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

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!

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

History of EE: Environmental Education

October 14-26, 1977, in Tbilisi--now in the country (not state) of Georgia in what was once part of the USSR--there was the First Intergovernmental Conference on Environmental Education. Created by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), the Tbilisi conference was one of the first of its kind to place emphasis on educating others about the perseveration and improvement of the global environment to help develop balanced communities world wide. 

While environmental education wasn't a new idea, this funneling of attention toward education and stewardship took root here in Tbilisi. 

To learn a bit more about this blossoming of environmental education, check out these two videos from the North American Association of Environmental Education.

Learn even more about the history of environmental educations more by going through NAAEE's 5 part learning module about the History of EE.

Videos from and, logo from, last image screenshot from

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Population Education's: A Quick Trip to 8 Billion

Population Education is an amazing website that brings together a lot of globally important factors: numbers, demographics, and human impact on each other, economics, and our planet. In the many. years of Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education conferences I've attended, I always try to catch any workshops presented by Population Education. They have a wealth of lesson plans and teaching resources, and they are top notch in anything they do.

One of my favorites is their World Population "Dot" video, which I first wrote about in 2015 and I watch at least once a year with students. Another version of it is their World Population History data visualization accompanying website.

Now, as our numbers keep growing, they have a new poster out: "A Quick Trip to 8 Billion." This two-sided wall chart gives a timeline of historical events and inventions over the past 200 years to show how the population has impacted all of this. The flip side shows a multitude of infographics detailing the challenges that come from increased population growth. Along with the poster, 3 lesson plans are included: 1). a guided exploration of the timeline; 2). a scavenger hunt to see how numbers and resources have changed over time; 3). an activity where students create a planetary report card to measure the human and environmental health of the planet over the past 200 years.

I'm looking forward to ordering a couple for my school. (Posters are $5, but $4 if you buy in larger quantities. Click here for details.) Additionally, you can also get a high resolution version of the e-poster.

Other Resources on their site include:

Population Education is tied to the following education websites to check out for even more resources:

Images from and logo from

Disclosure: I am not profiting at all if you purchase anything from their store--I just love their resources!

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

The Beauty of Each Season: Winter

Winter is probably the hardest season for me to be outside. I do love the crackling of the fireplace, the hibernation, and the coziness of blankets or snuggly warm clothing. However, it's the outdoor stuff that's hard for me. I'm not a fan of the cold, the wet, the snow in my boots, the ultimate turn to the slushy mushy mess, and the super dry skin. (The latter, this year, more than ever before!)

I will say, I do find it beautiful to look at though. The glowy bright light illuminating off the snow. The puffy piles of white lying on branches. The swirl of snow as it starts to fall. The stunning color of a bright red cardinal against the world of white. The backyard birds and animals foraging for seed from our feeders. 

Last year, we had a snow drought and basically in our area went over 700 days without snow. While we did see it a year ago Christmas when traveling, here at home it was a long while without snow. Until this past weekend! Mother Nature did her thing and dropped 4 or 5 inches, gifting us even with a ❄️ SNOW DAY!! ❄️ For teachers and kids alike, that announcement elicits a happy dance indeed. It never gets old. It's the ultimate gift. Even better if premeditated the night before. 

Living in a land of 4 distinct seasons, even though the outdoor part is something I have nudge myself out in, the first major snow definitely offers a pause. Especially when combined with the unexpected gift of a snow day and the gift of time, it offers the opportunity to take notice of the beauty that surrounds. Watching my son play with our frolicking dog who finds fascination in eating the white stuff. Taking note of how the world can change by these tiny little flakes that keep coming down. By the way everything changes when this planet crystalizes. 

Yes, there's a lot to learn from the winter and soaking in it's beauty and gift.

Images from , other images from my camera compiled with

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Reflections on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

With this weekend being Martin Luther King Day I've been doing a lot of thinking about all that 39 year old Dr. King accomplished in his life.

Monday (MLD Day) is seen as a Day of Service, one the only holidays we have dedicated as that. A day "on" versus a day "off." Of course, people are free to use it as they wish. As a teacher, even though we are newly back to school after Winter break, the 3 day weekend definitely felt like a timely gift. Already. 

Every year, right before MLK Day, I teach a curricular lesson with tech integration to the 4th graders, all about Dr. King and his 6 steps of nonviolent social change. 

I use the principles from the King Center and tie it into how the ideas of non-violence can be adapted on the playground, in their own home, or in big ways as they were used during the Civil Rights era. We discuss what "civil disobedience" means and how that would have looked during the 1950s and '60s with sit-ins, marches, bus boycotts, and peaceful protests. There's always a bit of shock and awe when I paint the picture of how sitting in at a Whites Only lunch counter could have people yelling or spitting or pouring milk shakes on black protesters quietly sitting there, peacefully making their point, and only wanting to purchase a burger or coffee, which really should be everyone's right. Then we discuss how courageous it is to sit there, trying to silently, peacefully showcase your point in a nonviolent way--how the violence being bestowed on theses protestors speaks louder and in a stronger, more poignant way... especially in a time period where watching the news unfold on the TV screen in your house was a new concept.

