Saturday, February 29, 2020

Science App Recommendations from Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree always is rich with resources.

Their article "12 Engaging Science Apps for Middle & High School Students" is right there along the lines of super finds.  Best part about all of these apps: they're free, and all with a focus on climate change, trees, conservation, & weather.

Here's the short list, but be sure to click the link to this article in order to get a brief synopsis of each one!
  1. Carbon Capture
  2. Code Carbon
  3. Earth Now
  4. Global Change
  5. Globe Observer 
  6. Leaf Snap
  7. Offset
  8. Oroeco
  9. Space Science Investigations: Plant Growth
  10. Survive Global Climate Change
  11. Trees Pro
  12. Water Wiz
Plant Snap is an app similar to Leaf Snap which I have used, written about, and recommend as well!

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

GTG: Celebrating 10 Years

A flashback that's burned on my brain:

I was up in the Chicago area at my brother's house for the long weekend, celebrating a family event. My brother and I were hanging out, late, having all sorts of conversations. At one point they turned to my thoughts on writing, as I'd always had a vision of writing the "Great American Novel." To that date, no great novel had been written.*

What had been written over the years were a bounty of freelance lesson and activity plans for Mailbox Magazine and many of their publications (in the late 1990s & early 2000s). More recently to that point, I'd been writing a series of 1-3 page monthly newsletters--also named "Green Team Gazette" that I had been writing for about a year or so with my experience at Maryland Green School Eagle Cove School and my growing environmental connection to Cynergreen, CGKidz, and the Alain L Locke School in New York City's Harlem.

As the conversation with my brother continued, he pushed me to task on writing:
"If you want to be a writer, then write. Write something you know about. Start a blog. Start a manuscript. Start something." 
Being a night owl by nature, I didn't get much sleep that night. Instead, I got on his computer (as we were living in a land and in a time prior to my own laptop) and got in the creative flow. I had that level of stomach energy that buzzes when you're both nervous and excited and in the middle of designing something new. I worked on building my vision while combining colors schemes and thematic fonts, and I wrote that first blog post. I paused before making it live, wondering if I was ready to put it out there. I pushed the button. I put it out there.

Friday, February 26th, 2010 the online version of Green Team Gazette was born.

This past fall social media had a rash of "10 year challenges" with photos and more. I didn't feel the need to post any of that given I was was already in the year of milestones (a 50th birthday and a 20th wedding anniversary). This too is a milestone. Ten years! I'm thankful to my brother for pushing me to build something that has blossomed over the years and I'm proud of where GTG has grown through ten years of iterations. What started out strictly as an environmental education blog has morphed into including educational technology and innovation, and over that 10 years I've come to see that the 3 definitely go hand in hand.

At times, I've wondered if it's time to stop writing and close down shop. But, the gravitational pull is too strong. I'm pulled to environmental issues, edtech trends, and the inspiration of innovation... and the teacher and writer in me keeps writing and sharing. It's become a part of who I am, and I can't let go of both the creative outlet and the need to share wealth of information that's out there. It's based in a hopeful future for our children by spreading the education and info along the way. May this be a little legacy that helps to make the world a better place for our children and everyone who shares this planet with us.

May we all have our own legacy out there. May we all be pebbles we throw out into the water, knowing not where our influence ends.

*Note about my Great American Novel: There is a minor exception. It's a very teen, very G-Rated, very formulaic romance novel written back in the late '80s when I was a teen (and reading formulaic teen romances), typed out on my mom's old manual typewriter. I have no idea where that literary giant even is any more--probably some box in my mom's attic or my own garage! May be worth digging around for it, for entertainment-sake alone!)

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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Foodprints for the Future

April 22nd is exactly 2 months down the road. For those of us who are more fans of spring weather than the winter chill, this is beyond exciting. However, for those of us who are environmentalists, we know that April 22nd marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, where the real excitement lies!

