Share
Get This

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ECS Re-Greening 2014

In the spring (and months leading up to that), my school partner in "green" and I finalized what we had started over Christmas break:  The "re-greening" of Eagle Cove School.  Since 2006 when ECS (formerly "Gibson Island Country School") became an official Maryland "Green" School, every 4 years we need to go through a re-certification process.  This process is necessary in order to ensure that the school is continuing forth with its environmental initiatives.  So after 2010, 2014 was our 2nd time for us to go forth to do that.  Of course, the "Green Team" of the two of us started the undertaking of re-greening long before our January 8th announcement that Eagle Cove was closing.

And, as I wrote about in my June 8th post "A Great School Lives in its Students Forever," we achieved that re-greening goal.  We became re-certified... even as our doors were closing.  Despite the fact that the school was closing, the re-greening has to do with the eco-accomplishments of the four previous years.  During those past 4 years (from 2010--2014), we all went from being an already-great environmental school to strengthening it--making it an even stronger and "greener" curriculum.  We ended at the height of our curricular career and the height of our environmentalism.  For that reason, we felt it was necessary to pay final tribute.

Interestingly enough, we were only one 4-year term away from becoming a Sustained Maryland Green School (which is the result of a successful third re-certification).

What I hadn't done though was to share that tribute with the GTG community.  Until now.  Here is the link that takes you to website that we created to showcase our triumphs at ECS over the last 4 years.


To see the complete list of Maryland "Green" Schools as of May 2014, click here.

To learn more about Maryland "Green" Schools or becoming one yourself, check out the Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education website.


Screenshots from http://ecsgreen.weebly.com/ and my own camera.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

7 Things About Nature That Kids (of All Ages) Must Know

Here's a little philosophical journey I put together to get kids of all ages to consider when thinking about Nature.

This presentation was created over at Haiku Deck, and it was inspired by the general thoughts Ratnesh Mathur's thealternative.in article.  I have paraphrased the key points here, and put in some of my own two-cents inside the "Notes" portion.  May it inspire you to get a little philosophical and environmental as well!


7 Things ABout Nature... 
Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Inspiration and article of Ratnesh Mathur from http://www.thealternative.in/lifestyle/7-things-nature-kids-must-know

Monday, July 14, 2014

What Do You Love?

What do you love?  The United Kingdom's Climate Coalition wants to know, because there is a very strong possibility that many of the things you love (beaches, chocolate, coffee, your children, a sustainable planet) could be in jeopardy the more climate change begins to affect us.  They are inviting you to not only watch their "For the Love of..." video, but also to visit their website and "add your love story."   By doing so, the Climate Coalition hopes you'll take a vested interest and look beyond the hype of doubt, and fight for what you love.  As their website "About" page states:  "Our love for these things is stronger.  Stronger than fear.  Stronger than apathy.  Strong enough to make action happen."

Another place to learn more after watching the video:  Check out The Climate Coalition.



Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ka_kQUvojeI&app=desktop
Image from http://fortheloveof.org.uk/about/ 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Gregg Segal's "7 Days of Garbage"

Garbage can tend to gross out most people... except maybe garbagologists.  Even the most avid of recyclers or composters can tend to get a lost of waste at the end of the day...not to mention the end of the week!

2_7 Days of Garbage_Si#9C36A0

Artist Gregg Segal takes a photo-approach to analyzing a week's worth of waste.  Given the average American makes approximately 4 pounds of trash per day, multiply that out by 7 days, and the number of people in your family.  That's a lot of landfill-fodder.  His visuals are certainly eye-opening... and for anyone with an active imagination, you can't help but wonder about the odor!

11_7 Days of Garbage_Ha#9C3688

But I think for me, who is always analyzing the overuse of plastic that abounds in our society, the pictures make an interesting survey of how much disposable plastic there is.  Much like the hotel plastic-wrapped plastic cups or the plastic-wrapped apples I've seen.  Is all of this even necessary?  And, is it all even recyclable?  Is this a good use for our depleting petroleum supply?  I think visuals like this really can make you sit and wonder about the whys, ponder about the pollution, and rethink what it is we are all doing.  Clearly, from Gregg Segal's photos, what we are doing is trashing the planet.

