Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Creativity Is...#HourofCode: December 3-9

Creativity Is...

Now that's a good question. What is creativity to you?

Take a minute to jot down five or more answers that crop up. Then watch this, from Hour of Code.

Hour of Code first began in 2013, during Computer Science Education Week. That first week in 2013 was December 9 to December 15. An inspiration from, Hour of Code started as a challenge to teachers, schools, students, and parents alike to take the "Hour of Code Challenge," trying out coding for just an hour. With their programs and tutorials, they showed that anyone could do it!

Try your hand during this year's 2018 Hour of Code week--December 3rd through 9th. Here are a number of options and places to start on their Hour of Code website... where you will find over 200 one-hour tutorials & interactive in one of over 45 languages.  Be a part of this global movement!

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Saturday, November 24, 2018

Our Hearts Go Out To California

California has had a rough year--with the wildfires of the summer, and intensified by the fires here this month. The Mendicino and Carr Fires of July 2018 had previously been named the #1 and #7 worst fires in California of all time by Fire.Ca.Gov. Those were the ones that caused us some concern when we were planning our San Francisco/Silicon Valley trip this past August. (We were fine and well beyond an area of concern, though locals during our trip talked about noticing the diminished air quality even that far away.)

By mid-month November, Northern California's Camp Fire (northeast of San Francisco and Sacramento) had repacked those July statistics, and was now slated as the deadliest and most destructive fire California has faced. The Woolsey Fire, with its proximity to Los Angeles, has made this one it's own deep concern. Both fires are creating poor air quality for the entire area and both major cities. Additionally, smaller fires pepper other areas of California as well.

This video was posted by The Years Project on November 15. Just 3 days later, numbers of people who had perished in the fire nearly doubled, and well over 1,000 people were missing. The video blames heat, drought (and less snow pack), the jet stream on causing this heightened level of fire outbreak in California. Clearly, climate change is at play as reported by climate scientists and California fire experts (despite our president's assessment &/or opinion).

Here during the season of Thanksgiving, may seeing this turmoil in California serve as moment to shift our own personal perspective to see the wealth each one of us has. May it grow gratitude in each one of our hearts. Additionally, now is a wonderful time to give thanks to the many firemen and women and first responders who have been there all month long, doing the hard work.

May it also serve to strengthen scientific facts: we desperately need to embark on a number of innovative ideas to battle climate change to help restore our hurting planet.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

May your season be warm and colorful. 
May your hearts be full of love and laughter.
May your feast be filled with friends and family.
May gratitude fill your soul.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Art created at

Saturday, November 17, 2018

No-Waste Thanksgiving

I don't know about your Thanksgiving traditions, but as for many Americans, I'm nearly certain they center around the food, the feast, the festivities. And usually, lots of lots of all of that. If your house is like mine--typically too much of it!

Typically, across the United States, 40% of all food goes to waste. This stems from super-sized portions at restaurants, expiration dates, over-shopping, and on holidays like Thanksgiving, planning too much for the crew coming to you.

With all of that in mind, here are some tips to go about having a no-waste Thanksgiving (and other feasts and feeding frenzies throughout the year:

FoodTank Resources:
RecycleNation provides 8 ideas on how hone in on your planning to help cut down on too many leftovers. They include:
  • checking your guest list, 
  • turkey shopping for your numbers, 
  • consider going meat free, 
  • watching for dishes that need special ingredients (where the rest then gets wasted), 
  • making stock with the bones or using FindAComposter to repurpose that food waste,
  • sending leftovers home with your guests,
  • getting creative with the leftovers you are left with!
  • using the dishwasher versus handwashing--it's more water efficient!
Hungry Harvest's variation to the theme is also to freeze whatever leftovers you know you aren't going to get to. Additionally, bumping up those veggies always helps! MindBodyGreen and Wild Minimalist, agree, adding in letting natural items inspire your decor (versus anything store-bought or plastic).

Popular Science also included a lot of the ideas above (including finding a composting center) and this per person serving:
  • 1 lb turkey per person
  • Proteins 4-8 oz (1/2 cup to 1 cup)
  • Starches 4-8 oz
  • Vegetables 4-6 oz
However my favorite share of theirs was their link to the Guest-imator tool, a calculator designed to help you plan your Thanksgiving menu. You plug in # eaters (by small, average, and big eaters), amount of leftovers, and the type of menu you want: "Classic Thanksgiving," "Veggie Paradise." and "Smorgasbord" w/a little bit of everything. I'm definitely going to check that one out!

Whatever you plan for this Thanksgiving ahead, may your meal be plentiful, just not overflowing! Think largely while you eat lightly--maybe still a feast for you, but lightening the load on our planet!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Grounds For Change

Breakfast the other day was at our favorite bagel shop. A toasted sesame seed bagel with cream cheese, cucumbers, sprouts, lettuce and tomato is one of my favorite forms of comfort food.

While there, waiting for all the yummy layers to be layered, I noticed some signage for Grounds for Change--their coffee source. I'm not a coffee drinker, but more of a green tea girl these last 18 months (previously a Diet Coke aficionado), so I usually don't pay much attention to coffee. But their mission of sustainability is what hit me first, causing me to do a deeper dive.

