Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Steve Trash! To The Rescue!!

Ahhh... to be known as a "rockin' eco hero," a comedian, and a magician. It might just be the trifecta.

Steve Trash holds this triangular title, and has been in action since 1984 spreading the message of recycling, sustainability, and being an environmental steward.



He's taken his show on the road just about everywhere: North America, Europe, Asia, multiple news channels, PBS, and issue of Weekly Reader, and more. He's got a YouTube channel with well over 250 videos. He has 2 albums and music videos along with his Trash TV series and more. He has a blog he's maintained since 2008.  He even has a bank of solar panels in his front yard. He's all in, and all about ecology, science, STEM-STEAM, and even some videos on character development like manners, bullying, taking responsibility, empathy, being a good friend, digital literacy, and more.

He's everything you'd want an environmental educator to be! Definitely check out the plethora of resources he has on his website and YouTube channel when you are wanting to bring a little zip to your classroom eco unit!

Video from https://youtu.be/LMypY08YWqA, photo from http://www.stevetrash.com/bio

Saturday, October 26, 2019

#SaveQuiet


As the recent host of a slumber party with seven 14 year old boys in my house, I know loud. These were perhaps some of the loudest people in America (or so it seemed on that Saturday night). But they were having clean, wholesome fun so how bad can that be.

Just as "loud" has a place in our world, so does "quiet." More often than not, though, quiet is quite the commodity. Background noises such as binge-watched television, show streaming, or catching a half-dozen Youtube videos is what more and more of us are gravitating toward in our free time. Or music--often with headphones (that would be my two teens at home--though back in the day a generation or so ago, it was loud music blasted from the stereo). Even social media these days is more often in video versus visual form with snaps, Insta-stories, or other videos. When my students get overly chatty at school, I discuss how we need to cut back on the "noise pollution," and we have enough pollution as it is!

As mindfulness is on the rise, so too is the move to #SaveQuiet. This is a hashtag started by Quiet Parks International. From their "About" page, looks like I might be onto something with this "noise pollution" thing. Much like animals, "quiet" is becoming an endangered species. With air zones overhead, highways near by, city sounds surrounding, noise is everywhere. A startling statistic from this page: "90% of children will not experience natural quiet during their lifetime." Yikes! That makes my ears hurt just writing this!

Even more startling from their page is the effect of noise on our health. It can lead to "cardiovascular disease, hypertension, sleep disturbance, annoyance, cognitive impairment, hearing impairment and tinnitus, and reduces quality of life, well being and mental health."

Like I said, sounds an awful lot like mindfulness, where the benefits are equally as high.

So Quiet Parks International is on a mission... a mission to quiet things down. They are working to create "a set of classifications, standards, testing methods, and management guidelines for the certification of the world’s pristine and endangered quiet places. Quiet Parks International has established the world’s first Wilderness Quiet Park and developed a list of over 262 potential sites around the globe that should be certified and preserved."

Not only do they certify quiet locations, they also have a list on their websites of the following:
Quiet finds nearby may just be a click away!



Screenshot from https://www.quietparks.org/about; video from https://vimeo.com/328582149, Rumi quote from https://wisdomquotes.com/silence-quotes/


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Pursuing EcoTourism in the Classroom



I co-lead an twice-a-week elective for 4th and 5th graders called "Funtography." It's a combination of photography and digital design. The photography side (run by my colleague) ultimately feeds the yearbook by building digital photography skills. On my digital design side, we talk about all sorts of graphic design elements (like color, typography, and layout). In both halves, there's a lot of opportunity for student exploration and creativity.

This year, we're going with a "going green" theme, which ties to playing with color, and delving into some environmental pursuits including a green screen project. That green screen project will be for my students to make an eco-tourism commercial.

I began by compiling a Wakelet board. Wakelet is a website that allows you to curate everything you want to share with students (or any other group of people). The best part is that with a QR code, link or an embed code, it's one-stop-shopping to all the resources I need for my students to have for the entire project, with the exception of doing their own research. Here's my Eco-Tourism Wakelet board, which details everything from resources to assignment for their green screen activity. I can't wait to see what they come up with!




Videos from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcbzb3uUfpc and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDIfFTs9V1A; Wakelet board from https://wke.lt/w/s/gSA3_c,

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Tree Talk

Communicating conifers? Chatting chestnuts? Talking teaks? Expressive elms? Broadcasting birch trees? You bet!