4_7_Days_Garbage_Chow Family 66189

Kudos to Mr. Segal for helping us look at things in a new way and puzzle about why we are doing this to ourselves!!  To view his whole collection, visit it at the 2014 Fence Website (& there, learn more about the 1,000 foot outdoor photo installation in Boston, the Brooklyn Bridge Park, & Atlanta through October 2014).


Photos from the Slate article "Mesmerizing Photos of People Lying in a Week's Worth of Their Trash" by Jordan G. Teicher. http://www.slate.com/blogs/behold/2014/07/08/gregg_segal_photographs_people_with_a_week_s_worth_of_their_trash_in_his.html

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How Eating & Health Go Hand in Hand

It's no surprise that eating and health go hand in hand.  Or hand in fork.  Or belt around belly.

This summer I took a class for my teaching certificate (ahh, continuing education and required credit hours).  The class was EDU 135:  Children's Health, Nutrition, & Safety.  As part of the class, I had to do up a PowerPoint on 5 related issues that affect children's health.  So, given I'm paying attention to my own health & nutrition this summer (always trying to lose a few pesky pounds), I went with the topic of "Health Problems Relating to Eating Habits."  The 5 in question:  dental caries (or tooth decay), hypertension (or high blood pressure), obesity, cardiovascular disease (or  heart disease), and diabetes.  The latter four are definitely hotbeds of health topics these days, especially in America.

May a little viewing help you bring around your own prevention!!


Dabrowka power point edu 135 for slideshare from Vicki Dabrowka

Each of the 5 has a video embedded in the presentation.  If it doesn't come up, just click the link per slide and it will open in another window.


Image from http://www.healthyezrecipes.com/healthy-eating-guide.html 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Breaking Down the Ins and Outs of Compost


Composting 101 Infographic
Last week (or so) I wrote about my conundrum on at-home composting, so this seemed like the perfect infographic follow-up.  I have yet to make a decision on what at-home composter I'm going with, but the research continues on.  In the meantime, study up on Composting 101.  Click this link for the original infographic to see it in a more readable size!


Image from Hometown Dumpster Rental

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Blast From the Past: Summer Green Team Gazette Newsletters

Recycling at it's finest....Here's the "Throw back Thursday" from 2009 & 2010, GTG's newsletter days



Monday, June 23, 2014

Fishing... Or Cutting Bait... in CompostLandia

I have been making soil for 6 years.

It all started back after my first year at Eagle Cove School.  I spent that year training my students what goes in paper recycling, what goes in co-mingled recycling, and what goes into composting. .As a Maryland "Green" School--that's what you do.  That's what we did.  You educated the youth--that younger population. With all of that (plus the extras like juice pouches that we upcycled with Terracycle), there wasn't much left for any kind in our class of "real trash."  I came home that summer, making salads galore, intent to live a healthy lifestyle of good food choices, and I was struck with a bit of an ethical/environmental dilemma.  I've composted at school--what the heck do I do with that green pepper innard?  I found myself incapable of throwing away "garbage" that was no longer garbage.  It was now compost.  Hence, "the dreaded Dabrowka bucket" (as it became known as at ECS) was born.

So.... for 6 years, I brought my li'l green camo bucket to school every Friday, to be weighed and emptied by some poor 5th grader (who probably got the short straw in the draw).  Being a home compost (that regularly carried the remnants of a newly-cleaned-out-fridge), it always surpassed the class composts of apple cores, napkins, and sandwich crusts.  Along those lines, it even surpassed the coffee-grounds & grown up lunches of the Teacher's Lounge compost bucket in weight, volume, stench, and sometimes even grosser things.  Many years, there was the educational discussion on the merits of garbage-ology (and all that you can learn) from just the Dabrowka Bucket.  It basically was urban legend 6 years in--and even sometimes the topic of 5th grade graduation speeches.

