Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Jane Goodall's 90th Birthday--Environmental Champion

Lately, with life events, I've been living the Meg Ryan Lines in the 1991 movie "When Harry Met Sally" and I've been "trapped under something heavy." 

Given that, I've not been running as "on time" as I'd like. But there's a lot going on in the world eco-wise these days. Please bear with me as I play a little important catch up...starting with Jane Goodall's birthday about 2 weeks ago on April 3rd. 90 years are definitely worth celebrating!

Born in 1934, Jane Goodall is certainly an environmental champion and cheerleader. A primatologist, an ethologist (person who studies animal behavior), an anthropologist, a conservationist, a UN Messenger of Peace, an activist, a trailblazer, and the founder of The Jane Goodall Institute. Not letting 9 decades slow her down, she's currently on a worldwide tour to hit 6 continents this year. Her primary message: "hope through action." She's a phenomenal lady who could be slowing down, but would rather spend her time, energy, and effort fighting the good fight on behalf of our planet. In the days leading up to Earth Day, she certainly is one to celebrate!

And here are some additional tributes to this amazing environmental champion with some of my previous posts--happy belated birthday, Dr. Jane Goodall!

Images: Portrait from her Jane Goodall Press kit (OTH0163-02-CREDIT: JGI/Bill Wallauer.jpeg) https://archive.janegoodall.org/portals/presskit?_gl=1*ouonf9*_ga*MTg2NTE2NzMzMy4xNzEyOTMyOTY3*_ga_TJ66KYN8TV*MTcxMjkzMjk2Ny4xLjEuMTcxMjkzMzYzMC42MC4wLjA.*_gcl_au*MTQ1MTYwODEyNi4xNzEyOTMyOTY3&_ga=2.129113676.157562142.1712932967-1865167333.1712932967, group photo taken by me on a school visit just a day after her 74th birthday https://www.greenteamgazette.com/2014/04/happy-80th-bday-jane-goodall.html, videos from https://youtu.be/7ZFgtsRpsUM?si=XmTU3ivgKBGd087L and https://youtu.be/wBZEVOuvqi8?si=Ds0t5CAJdnNpnkGF

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Earth Day 2024: Planet Vs. Plastics

Earth Day is on its way, swiftly approaching on April 22nd. Since its first one in 1970, Earth Day has been a day dedicated to the betterment of our planet.

The 2024 Theme: Planet vs. Plastics

The goal: to remove 60% of the plastics by 2040...with the true goal to aim for a plastic-free planet. 

When you think of plastics, it's everywhere--and sometimes it's necessary. Think about its role in the medical field. However, the overuse of single use plastic has got to go. Not only is it a waste of a valuable, non-renewable resource (petroleum), but it is an endocrine disruptor and toxic hazard which can cause cancer. It's everywhere--in our food, in our fast fashion, in our air and water. And it's not recycled like we all wishfully think it is--only 5% is recycled globally




For a bounty of ideas, check out the Earth Day Action Toolkit 2024 from EarthDay.org. You can find many of their other Earth Day and beyond toolkits here.

Additionally, here are more resources:


What will you do for Earth Day this year?

HERE

Earth Day PSA video: https://youtu.be/xP-iIilHQsU?si=OMGF2Ja2tIbfY_fr, image from https://www.dreamstime.com/illustration/plastic-vs-planet.html and https://www.earthday.org/planet-vs-plastics/, Earth Month Calendar from https://subjecttoclimate.org/blog/2024-earth-day-activity-guide-for-6-8#Lesson%20Plans

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Visualizing the Ripple Effect of Climate Disasters

I ran across this amazing data visualization graphic on FutureEarth's Instagram page



Just like a stone thrown in the water creates a myriad of ripples that go out from the inner circle, this graphic shows the ripple effects that happen with climate change-related disasters. It becomes an extensive and interrelated dot-to-dot. Some of those outer rings of dots connect to surprising effects that one wouldn't suspect like allergies, food insecurity, skin infections, mental health issues, malnutrition and more. 

