, liberal or conservative. Indeed, threats to science are pervasive throughout governments around the world."
Science is not partisan. Nor are facts. This Earth Day, let's go out there as educators and inform both our students and ourselves. Let's go out there as citizens and do something good for the planet. I'd love to hear about your plans and your actions.

Banner image screenshot & logo from, Neil DeGrasse photo from; Women's March photo from my camera.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Story of Stuff: 10 Years of #Eco-Education

Back in 2007, Annie Leonard was fed up with "STUFF" and decided enough is enough with "enough!" She released the original animated documentary called "The Story of Stuff," which has lead her now on a decade-long adventure of activism through "The Story of Stuff Project."

Annie & her "Say No to Stuff" mantra has been a frequent focus here at GTG.

Her latest environmental education mini-movie was released last month... 'round about the same time our new head of the EPA was denying climate change and our human-planetary impact.  Her latest is "The Story of Microfibers" and it will change the way you look at clothing, laundry, and how it affects marine life and our water supply.

In addition to her many movies, there's a plethora of environmental-awareness resources.  Check out her bounty with the links below. They are kid-friendly and perfect for Earth Day ahead as you inspire your young stewards to be community-minded, solutions-focused, and action-oriented--just like Annie's S-O-S Team!

Image from; video from

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Wisdom comes in many forms and from many places.

In this case, wisdom comes from a 5-year old fellow who is upset about what the current state of the environment. As much as it breaks your heart to see him at the height of emotion, it also serves to give you hope that we have these sweet souls on the planet--not to mention inspiration for Earth Day ahead (April 22nd).

"Henry the Emotional Environmentalist" apparently has his own Facebook page. You can follow Henry and see where his passion will take both him and the planet here at this link.


Image from from

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Lifelong, Lasting Products Only: Sold Here

We've all had them... the favorite sweatshirt (mine was my dad's, stolen years ago, threadbare now), the favorite pillow, the favorite... whatever! We want it to last forever, and alak, alas, it just never happens. Like my sweatshirt, they become tattered, the paint might chip off the seasoned pan, or something happens that makes it just... not... last.

Well, it is with that premise that Tara Button founded "Buy Me Once."  Her philosophy:  "Let's throw away our throwaway culture." In doing so, we're helping ourselves, our wallet, our planet!

Here's Tara, telling a little bit more about her philosophy of finding and vetting long-lasting items to help our planet's sustainability... and keep our "stuff" out of the landfill!

BuyMeOnce has links to take you to their shopping site (and a boatload of brands built for longevity), articles, design challenges (for items to "stand the test of time" & challenging manufacturers to "do better"), gifts, and more.

She also invites you to email her brands that you feel should be on her site!

The articles and tips section has some great posts on throwing parties without bags-full of trash afterwards and more fun things too.  My favorite: "10 Books to Read for A Better You & A Better Planet."

Video from; Logo from, and image from