So.... here I am now.  My classroom is empty, my school is closed, the Fort Knox of compost lies awaiting the ability to make soil, without any kind of invitation to me to really come back and visit--as it is in the middle of changing guards & arms. I cannot make soil there, nor is my compost welcome anymore.  Fort Knox is mine no longer.  And yet, I have a 5 gallon bucket that's ready for delivery!

So.... what the heck do I do now?  I think I am at that proverbial crossroads called "fish or cut bait."  To compost or not to compost--that is the question.  In the interim, 6 years of habits die hard.  I have a very full compost bucket of 2 weeks' worth of food waste.  My 5-pound bucket keeps moving a little further on our patio, away from our back door.  Flies are hovering, wanting desperately to get in.  So I either need to go back to the idea of dumping food waste in our trash, leading to the dumping of post-dated leftovers in the landfill....or, I need to come up with a backyard composting plan.  Moving toward methane-production in the landfill isn't making this girl happy.  I'm starting to survey Amazon.com to see what might be worth the purchase.  No definitive decisions yet.  However, if you are an individual that holds some inside info on this subject, I'd be glad to learn more--so send forth any die-hard details & good ideas in the composting department!!

Until then, I am "mushing" food deeper into my 5-gallon compost bucket, making room for more & more....thinking longingly of Eagle Cove's School's Fort Knox composting heap while I try to figure out where to go from here.



Sunday, June 15, 2014

School's Out For Summer!

Here is my disclaimer:

I have been on summer break for 2 weeks.  After a week of packing up my classroom in my now-closed-for-good school-I-love (and filling up garage with a bounty of boxes and double stacking my bookshelves in my house with chapter books), I'm officially on summer vacation.

Whoo hoo!!


Given that, I've been having a summer--well, sorta. We're still in the early stages over here.  I'm facing a house that's been largely been neglected the last 4 months while job searching. I'm finishing up a graduate level class for reinstating my teaching certificate. I taught a Professional Development half day on iPads at one of my old schools.  I'm starting to attend new teacher summer workshops for my new school this fall. Then too, there's the regular mom stuff.  But, I've also gotten the chance to hang out in my pool, and visit with one of my favorite colleagues I've ever taught with.  What a great way to share & exchange ideas--while catching up with a dear, old friend!!

Ergo...I've been Green Team absent as of late. Hence the disclaimer.

But luckily, I can back-post!

So... to all those teachers out there---here's a little note for you.  Hope you're eating it up!!  We earned it, and have deserved it!  Take advantage of it--each and every day!!  Cheers!


Image from http://nwamotherlode.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/schools-out-for-summer.jpg

Image #2 from http://static.someecards.com/someecards/usercards/1338776063923_5400305.png

Quote image from http://i1068.photobucket.com/albums/u457/searchq7/AuthorPhotos/Section%20F/funnysummerquotes.jpg 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Eco Schools Infomercial

I'm still riding the highs of our honor award of the Eco-School award at Eagle Cove School.  (I wrote about this in my June 8th post "A Great School Lives in It's Students Forever.")


Here are 2 videos that tell a little bit more about the Eco-Schools Program:








Photo from my camera at ECS's graduation! 

Eco School's Program video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYnTmgnUmmo

Eco-Schools USA video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ONnIkERO1s

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Great School Lives In Its Students Forever