I always am hopeful that, as a white woman, I can convey my empathy, historic facts, and the fact that we aren't always proud of our history. I'm hopeful that I present it in a compassionate way to be heard by my students--especially my black students. I found myself this year, more than ever before, thinking that in this very partisan world, this classroom conversation was one that could create personal ramifications for myself and my own employment if I was living and teaching in a different school--in certain some of which I once taught. 

My guiding principle of teaching has always been "to educate." Especially with the following principle being at the heart of who I am as a teacher:

Yet here we are, in 2024, living in a very divided society where book banning happens and being "woke" (which isn't that really just being educated?) is seen as a problematic putdown. Sometimes, when doing the math, it feels like we are going the wrong way from the world in which I lived in as a child. We are 70ish years removed from the American Civil Rights movement, which was approximately 100 years after the Civil War. 

Perhaps we would do well to refocus as a society on the words and teachings of Dr. King to strive to do better, to be better, to embrace the ideals set forth in the Constitution, and work for the betterment of our community. Imagine the nation (if not the world) we'd live in if we had more days of service, taking action to help out our neighbors...for we are all indeed neighbors. 

If you need some ideas of what you can go out and do (on either Martin Luther King Jr. Day or any other day), revisit my GTG post from last year: "Go Beyond a Day of Service and Give Back All Year Long.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Riding the Line Between Snow And Rain

This past weekend we were trying to time a flexible yet sizable drive based on the weather. It would have us going westward through the mountains of Western Maryland while a weather system was traveling eastbound. 

Mountains and higher elevations tend to complicated life when it comes to potential snow storms, inclines, ice, and road preparedness for all of the above. Add to that the two day window of a weekend, and trying to figure out when it's best to leave and when we definitely want to make sure to be back. Additionally, we knew to expect more rain here, but there was a lot of uncertainty as to to what was between here and our western destination in the middle of all of the above. 

It makes for an interesting juggle, to say the least. Not to mention, it's a lot like Vegas gambling. Try to get there before it all hits? Wait until it all passes? Hope the timetable and the storm doesn't shift in a way that does not serve us! And heaven forbid: no freezing rain or sleet!

There's a lot of unpredictability that exists when riding the line between snow and rain. A few degrees of temperature difference can make all the difference indeed. I think the impact of it all has hit harder as this is really the first winter storm system that was heading our way this year, when the ground at our house has yet to see its first flake in probably 2 years.

All of this lead me to pondering and the land of investigation...and the following videos. Might as well learn a little bit while we were waiting for our travel window to fall in our lap!

Saturday, January 6, 2024

The Endangered Species Act: Looking Good at 50!

Thursday, December 28th, 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. With all the hubbub of the holidays, this li'l snippet of information might have gotten lost by many. (I know I personally was losing track of what day of the week it was, while traveling, home on break, and partaking in far too many festive feasts.)

But 50th birthdays/anniversaries are meant to be celebrated. And truly, since 1973, there's a lot to celebrate regarding our planet, biodiversity, animal conservation, and the protection of endangered species!

Five Fast High Fives:

1. Species Recovery: Thanks to the Endangered Species Act (the ESA), many species have come been fortunate enough to become success stories, bouncing back from the edge of extinction. Some notable ones include the bald eagle, gray wolf, California condor, and the Peregrine falcon.
2. Habitat Protection: Through restoring habitats, the ESA has led to the preservation of a multitude of diverse ecosystems. This level of safeguarding has helped protect the Florida panther in the Everglades, red-cockaded woodpeckers in longleaf pine forests, and several salmon species in the Pacific Northwest. 
3. Preventing Extinctions:  Through identifying threats and putting conservation measures in place, the ESA has helped to prevent the extinction of many species including the Whopping Crane, manatee, and sea otters. 

4. Global Influence: Successes these past 50 years due to the ESA has served as inspiration to other countries, leading them to create their own laws for safeguarding species on the edge of endangerment and extinction. Japan, Australia, and India are just a few countries that have put protection laws in place.

5. Economic Benefits: Conservation efforts under the ESA have been known to boost local economies by way of eco-tourism. While not a product of the ESA, eco-tourism has been on the rise in the last 50 years in places like Yellowstone National Park, the Galápogos, and other nature-centric parks, sanctuaries, and wildlife refuges.

To go deeper into the celebration, you can check out these websites:

  • The Endangered Species Act at 50 website. You can read up on their successes, events, and learn ways to take action to protecting biodiversity and the longevity of all species.

The Endangered Species Act at 50 logo from; Some of the specific species in the Fast Five High Fives were modifiied from questions posed to ChatGPT regarding the five best things to come out of the Endangered Species Act on January 3, 2024. The ESA at 50 National Poster: released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to highlight 8 species that were directly impacted by the ESA. Photo credit: Paintings by Cal Robinson, a public affairs specialist in the Service’s Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Goals for the New Year

With the turn of the calendar, as I mentioned in the last post, 'tis the season for goals and resolutions. 

Among my logistical travels, it gave me extra time for social medial scrolling travel, and I landed on these 4 images and infographics...all of which speak to living the year with new, green goals. Maybe there'll be a few ideas here to visually inspire you to start your year off right.