Everything is connected. Given that, we need to use our connections to make sure to live better. We need to use our human connections to collectively make our planet a better place, and help protect it from the climate hazards that could be ahead if our planet keeps heating up.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Eclipse Fever 2024


The eclipse is coming...the eclipse is coming....

It's the 2024 version of "Chicken Little."

Everyone right now has Eclipse Fever.

If you have been living under a rock, start here. It's our first total solar eclipse in the US since 2017....and the next is approx 2 decades away, slated for August 23, 2044.

I have friends flying into Dallas to view the totality to soak it up in its entirety. To find where you are on the eclipse map, check it out here.


Even if you are directly on the path of darkness and totality, that darkness will only last 3.5-4 minutes. (I had to chuckle when I saw on social media today that the length of time of totality is a strikingly similar length of time to Bonnie Tyler's 1983 song "Total Eclipse of the Heart." 🤣😎

As a product of the '80's, I have it burned on my brain (versus my retina) that YOU DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT A SOLAR ECLIPSE FOR FEAR OF EYE DAMAGE. Therefore, I am a more of a fan of the pinhole camera for solar eclipse viewing. Gotta say: the solar glasses scare me. No matter which approach you take--be safe out there people, and protect your eyes!

For where I live, the height of the eclipse is approximately 3:21 pm (right during after school dismissal and high school sports--tell me, are high school kids going to play lacrosse or run track with solar glasses on?!?), with it's 2 hour, 28 minute span lasting 2:08 pm to about 4:33. 

Be safe out there people, since this is key after school prime time.

It's been all over the news these last few days, let alone few weeks, so I feel redundant sharing too much....except for this:

  • NASA's website is phenomenal, and a super "go to" place if you still need eclipse information.
  • If you have purchased/acquired solar glasses to safely view the eclipse...consider recycling them by paying it forward for others to use. There are eclipse glasses recycling programs where you can send forward your glasses for the Oct. 2nd, 2024 South American viewable eclipse. Glasses need to ship by August 1st. 

And these are just plain interesting and/or funny--things I landed upon in the wonderful world of social media:

Chicken image created using Canva.com's Magic Media, Eclipse path:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2023/10/17/total-solar-eclipse-2024-path-totality-locations/, videos from https://youtu.be/sAwSQHFRpp4? and https://youtu.be/DoD5ACZfzHU?si=oBWGC52rBdeR4Tr8si=HYD6th4pKuOYC_t-; Oreo eclipse found on social media.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

"Bee" Kind to Bees 🐝

Someday we may be the proud owner of some bees and a bee box (or two). My husband's been looking into it with some county education classes--much to my son's chagrin. (My son will come around one day).

Bees are vital to many areas of our grocery story, yet bees are in decline. So doing what we can to help them is a good thing!



You don't have to join BeeKeepers of America to lend a helping hand to our flying little friends. It can be as simple as what you plant in your own yard. This illustration from Hannah Rosengren gives some great ideas on how to build a bee-friendly yard.

Video from https://youtu.be/r7EpQnzbwA8?si=v7G3zpkDhqKpSwjr and https://youtu.be/LmBUq103u-M?si=jXvIJAZyTSOVjfsW; image from https://www.hannahrosengren.com/help-save-bees

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Happy Easter 2024

This weekend is Easter Weekend....if you are still looking for some last minute ways green your Easter scene, here are a few options for you. (Pro-tip #1--plastic grass, in not recyclable! If you have it, save and reuse it. Otherwise, find the crinkled paper version!!)

Additionally, here this Easter weekend, whether you celebrate the religious side or the hippity-hop Easter bunny side Easter, may this weekend and spring bring you joy. Spend a little time out there in nature too. Find, see, and smell the flowers.


Images created at canva.com

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

The Power of Parklets

Funny....sometimes when you run across something for the first time, the next thing you know is that you are seeing it everywhere. 

This is what happened to me regarding parklets.