The Seattle-born company's notables:
  • Organic 
  • 100% free trade
  • Much of their coffee is shade grown--which creates habitats for the migratory birds.
  • They use 100% renewable energy on all sides of processing, packing, and shipping. Therefore, they are considered "Carbon Free Coffee."
  • They use composting for all organic waste (including coffee filters)--the coffee chaff is given to local farmers to enrich their soil.
  • Packaging is made from 100% recyclable paper
  • Burlap coffee bags are recycled by donating them to local farmers to hold back the weeks and stave off erosion.
  • They donate 1% of their gross annual sales to social/environmental organizations
  • They empower women in the coffee growing communities, many of whom are the ones to the do the lion share of creation.
  • And, they work with local/national organizations to promote positive change and awareness.
That's a lot of good going on. I love when places I love show an outward commitment toward the stewardship of our planet. It made my morning bagel a double win for me!

Video from; Images from and

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Hello Ruby

A good picture book takes you places.

With Hello Ruby, that "place" is within the computer, coding and exploring:
"Meet Ruby―a small girl with a huge imagination, and the determination to solve any puzzle. As Ruby stomps around her world making new friends, including the Wise Snow Leopard, the Friendly Foxes, and the Messy Robots, kids will be introduced to the fundamentals of computational thinking, like how to break big problems into small ones, create step-by-step plans, look for patterns and think outside the box through storytelling. Then, these basic concepts at the core of coding and programming will be reinforced through fun playful exercises and activities that encourage exploration and creativity. In Ruby's world anything is possible if you put your mind to it."
Ruby is a whimsical character that invites readers into coding and computational thinking. She is the main character in the 3 book series "Hello Ruby."
Linda Liukas, Finish author and creator of the Hello Ruby series, programmer, founder of Rails Girls, and CodeAcademy alumni,

Hello Ruby links to inspire educators:

Linda Luikas' website

Linda Luikas TEDResidency Talk: Crawling into Coding

Linda Luikas' TED Talk: The Poetry of Programming

Video from, images from!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Diving into Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree is NOT just for Halloween STEM Activities.

It is an integrated program and a philosophy--one based on the importance of environmental literacy in promoting eco-stewardship. Their avenue: taking the learning outside, "using trees and forests as the window on the world." As any environmental educator will tell you, it is through knowing the world and nature around you that you become connected and committed to conserve it. Project Learning Tree does this through its curriculum, its professional development, and the network of support it offers.

Those are all great ways to fend of #NatureDeficitDisorder!

Take a peak into the minds and hearts of 13 Inspiring Examples of Young Environmentalists. Here, you'll see the following young activists dive in with their heart, for the betterment of their community and our world. Cheers to these environmental youngsters:
  1. Alex Lin: Reducing eWaste
  2. Green Ambassadors in Houston, Texas: Transforming a "Food Desert into a 'Greenbelt'
  3. Destiny Watford: Creating a Solid Waste Incinerator
  4. "Students for Sustainabiliy" Club in Washington State: Realizing Reforestation
  5. Ta’Kaiya Blaney: Singing Activist
  6. Cole Rasenberge: Challenging Fast Food Packaging Industry 
  7. Baltimore High School Students: Transforming a Dumping Site
  8. Olivia Bouler: Fundraiser for Gulf Coast Oil Spill Relief
  9. Livermore, California Middle School Students: Reducing Campus Waste
  10. Jersey City 8th Graders: Driving a Drone to Map Trees
  11. Salt Lake City, Utah High School Students: Converting a Bus to Biofuel
  12. San Lorenzo Valley High School Students in California: Organizing an Environmental Conference.
  13. Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and more: Suing the Government for “their failure to protect the atmosphere and their future.”

For your own deeper dive into the environment via PLT, follow these 13 environmental examples. Here's a list of some other Project Learning Tree resources:

Project Learning Tree's Mission & History

~Curriculum Offerings, by Grade Level
Activities for Families

Downloadable Green School Investigations

Environmental Education Resources

STEM Strategies

Educator Tips

Recommended Reading, by Grade Level

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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Donate a Birthday

My birthday is next week. Not a "big" one, but I'm getting close, only a year away to "a big one."

After listening to one of my favorite podcasts, the Model Health Show, I was inspired. I think this year I'm going to donate my birthday--in 1 of 2 ways.

Shawn Stevenson, my Model Health guy, is always chock-full of great ideas. But I must say, it wasn't Shawn who inspired me to donate my birthday. It was his guest Scott Harrison of Charity: Water on Episode 314: The Surprising Benefits Of Helping Others & The Truth About Thirst.

Not only is Scott's story compelling, but it's also a carries environmental bookends given his family's monoxide poisoning in their new home when he was a boy to his inspiration to create Charity: Water.

Additionally, here are some facts about clean water--and the lack there of:
  • 663 million people worldwide live without access to clean water. (That's almost 1 in 10 people--or twice the population of the US.)
  • Women and girls are impacted the most--they are primarily the ones who walk miles/hours to get clean water, carrying 40 pound canisters of water--sacrificing their education and sometimes even their personal safety.
  • Diseases from dirty water cause more deaths (especially among the young) than all forms of violence--including war.
  • Donations to Charity: Water has funded nearly 30,000 projects--with all public donations going to the projects (versus any kind of internal financial management or salaries.)
  • $30 is enough to provide clean water for one person.

To learn more or get the video below:

• Listen to or watch Shawn Stevenson's podcast with Scott Harrison.

• Check out Charity: Water's website.

• Read Scott Harrison's book Thirst. (100% of the proceeds of the book go to fund Charity: Water projects worldwide).

• Revisit a past GTG post: Water, Water, Charity: Water.

• Donate your birthday or consider a monthly donation via "The Spring."

This is where I'm going to start for my birthday. Let me know if you want to join me.

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