After writing about Richard Powers' The Overstory, this seemed like the natural next step. One of the characters in Powers' book was deep into the science of how trees communicate with each other. In the book, this character was initially scoffed at by others based on her sentiments--which isn't surprising as it does sound rather odd. Yet there is actual science behind this line of thought.

These two videos from BBC and National Geographic do an excellent job of explaining the conceptual phenomenon of talking trees and the "Wood Wide Web."

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Given the fact that intra-forest communication comes from the tallest, eldest trees, it definitely speaks (pun intended) of making sure we don't take down the oldest trees among us--even if reforesting plans are in place by planting new, younger trees. This, in turn, conveys the importance of maintaining those threes in order to maintain the resiliency and longevity of the forest.

So up until we can understand their language, we're still going to need the Lorax to speak to us for the trees!



Videos from https://www.bbc.com/news/av/science-environment-44643177/how-trees-secretly-talk-to-each-other and https://youtu.be/7kHZ0a_6TxY; Lorax photo from https://i.pinimg.com/originals/eb/02/46/eb0246c50d15813b81cce20ce7f9c3e3.jpg and tree banner from https://louisvilleky.gov/government/jefferson-memorial-forest/contact-us

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Eco Read: "The Overstory" by Richards Powers

I recently read Richard Powers' Pulizer Prize winning book "The Overstory." The title was poignant for multiple reasons--it's terminology refers to a layer of foliage in the trees--a common thread in how the book was divided into sections all based on tree terminology: Roots, Trunk, Crown, Seeds. But more than that was the over-arching story, the "over story" of how trees were vital to each of the 9 main character. Additionally, the trees themselves were one of its greatest characters in the book.

I will say, my favorite character was in fact a tree--the American Chestnut. I enjoyed learning about both its true history and how that tree's history was woven into the fictional life of one of the main characters. As the characters came together, the initial part of the eco-activism storyline reminded me of my own time last summer in California's redwood forest and of Julia Butterfly Hill. An added piece of connection--I read much of the 500-page tome outside, under the trees of my own backyard.

These two book reviews and Richard Powers' website are great places to learn more.




Saturday, October 12, 2019

#DigCitCommit

Digital Citizenship Week, mid-October, has been an annual "event" for the last several years. This year, it falls October 14-18.

Of course, some argue that in today's day and age, is it "digital citizenship" or just plain "citizenship" as the only difference is the device. As parents and educators, we want to be encouraging our kids to be good people out in the world no matter what--both online and off. And, in a world where sometimes this is lacking, the importance is stronger than ever before.

#DigCitCommit is a partnership between 17 major technology and edtech companies urging all to commit to digital citizenship. Their focus is on 5 major strands that encourage all (students and adults alike) to be inclusive, informed, engaged, balanced, and alert. By focusing on these 5 competencies, we build future leaders:

Check out this treasure trove of resources:
Definitely good for parents and educators alike so we can all become responsible & healthy citizens!

#DigCitCommit Partners 
Video from https://youtu.be/15zvAiGeW_E; #DigCitCommit partners pic screenshot from https://digcitcommit.org, THINK image from https://puzzlepeace.ca/event/digital-citizenship-week/2019-10-18/, & the other image from http://ohekidstech.blogspot.com/2014/10/its-digital-citizenship-week-5th.html?m=1

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

3 Decades of Time, On Either Side.

The year now is 2019. The month, October. Meaning we are almost at 2020.

30 years ago, when we do that rounding up, it was nearly 1990.
I was in college.
Yes, I'm showing my age.
30 years from now, it's going to be roughly 2050. By then, hopefully, I'll be really old (because it certainly beats the alternative!)

30 years of difference--3 decades--on either side. Two environmental resources I've run across really nailed that piece home. One was Time Magazine's September 12th issue, which was entirely dedicated to Climate Change: "2050: How Earth Survived." The other was The Years Project Video: "Thirsty World" video, prophesizing on where we'll be if we aren't careful. It's not pretty. Population growth is not going to stop or reverse. In fact, the expected population by 2050 is 9.8 billion (compared to our current 7.7 billion). Yikes!