A parklet is a little do-it-yorself mini park, which urban areas and city dwellers are creating more and more of to counter green up the space, cutting down on the concrete jungles of urban areas. They help soothe both our physical and mental health by providing these pockets of green.

I ran across parklets in the the OneTreePlanted article by Gabrielle Clawson entitled Good News! 30 Positive Environmental Stories From 2023, which I used for the creation of my March 6th blog post "Postivtive Environmental Stories for 2023." Parklets was listed as Clawson's #12 item. 

Parklets reminded me of downtown Annapolis during the pandemic. Restaurants took away parking places on the street to bring out planter boxes and more tables so that people could have the restaurant experience while dining outside. String some lights, make it cozy, bring in the greenery, and voila--goregous outdoor seating, with friends and family, for safer, accessible, open air dining during Covid times.

Next thing I know, parklets and their nature and health benefits are everywhere!

Parklets started their modest beginning in 2005 in San Francisco, and since then have begun popping up in many different ways. They bring about greater connections and a sense of community. They widen and invite greater outdoor living. It all is part of what makes a community "livable."

Looking for all the benefits parklets provide: Check out any of these articles: 

In the market to make your own? Check out Happy Eco New's How to Build a Parklet DIY.

With spring having sprung, makes me want to go out and find a li'l parakeet of my own to go and just soak in the sun, maybe a snack, and enjoy a little people watching along the way!

Images from https://scs.georgetown.edu/news-and-events/article/7858/creating-community-sense-of-place-parklet and https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2023/1/19/baltimore-wants-permanent-parklets and  https://www.cincinnatimagazine.com/citywiseblog/covington-parklets/ and https://www.capitalgazette.com/2019/09/01/parklets-in-west-annapolis/

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Earth Hour Is Here: Tonight, March 23 ~ 8:30 -- 9:30 pm

What are you doing tonight, Saturday, March 23 from 8:30-9:30 pm?

Earth Hour is here, during that hour, in your time zone. 

Want to learn more--check out my recent post on Earth Hour.

Best part of being a part of Earth Hour is the highlight of how important one set 60 minutes for one person is when it is multiplied out by hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, globally. It shows the importance of the act of one to make a difference and highlight the importance of our planet. 

Timing really is perfect this year, the day after the annual United Nations Environmental holiday World Water Day--a day highlighting how important it is for people worldwide to have access to clean water. Maybe even paying attention to your water consumption today is a great way to start honoring Earth Hour!

If you are looking for ideas on what to do for you, your family, or your kids, check out these ideas, all from my 2018 Earth Hour post:

  • Stock up on candles and light them up as you knock out all your other lights at 8:30 pm.
  • Unplug and have some good ole fashioned non-tech time.
  • Play a game of night time Hide & Seek.
  • Have a candlelight dinner... perhaps al fresco.
  • Roast some marshmallows over a bonfire with good friends.
  • Take a moonlit stroll.
  • Spend some time in reflection and meditation.
  • Play board games with your family by flashlight.
  • Go stargazing.
  • Take a night hike.
  • Tell ghost stories.
  • Take time having great conversations and quality time with someone you love.
  • ...the sky is the limit! Create your own fun! 

Additionally, you can check out the resource over at Earthhour.org:

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

The Beauty of Each Season: Spring

Spring is my season! The warming of the days. The daylight getting longer. The freshness and color that starts sparking the world. The winter hibernation coming to the end. 
It is the season I wake up. 

The first day of spring this year happened on March 19th. 

I'm always curious why sometimes it's the 21st or the 23rd, and know it has to do with the rotation of the planet and it's tilt, plus throw in a Leap year, and it always shifts slightly. In fact, this year is the earliest it has ever been in the 128 years of recording this data.

But spring is here, and there truly is beauty all around.

Following suit from my last "Beauty of Each Season: Winter," I popped back to @PositivelyPresent's Instagram page and found her graphics on Spring--so whether it is your season or not, my you find some love and lessons in this season!


