Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Cows to the Climate Rescue

Cows have frequently gotten a bad wrap when it comes to the environment because they are well-known as methane producers. (Methane is 100 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gases are responsible for trapping heat in the atmosphere, causing ultimate rises in temperature, which contributes to climate change).

In classic philosophical logic, we could say the following is true:

cows are gassy animals 
bovine gastrointestinal distress causes methane
methane leads to raised greenhouse gas
higher greenhouse gasses lead to climate change

therefore: cows → climate change

What if the inverse was true:

If we could eliminate cows having gastrointestinal distress
we could diminish methane
we could diminish greenhouse gases
we could lower our risk of growing climate change!!

There seems to a way we in fact can do that. Dried seaweed seems to be the this cow problem and a couple others! Cheers once again to science and innovation!

Video from; graph from; cow meme from

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Have a #DeviceFreeDinner This Thanksgiving

Common Sense Media is the king of all things kid-friendly and tech-healthy!

Make your Thanksgiving Season one that's balance, safe, & tech-free by taking a pledge and making a commitment to going device free while feasting!

For some more festive and fun plans for your holiday season, check out the following links:

Image created using;

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Greatest Pumpkin Revisited

I love STEM/Design challenges, because you never know what you are going to get as they are so dependent on the individuals creating them. No two outcomes are ever the same.

Right before Halloween this year, I put duos to work facing the “Great Pumpkin” Design Challenge." The goal of this challeng: to create a transport system made of Legos to carry a mini pumpkin to the center of town, as led by their Playmobile guy. The designs were fabulous.

It is with activities such as these where you see curiosity, perseverance, thinking, engagement, and excitement all at play.

These are the elements that makes teaching elementary school one of the best jobs out there!

Photos from my students' cameras as recorded in their Seesaw digital portfolios; the designs are theirs as well!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Cup Monster Cometh

What is that eerie and looming creature over there? 
Is the Demogorgon or Shadow Monster from "Stranger Things?"
A meta-human from "The Flash?" The The Loch Ness Monster, perhaps? 

Some might call it even worse.  It's the Cup Monster!!

(Insert scary music here!)

In October, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson (as he was kicking off the 2017 GeekWire Summit in Seattle) was greeted with "Grounds"... the "Cup Monster" pictured above.  Created by the Bellingham, Washington group, Grounds was meant to be a major statement in his looming and eerie-ness.

Made of 500 used Starbucks coffee cups and sporting bloodshot eyes, Grounds was meant to pressure Starbucks to move to "100 percent recycled or tree-free cups."  This campaign (also known as the "Better Cup" campaign) stems from the 2008 Starbucks promise that by 2015 it would go to 100% recyclables or even reusable mugs. But here in 2017, we're not there yet. In fact,  The Better Cup Campaign claims that 1.5 million trees (in the form of 8000+ cups) are still being sacrificed and trashed for cups. The added problem is the plastic coating on the inside of the cup, which helps keep that coffee nice and piping hot, but makes it less likely to be recyclable in some areas.

If this is a campaign you support, you can show that by going to the Better Cup website and sign the petition to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson.

Starbucks cup & "We Call on Starbucks to:" images are screenshots from; Cup Monster pic from

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Honoring Our Veterans 2017

This week I’ve been doing a lot of compiling & editing videos created by our 5th Graders for our Veterans Day Assembly at school on Monday. In the videos, 5th Graders are interviewing a Veteran: their uncle, grandpa, dad, mom, or friend of the family.

In watching these & hearing the experiences & memories of so many our Military men and women...and in watching the interactions between the youngsters and their elders, this year’s Veterans Day is particularly meaningful and heartfelt! Thank you to all who have served on our behalf! 

For more on my thoughts on Veterans Day, go to my 2015 post.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

41 Green Ways to Save Some Green $$

We've all heard the phrase, "Put your money where your mouth is."

Unless you are made of unlimited funds, saving money is one thing we all tend to talk about. This list helps to not only save a bit of green cashola, but it also helps show some green environmental actions as well. (Plus, when it comes to the food options, a lot are definitely healthier alternatives!)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Bee's Wrap: Sustainable Food Storage

The buzzzz is all around...there's a new kind of food storage in town. It's from Bee's Wrap, a company created by Sarah Kaeck in 2012. And indeed, these new eco food wraps are made from organic cotton infused with beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. It could be a game changer for plastic wrap as it can be washed, reused, and composted--3 things plastic wrap cannot be!