To get us in the mood for that, Earth Day Network has created this "Foodprints for the Future." We all know what a "footprint" is, but what's a "foodprint?" From their website:
"A foodprint measures the environmental impacts associated with the growing, producing, transporting, and storing of our food— from the natural resources consumed to the pollution produced to the greenhouse gases emitted."
To learn more about footprints and the merits and health benefits of a plant-based diet, check out the mini movie Earth Day Network created. It does a great job of doing some myth busting about moving to a more plant-based diet...and may inspire you to throw in a few more meatless meals into your meal planning!
To learn more, check out Earth Day Network's "Foodprints for the Future" website. You can also learn more about our food impact (including food waste), their projects, and tips on what you can do.
 Don't forget to check out their wealth of resources (including infographics, articles, and calculators).

Video from ; Images from and

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sailing Seas of Plastic

There's a new data visualization interactive map/website in town: Sailing Seas of Plastic. It was created by Dumpark, a New Zealand based agency who has done other environmental graphics as well. 5 GyresMapbox, and Natural Earth were also involved in the project.

In the visualization, you can investigate data to see how much plastic is currently floating in the ocean. The data was compiled from 24 expeditions over the course of 2007 to 2013. The estimated amount:  268,000 tonnes....or 590,838,863 pounds. Considering how light plastic is, that's a lot of plastic. On the map, each dot represents 20 kilograms of plastic (44 pounds). In plotting the map of estimated marine debris, 13 million dots are here on the map... the result of 5 trillion plastic pieces in the world's oceans.

These numbers are so mammoth, they barely feel real.

A wealth of information is available on this website by clicking the "Learn More" link in the bottom left hand corner of the interactive map. Be sure to check it out!

After investigating the map, you might be inspired to rethink the plastic wrap, ziplock bags, or other unnecessary plastic. Even better, you might be inspired to do a little beach or woods clean up.

Screenshot of the interactive map taken from their website:

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Linking Nature, People, & Mindfulness

I spent last weekend in my happy place--soaking up loads of goodies at the 35th annual Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education Conference. 2 days of eco-goodies and loads of learning makes for a happy me. Thinking back in time, this is probably my 6th time attending over the course of the last 15 or so years. My typical partners in crime weren't with me, so it was a solo venture, which tied well to its theme: "Exploring Connections: Linking Nature, People, and Mindfulness." I got some quality, necessary time to myself this weekend as well.

My workshops over the two days filled a notebook of notes and included over 8 workshops and keynotes along with loads of conversation. The only problem with an event like this is that there are too few hours in the schedule as too many of the workshops are all stacked at the same time. Some of my big take-aways were:
  • From the "Nature Rocks: Health Benefits of the Outdoors" workshop (presented by Dr. Stacy Beller Stryer and Melanie Parker), it reiterated all of the good stuff that being outdoors brings.  
    • Nature lowers:
      • anxiety & depression
      • cortisol levels and stress
      • blood pressure
      • risk of type 2 diabetes
      • behavior issues
      • even mortality!
    • It improves:
      • resilience, sense of well being, rejuvenation
      • physical activity and BMI
      • concentration and attentiveness
      • creativity
      • enjoyment
      • academic performance and test scores
      • socialization & cooperation
  • From Coreen Weilmeister (from the Education Coordinator at Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve) talk on "The Future Needs Creativity," it reiterated my sentiment that innovation is what we need to solve our environmental issues!
  • Kids (and adults) have a lack of connection to themselves and their environments, which can create a sense of apathy toward communities. When we are connected to neighborhoods, we're better connected to the world. Nature and mindfulness can lead you there, strengthening empathy.
  • Nature is the antidote to both ours and our kids' technology "over-connection" (where the average kid spends 6 hours on devices! They should be out in nature double their tech time!)
  • Play is essential to learning and making things stick--you can certainly take things outdoors! 
  • The same is true with music. Two sessions were on music (I only attended one) and it reminded me of all my past musical, educational, and environmental experiences with Linda Richards.
  • Sometimes bringing the tech outdoors is a great way to involve young students in documenting their surroundings.
  • Even in urban environments, there are opportunities to unite nature (even if it's in your own classroom) and mindfulness.