Images from https://www.instagram.com/positivelypresent/?img_index=1 and spring photos from my camera, compiled in canva.com

Saturday, March 16, 2024

United Nations International Day of Happiness: March 20th


"Happiness" is a concept that has popped up a lot lately. Most recently when my daughter was on an academic spring break trip in Spain, and mentioned that everyone, everywhere she visited, seemed happier than we do here in America. 

With school, we are currently just starting our spring break, which of course is the epitome of happiness for teachers and students alike. Moreover, after break, we have a faculty/staff book club starting with Shawn Achor's book The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life. Achor also has a TED Talk on the subject.


About a month ago, I was gifted tickets to see Dr. Laurie Santos at the Baltimore Speaker Series. Santos is a psychologist and professor at Yale, and her "Psychology and the Good Life" course has been Yale's most popular course in 300 years. It currently too is a free Coursera program of 10 modules, which starts March 16th. She also is the creator of the Happiness Lab podcast.

Or maybe it's just the cusp of spring, longer days, blooming flowers, and all of that, which makes me happy too. 

Thinking too about happiness led to me to think about mental health, and how we as an American society are facing a mental health crisis of epic proportions and all-time highs. The post pandemic epidemic.

As I was pondering all of that, I came to find out that here, during my school spring break, the United Nations' International Day of Happiness falls right smack dab in the middle of it--on March 20th annually. First celebrated in 2013, the UN General Assembly aimed in the day to honor and recognize “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples.”  It ties to the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals and views happiness and well-being as a basic human right. Here is the video introduction including Pharrell William (creator of the song "Happy" speaking about happiness its global impact.


Additionally, the World Happiness Report for 2024 is due out at noon (EST) on UN's International Day of Happiness. In it, it will reveal general overviews of the trends as well as a list in order of the happiest countries in the world. Last year's 2023 report placed Finland at #1 for the 6th year in a row, based on these key features: social support, income, health, freedom, generosity, and the absence of corruption. This January 2023 article from CNBC also proposes that countries like Finland place a stronger emphasis on the following than we do in the United States: more vacation time for employees, a stronger sense of community, lack of a comparison view of each other, and a tie to nature are key features also at play. Might be something there!


For some ideas on. how to bring a little more happiness into your life, check out the website International Day of Happiness.




Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Earth Hour 2024 Is On It's Way--Mark Your Calendar for March 23

Earth Hour is one of my favorite "environmental days."


By turning off your lights and/or doing something during the hours of 8:30 to 9:30 pm in your time zone on this Saturday, March 23, you can place a vote toward the betterment of our planet.

To learn more, check out any of the links above, watch the video below, or click on Earth Hour's "About" page.

What can you do to take part in Earth Hour this year? Need help deciding....Earth Hour's links can help:

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Positive Environmental News for 2023

OneTreePlanted is a great place to go for good environmental news. After landing on their article "Good Environmental Stories From 2023," I was inspired to create the world map infographic below, showcasing some of the great news that includes plastic and paper bans, rejuvenated species, ocean clean ups, activism, biodiversity, and other great eco news. Click the poster to see an enlarged version, then click article links to find out more!!


Image created at canvas.com using information from https://onetreeplanted.org/blogs/stories/good-news-2023


Saturday, March 2, 2024

World Wildlife Day ~ March 3rd


March 3rd: The day in 1931 that the United States adopted "Star Spangled Banner" as it's national anthem.

Additionally, March 3 is also the annual date of World Wildlife Day, voted on December 20, 2013 by the United Nations to be an annual environmental date of honor and celebration of wildlife.. This date is significant as it ties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that was signed in 1973.

The 2024 theme is “Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation.” The focus is on tying together innovation, technology, biodiversity, and wildlife conservation.


High-level United Nations events taking place at their headquarters in New York City will be live-streamed here on Monday, March 4th.



Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Things To Love This February: Leap Year

Last but not least, this February we get to love Leap Year. 