Circling back to Time Magazine, the symmetrical math mirror of 30 years was even more striking because they went back to their issue 30 years prior where they named "Endangered Earth" as "Planet of the Year" (as opposed to "Man of the Year") due to the environmental crisis that was afoot then. 30 YEARS AGO. (Yes, I felt the need to yell a little bit.) 

Begs the question--why are we still here? They mention a 30-year wake up call/reality check. It is from this vantage point that details why they dedicated this entire issue to climate change (only the fifth time in their 96-year history they've dedicated entire issues to one subject.) I like how they are clear that they are convinced in the unquestioning science backing climate change, and no climate skeptics are featured in the issue.

Featured in the issue is their "Voices" section, where they take some of the climate thought leaders who write their thoughts on the subject. There are too many good ones to list, so click here to click through and read them all. If you only have time for a few, my favorites are Jane Goodall's, Al Gore's, and Gra├ža Machel's.

There's also a great multimedia 3D piece entitled "The Dying Rainforest" narrated by Jane Goodall on the perils the Amazon Rainforest is facing. Add in, articles on the following:
Bottom line--there's a lot here!! All of which is excellent reading. Imagine the world if we all read and absorbed this issue!

3 decades of time on either side. It makes you wonder, where will we all be 30 years down the line in 2050. Hope and optimism are two of my governing traits, so I pray it is NOT where The Years Project projected! May we all follow the lead of so many mentioned here, and the young activists like Greta Thunberg who were leading the way this past September!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Creative Uses for Cardboard

As the Technology Specialist who talks a lot about the Design Process at school--both in and out of our Maker Lab, these images from the Bioconstruccion's Facebook page show some amazing and massive cardboard construction projects. Now granted, these are not small projects, but they might serve as creative inspiration for your students!! Check out the pictures below!






What a super way to repurpose--especially with the glut in the recycling industry where cardboard sometimes does get recycled in some communities. Add in, in today's age of a lot of Amazon.com and other delivery boxes that come right to your door, cardboard as a building material is pretty easy to come by! 

For more inspiration, watch this and check out the following links of ideas & watch this video:


photos from https://www.facebook.com/pg/ColorworldEntertainment/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1185946768234631&__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARBObzaU5MOGmc0ed8iqkyx2JJG0kugIcdSDx4bfiBpsEJQ29HwaKmHBercjCz6S0-g3qqXWrhTwKsJ6fHQVaYK67qX_11hI8uT1Uh-PpEBO9GSN08iRxsi7N63MllmeUgkTCWc2kxhVrFm9BbsHpJqfGnBvY2R7EVjFARljL1ZWRs-2OixtIwBiomTAx-WbJAvcMdl4UIZISbyvumeJpW9T1QrKjF_gl0Wp9ZrFlQ6NMPnsax96mn_vDbFsW3cPB370r4LAPNZLnWbdrTvKwYJDpTH_6sW0lxcIfuwRSwcjK59sXbDLpdqxvHKeaW51qj1mr5s1T59u7LXTeIJgu2HN7uLo&__tn__=-UC-R; video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RGfnBlaHIQ

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Climate Optimism

In the wacky world of today, we all need a li'l bit o'love... and a whole lot of optimism. Like love, I think it makes the world go 'round.

This video "140 Seconds of Optimism" from Climate Optimist follows suit with the sentiments I wrote about earlier in the month in my post "Handling the Emotions of a Rough August," plus it ties with the "Climate Change Solutions Quiz."


To learn more about how to be a Climate Optimist, check out there website. While there...
  • The "Good News" stories--things that are happening world wide to help solve climate change and move the needle forward.
  • Read the Climate Optimist Manifesto. (My favorite line: "Because hope beats fear. It’s the attitude that inspires progress.... And when we succeed this time, we’ll solve more than climate change. Renewable energy means jobs. Solar energy can help free people from poverty. Cutting pollution benefits our health.")
  • Learn ways to take action.
  • See Climate Optimist's Proof Point sources.
  • Discover their other resources.
It can become easy to be fatalistic, hopeless, or fear-filled. but why? Optimism is a much more pro-active, energized, and positive way to go. What can you do to begin to make a difference?

Photo screenshot from https://www.climateoptimist.org/resources/; Video from https://vimeo.com/234337443