Some of the things I definitely want to check into even more--who knows, these might all make for future posts here at GTG!
Even in writing just this and taking the time to reflect on all of this, I can see I still need to sit with my notes, soaking it up more. It has left me craving for more. A good conference can do that to you!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day conjures images in tones of pink and red... not typically green. Green is typically more reserved for next month when Irish brogues come dancing off everyone's tongues.

But that doesn't mean you can't have an eco-friendly, heart-filled day.  Here are some thoughts to get you thinking of green ways to share the day with your loved ones.

All You Need for Valentine’s Day in 10 Infographics
From Natalija Snapkauskaite's 1/28/2014 post on Piktochart's Blog:
This article is made for all of us who are extraordinarily visual and love graphic data. You'll find infographics on the history of the day, where the Valentine dollars are going, worldwide traditions, typical social media personals, ways to say "I love you" in a multitude of languages and more.

Have A Green Valentine's Day!
From Mary Kate Ranii's 2/2/2017 Pennyslvania's Resource Council post:
Here you'll find some green gifts, dining, and ambiance ideas... who doesn't love the gift of an experience (where the memory will last a lifetime) or heart-shaped homemade cookies?!

14 Ways To Go Green This Valentine's Day
From Margaret Badore's 2/12/2014 post on Treehugger:
More good ideas (14 in fact) on ways to reduce waste and save money along the way with your loved ones. My favorite: #14 and giving the give of doing something to help someone out!

25 Ways to Set an Earth-Loving Mood This Valentine’s Day
From Katie O'Reilly's 2/12/2019 post in the Sierra Club Magazine:
This article is more for the gift-giver out there who'd like to find something special from a quality brand that places high value on sustainability.

Green Team Gazette Past Posts on Valentine's Day
This is always a good way to go through the archives and get some classic, timeless ideas!

There are lots of ways to show someone you love them. It wouldn't hurt to show the planet a little love along the way this Valentine's Day!

Image from and

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Cereal for a Cause

Inventions and innovations of any sort come out of need. What if a need could be solved by a breakfast cereal?

That certainly is an innovative way to solve a problem. And, it is the approach that Nature's Path Organics have decided to take regarding endangered sea turtles. They created Envirokidz Turtle Splash cereal, a regular healthy and organic style cereal with a twist. With each box you purchase, you get a code you can register online in order to "symbolically adopt a real sea turtle." Also, while you are there on their website you can learn other ways to help sea turtles such as passing on plastic straws, finding or organizing a beach clean up, or donating to SEE Turtles.

The day I investigated this, the website counter revealed that 270 turtles had been adopted via Turtle Splash Cereal codes.

Target and Thrive Market are two places you can buy a box of your very own. However, in investigating this, it looks like Turtle Splash is just the newest in an already long line of Envirokidz from Nature's Path. They have 17 other cereals designated to do the same, many of which are vegan or gluten free. Their mission statement:
"Here at EnviroKidz our mission is not only to make delicious organic food for kids, but to help save animals and the planet. That’s why each box features real life animals – animals who we support every time you choose one of our cereals, bars, or oatmeals."
For most of their cereals & foods listed here, they work with partners at 1% For the Planet, where 1% of the sales benefits animal partners working to save endangered animals and their habitats, along with educating children worldwide. Other Envirokidz Cereals & Foods.

  • Envirokidz Panda Puff Cereal
  • Envirokidz Choco Chimps Cereal
  • Envirokidz Leapin' Lemur Cereal
  • Envirokidz Cheetah Chomps Cereal
  • Envirokidz Amazon Flakes (benefits macaws)
  • Envirokidz Gorilla Munch Cereal
  • Envirokidz Koala Crisp Cereal 
  • Envirokidz Jungle Munch Cereal
  • Envirokidz Crispy Chocolate Rice Bars (benefits koalas)
  • Envirokidz Crispy Peanut Choco Rice Bars (benefits lemurs)
  • Envirokidz Crispy Berry Blast Rice Bars (benefits cheetahs)
  • Envirokidz Crispy Peanut Butter Rice Bars (benefits pandas)
  • Envirokidz Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (benefits chimpanzees)
  • Envirokidz Chewy Strawberry Granola Bars (benefits macaws)
  • Envirokidz Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal (benefits elephants) 
  • Envirokidz Brown Sugar Maple Oatmeal (benefits caribou)
  • Envirokidz Chocolate Chip Oatmeal (benefits chimpanzees)