A bonus day! An occurrence that happens only once every 4 years, it's a fun to have it be a "leap year" year!! And with a presidential election ahead this fall, we know that they also happen on leap years too.


But why? Why do we have Leap Years? Well, here's why....and it's all about math!


Looking for some last minute lesson plans for Leap Year? Check these out.


Saturday, February 24, 2024

Things To Love This February: FETC Follow Up

I love me a good conference. I mean, only if it is a REALLY good conference. One filled with loads of workshops by engaging presenters, with ideas that you can put into place the very next day.

Two annual conferences fit that bill for me: MAEOE (my environmental Superbowl) and FETC (an edtech extravaganza). 

January 23-26, 2024 they held the 44th annual Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando, Florida. I've been twice (in 2017 and 2018) and each time, I soak up information like a sponge. 

It didn't work out for me to go this year, but I was thrilled when I got their email announcing their free February 14th's Best of FETC: Top Takeaways and Future Trends for 2024 webinar.  Moderated by Rita Ferrandino (FETC Founder), Jennifer Womble (FETC Conference Chair), and Micha Ward (FETC Education Reporter & District Administration).

If you are an edtech junkie, it's definitely worth a listen. On top of the synergetic experiences they all had, some of their big topics of conversation were:
  • Certification & Badge programs
  • eSports
  • Robotics, coding, & drones
  • Creativity as engagement
  • All aspects of  artificial intelligence: upholding academic integrity, productivity helps to teacher, and AI-built into products as "magic"
  • How tech can leverage people with disabilities with assistive technologies
  • Cyber security and digital citizenship
  • 3D printing
  • Augmented and virtual reality.
One of their big thoughts included the optimism they are seeing in education. The tools that are out there are really giving teachers some of their time back--helping them to automate grading, co-creating lesson plans and streamline teachers work, and making teaching fun again. (Dan Fitzpatrick, author of The AI Classroom, was one of the keynote speakers.) 

Other places to go learn more about how FETC was this year:
Additionally, FETC is planning monthly webinars will continue to follow their name, carrying the edtech conversation into the "future." You can click here to learn more about that and those future topics. 

The world of technology both in and out of the classroom is exciting right now. I expect there will be lots happening in the future! FETC will definitely have its finger on the pulse!

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Things To Love This February: World Thinking Day

World Thinking Day is celebrated annually on February 22nd in the arena of Girl Scouts, and has been for 98 years--since 1926. Officially "Girl Scouts" falls in the more largely named "World Association of Girl Guides & Girls Scouts." This is an organization that touches 10 million girls in over 150 countries.

World Thinking Day is a day dedicated to international friendship, and thinking about global issues that impact each other. Themes differ from year to year, but this year's theme is Our World, Our Thriving Future: The Environment and Global Poverty.

Recent themes in years past (which also tie to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) include:

Whether you are a Girl Scout to any degree or not, thinking about our world, it's thriving future, and how the environment ties into global poverty is an important issue to think about. 

Here are some places you can learn more: 

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Things To Love This February: Black History Month Resources

With February being Black History Month, mid-month is a good time to check in with where you are with educating both your students and yourself about the importance of black history 

The Center for Racial Justice in Education has a treasure trove with at least 80 links on these subjects:

  • How Do We Celebrate Black History Month? Lesson Plans and Curriculum Resources for Educators
  • Do We Need Black History Month? The Underrepresentation and Miseducation of Black Stories, Experiences, and Histories in Schools
  • Why Teach Black Lives Matter in Schools? (Think Pieces)
  • Where Are Afro-Latinos Represented in School Curricula?
  • How Do We Center Black Women and Black Girls in Our Schools?
  • How Do We Center Black LGBTQ Experiences?
  • As a Parent, What Are Ways I Can Engage My Family in Black History Month?:
Other good places to check in on:

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Things To Love This February: Valentine's Day

The literal and figurative heart of February is Valentine's Day. Smack dab in the center of the month (as well as in the center of Random Acts of Kindness Week--this year: Feb 11-17), it's a day centered around the heart and cherishing our loved ones.