If that's not "the bee's knees," I'm not sure what is! These two videos give you an even closer look to the magic of Bee's Wrap.


For a more indepth story about how Bee's Wrap started, check out Sarah's video from her "About Us" page... then check out her website and consider doing some shopping!

Bee's Wrap® - Our Story from Sarah on Vimeo.

Video #1 from; Video #2 from; logo from; other image from

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Tackling Ocean Conservation, One Comic Strip at a Time

I was a product of the 80s, which means I was a child in the 70s. The shark soundtrack of “Jaws” still brings me back to that 1975 movie, raising the hairs on my skin to prickle level. It made for 7 years of adult living in Tampa and Clearwater (or trips to Ocean City, Maryland or any Caribbean vacation) ones where I was scanning the shoreline on beach days, looking for dorsal fins, and hearing that “Jaws” music in my mind.

I’ve never seen one. 
But the music continues in my mind in certain circumstances.

I had a degree of that music serenading me on my drive to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Edgewater, MD. The reason for my Tuesday night trek… I was off to see Jim Toomey, cartoonist, conservationalist, and creator of Sherman the Shark (from his “Sherman’s Lagoon”) speak at SERC. This struck a particular thrill in me as I’ve written about Toomey before

During his humor-filled evening of frank conversation on cartooning and caring for our planet, he shared with us some of the regulars that are a part of “Sherman’s Lagoon,” the cartoon strip he’s been writing since 1997:
  • Sherman, of course. A shark who is “not quite well-adapted to the real world…. The Lucy of “The Lucile Ball Show” or “Homer Simpson with fins.”)
  • Sherman’s wife Megan. Again, a shark who is “very no-nonsense… the Desi of Desi and Lucy. The one who brings everyone back down to earth.”
  • Hawthorne, the crab. “Always cranky and complaining… I think a lot of people can relate to someone like that.”
  • Filmore, the sea turtle. “He’s the philosopher” and part of the comedic pairing as “the straight guy” to Sherman’s more dramatic side.

While “Sherman’s Lagoon” takes place in the ocean, Sherman does travel to other habits, and has been to the Chesapeake bay a few times. Here in the Chesapeake Bay area, the big issues tend to be “agricultural runoff, loss of coastal habitat, and invasive species.”

Some of the more global marine issues he mentioned he’s tackled in his 20-year stint of comic strip writing with a message include:

--More mindful choices when it comes to menu items (addressing demand and the ultimate oceanic cost);
--Shark-finning (one of his more heavy and difficult topics to cover);
--Ocean acidification of coral;
--Animal tagging;
--Climate change;
--Tracking a plastic bottle to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Toomey mentioned he felt we were in a “sweet spot in time.” With that comes optimism. He feels that there is a meeting of the technology, the data and the ability to go forward to teach and take action. Additionally, scientific facts stay measurable and hard to argue against. He sees us now as the first generation (especially with rate of technological change) who will be able to go forward now and into the next decade from now to be able to gather and make sense of all sorts of scientific data. With the media as it is—meaning we ARE the media during these social media days--we all are more able to talk to the power than in the past. That means we can share the message, and do something about it. This role of citizen scientists (and activists) aligns itself very closely to SERC’s main mission. 

He quoted Dana Meadows: 
“We have exactly enough time starting now.”

While he purposely mentioned he was not going to get political (because all roads these days do seem to end up there), he feels that we need to help people see that the vision of environmentalism is not just “old hippies.” We need to take note of our former environmental (and Republican) president Teddy Roosevelt is the one who began our National Park Service. It’s the poets and the painters out there who have always held an appreciation of nature. To really have your #eco message heard in this noisy world these days, you need to make it so that everyone has a stake. It shouldn’t be a “Left thing” or a “Right thing,” but something we all bring to the center, highlighting the importance to ourselves, our children, and our future. “Environentalism is really all about preserving things for future generations. It’s about sustainability, it’s about the precautionary principle, sustainable business—these are values I think both the left and the right can embrace.”

Getting everyone to the center can be a tricky thing to do, but that’s where Toomey is in the “sweet spot…” as humor has an amazing way of doing just that!

To see Jim Toomey in action…

Find his comics in books & newspapers
Quoted remarks either mentioned directly by Jim Toomey or from the informational sheet written by Kristen Minogue, given out that night at SERC: Tuesday, October, 17, 2017. Cartoon from the same informational sheet.  Photographs from my night at SERC. Jaws Movie Poster  "Sherman Lagoon" pic from Jim Toomey pic with cartoon characters from