Image from and

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Barbie As Environmental Leaders

I was a big fan of Barbies when I was a kid. It makes sense--it was the 1970s and Barbies were an "it toy" for girls. I had a 2-story doll house that someone had made, and one of my prized parts of it was the staircase that my dad had built to set next to the garage so Barbie and Ken and the crew could get up to the 2nd floor. (I mean really, what kind of house like that didn't have steps?)

I also had the fuschia Corvette and the barbie camper, and I remember zipping around both all over my house

Fast forward 30 years, and the Barbie camper & car made their way under my adult Christmas tree for my preschool daughter. Cleaned up by my dad after years of living in the attic, the vintage "Barbiemobiles" were in lovingly restored.

However, my daughter, always more of a tomboy, was never a fan of Barbies. Instead, her stuffed animals went tooling around our house in the Barbie camper. Barbie had been replaced in our house by my critter-lovin' girl.

Wildlife Conservationist
Fast forward another good dozen years or so, and there's potentially a new generation of Barbie-camper-drivers out there. Mattel and National Geographic have teamed together to create a new Barbie product line based around "exploration, science, conservation, & research." In the mix is "Ecologist Barbie" (or officially named "Wildlife Conservationist" Barbie). My daughter has well passed the age of driving her stuffed dogs around in the Barbie camper, but I love this idea. Barbie routinely has gotten her feminism on and taken on new adventures, and here we are again, with a new role of scientist and explorer in her credentials and curriculum vitae.

Nature photojournalist
Nalini Nadkarni, forest ecologist and canopy scientist, is part of the current promotional team of Mattel & National Geographic highlighting the explorer series of the new Barbie line and the wildlife conservationist Barbie. Other Barbies in this series include an astrophysicist, an entomologist, a polar marine biologist, and a nature photojournalist.

Polar Marine Biologist
Nalini, had long tried to get Mattel to embrace an idea of "Treetop Barbie." They didn't buy into it, so she created a line of her own via resale shops and constructing her own outfits in the early 2000s. Although not affiliated with Mattel, she got them to let her continue and she sold approximately 400 over the years.

Entomologist Barbie
From her 2009 TED Talk (where she discussed her created her own repurposed Barbies from thrift shops that she outfitted in outdoor gear to produce the dolls on a small scale): "My feeling is that we have taken this pop icon and have just tweaked her a little bit to become an ambassador who can carry the message that being a woman scientist studying treetops is really a great thing."

Astrophysicist Barbie
About 15 years later, she was finally invited to serve on National Geogrpahics and Mattel's advisory committee to come up with an "adventure series" of Barbies. What better way to inspire girls to embrace alternatives to traditional gender roles and careers. 

To read up more on Nalini Nadkarni's current venture with Mattel, check out these two articles:
Plus, don't forget to check out the Barbie Explore page on

Or, watch Nalini's 2009 TED Talk to learn more about the inspiration for Conservation Barbie:

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Trailforks: Making It Easy to Trailblaze

In the attempt to unplug and get more hours out in the great outdoors, hiking and biking are two great ways to go about that. State or National Parks make sense for that, but sometimes you just want a little something closer to home. With that though, sometimes you don't know where to begin that quest. Trailforks makes it easy!

Trailforks is a trail management system that ties with its own app to help you find where to go and what level of difficulty the trail holds. It's crowd-sourced with the help of GPS to create a common community. This means that users can update the information to help you know about the condition and other user-data that may be helpful. It gives recommended rides, notes the popularity of the trail, and reviews. You can also check out trail-specific photos and videos other people have uploaded to the database. You can also use GPS to map your trail while traversing on it. Not only does it accommodate the hikers or bikers out there, but it provides information for skiers, snowshoe'ers, snowmobile'ers, ATV'ers, horseback riders, dirt bikers, and electric bikers too.

Makes you want to go forth and plan some outdoor adventures!

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