In case you need a little history lesson, here's a kid-friendly video on the history of St. Valentine's Day.

Given the tie in between Valentine's Day and  Random Acts of Kindness Week, why don't you sprinkle the love and kindness around like little heart-shaped confetti. See how far your heart can spread this year. (There are great resources for both schools and individual use at the Random Act of Kindness website!)

Videos from https://youtu.be/5fmy1MX42b8?si=Rld6OXuBjVqfbafm and https://youtu.be/tOLEyhNJksg?si=yve1Iu5zW8UwbxFE, Image created at canva.com

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Things To Love This February: February Environmental Days

We all know about your standard February days of Valentine's Day, Presidents' Day, and Leap Year this year. Well that's not all that's in store this month. There's also a slew of Environmental Days as well!


Click below to learn a little bit more about each of these February Environmental Days :
  • World Ostrich Day: Feb 2nd (not endangered or vulnerable, but populations declining due to threats)
  • World Whale Day: Feb 18th (many species are endangered--celebrated annually 3rd Sunday of February)

Image created at Canva.com

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Things To Love This February: Super Bowl Sunday & President's Day

Unless you are living under a rock and have missed all the hubbub about Taylor Swift & Travis Chelsea, you probably know that this weekend is Super Bowl Sunday. Time honored tradition, and always ripe for classroom resources...whether you go to watch the game or the commercials.

Additionally, Presidents' Day is up ahead this February 19th. Here's some more resources for my teacher friends:


Super Bowl image from https://www.npr.org/2024/02/10/1230621176/super-bowl-58; Presidents's Day Image from https://www.template.net/edit-online/57412/vintage-presidents-day-linkedin-post

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Things to Love This February: #FeedTheBirdsDay & The Great Backyard Bird Count

It's that chilly time of year where some parts of the country are blanketed with either white, cold, or a combination of both. This is the time that animals who have stockpiled their food supply may be running low. It's that time of the year where our neighboring nature creatures are start really having a hard time finding find food. This is especially true for our feathered friends. 

Given that and given that February is National Bird Feeding Month, every year on February 3rd is Feed the Birds Day. The first official one was in 1994, proclaimed by Congressman John Porter, encouraging people to hang their bird feeders to offer food to flyer-by. Additionally, you can help by setting up bird baths for drinking water or birdhouses for shelter. 

Also tying in to all this, the Great Backyard Bird Count is held annually for 4 days in February. This year it is February 16-19. The Great Backyard Bird Count gives you an opportunity to be a citizen scientist. Lowest level commitment to participate: find a 15 minute block of time during those 4 days, then record your findings online at birdcount.org. (As I tell my students: you can always do more!!) Your recorded observations will then help scientists get a flavor of the biodiversity in your area, as well as helping to better understanding of global bird populations. You can always learn more at their website.

Whether you are a tried-and-true bird watching aficionado or a casual backyard enthusiast, you can take part during this last leg of winter. Help pump up those extra calories to help them stay warm and help make their search easier. Fill your feeders and embrace that mantra from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams: "If you build it, they will come." Make your backyard a fly-through dinner spot for your neighborhood feathered friends this month, especially here on the 3rd of February!

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Nature is the Best Teacher

Just as art sometimes imitates life, the environment can inspire technology.

In these 4 minutes by Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials, we can see just how in many ways. Nature and the environment tend to be the best inspiration for tech and innovation--and likewise, innovation will help solve our environmental issues.

Video from https://youtu.be/BYCI8SYngR8?si=G72oVHSboIOFdNQQ

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Using Environmental Education As Empowerment

As the perfect follow up from my last post about the history of environmental education...

In this TED Talk from May 2023, Arvolyn Hill speaks out about her experiences as a black woman tying together environmental awareness with racial justice. She also talks about her nature programs at the New York Botanical Gardens and how these programs can help black and brown kids see themselves out in nature....because representation matters!