This week has been a big environmental week--both near and far, and far and wide within my heart:
  • Thursday, June 5th was World Environment Day. This is an annual United Nations Day to globally promote the importance of tending our planet.  They have a long history of spreading the message that every little action adds up to create world-wide waves that lead to change.  This year's theme is "Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level."  Check out the link to learn more about World Environment Day 2014.
  • Friday, June 6th was our last day of school at Eagle Cove School--complete with 5th grade graduation.  Typically there is glee in the hearts of students, teachers, and maybe even parents to "bring on summer!"  Yet, this year was a tad different, because it was THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL.  EVER!  The final graduation.  The end of an era.  The closing of a super, amazing, phenomenal environmental school. The Baltimore Sun wrote a very nice article about it Friday morning.   I've written about the upcoming closing many-a-times here.  The closing of a 58 year institution in our community...that time has finally arrived.  It was a beautiful day, which only added to the bittersweet-ness of the entire event.  We've had many special celebrations, both on a large & even small-scale family-front [we went canoeing off-shore of the school yesterday as a family].  We've had (& will have a few more) meals & gatherings as a staff, and a community gala event of alumni, board members, current and past families, friends, faculty, and students of the school.  The tears and tissues and memories have been many.  We will deeply miss this photogenic and authentic li'l Maryland "Green School" campus and community of ours.
  • Friday, June 6th also held another important environmental event.  Our Head of School, during the graduation ceremony, announced that yes, although our doors our closing, we not only received our 2nd four-year re-certification as a Maryland "Green School" this year, but we also were the recipients of another honor.  We also received the highest level--the international level--award issued from World Wildlife Fund/National Wildlife Federation's Eco-Schools.  62 other schools worldwide fly the flag that my "partner in green" and I are holding here.  It's definitely an odd sensation to be held in such environmental high esteem, yet to be a school that is ceasing to exist.  Such a high compliment to our program, our curriculum, and the entire culture of the school.  We could do all of that, yet despite all of that, the one thing we couldn't quite capture was financial sustainability to keep the school going forth.  Big sigh.  

As one of the graduating fifth graders wrote in his speech that he delivered on Friday:   "Do not cry for the loss, but smile because it happened." (Quote by Dr. Seuss.)  Thank you Eagle Cove School (formerly Gibson Island Country School) for happening, and for 7 amazing years of memories.  I will hold those memories of my students, my own children, and my crew of incredible ECS colleagues always dear to my heart.  May we all go forth to our new schools, spreading our wings like the eagles we're named after, and spreading what's in our hearts like 100 or so little "green" minions!  In many ways, it circles right back to the heart of the mission of World Environment Day.



World Environment Day Logo from http://www.eeaa.gov.eg/english/main/wed2014.asp

ECS School sign picture taken by Josh Hubbell

ECS Eco School Flag pic from my camera.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Goodbyes are Hard

Today in my 3rd grade class, we watched "Big Miracle"--Drew Barrymore's 2012 flick set in 1988 about 3 whales trapped in ice in Barrow, Alaska.  My kids in my class voiced yesterday that they were bummed we never watched that when we read the book "A Symphony of Whales" by Steve Schuch earlier in the year as the two are loosely related.  So today, we watched it and cheered for Fred, Wilma, and BamBam.

[Spoiler alert--both the book and the movie are phenomenal.]

Yesterday we did a scenic route walk around campus on the way to Spanish, via the greenhouse & the nature trail. We snacked on the wholesome goodness of sugar snap peas in the greenhouse. Why did we do all this? Because we could.  Because soon, we won't be able to.

Monday, the 5th graders went out on the Magothy River via canoes and spent the day, paddling away, learning about the sights and sounds they saw along the way.  Now THAT is a science class!


 Monday too, we had a graduation of sorts.  Not "the real" graduation, as that is yet ahead for our 5th graders, just a few days away.  But a commencement for the PreK--4th graders, a celebration (completee with certificates) of their years they spent at Eagle Cove School, here in our last week prior to closing after 58 years. During that semi-commencement, our Head of School spoke of our mission statement--how Eagle Cove School has been and IS a triumvirate of academic excellence, community involvement, and environmental stewardship.  She related us to "the 'greenest' school in Maryland."  It's hard to fathom, after that, that we only have 3 more days of school...ever.  It continues to beg the question over the last 5 months--how can something so good be closing??  Yet, numbers of kids and lack of enough tuition payments, over time, don't answer that question.




On Monday, smack dab in the middle of the commencement the Parents' Association whisked in to pay tribute to the teachers (all well and good if I didn't know I was still yet to give a surprise presentation to our Head.  Insert tears and "incoherent speech amidst tears" here!).  To each teacher the PA gave a print of the tree at the center of the school's driveway, with a fingerprint from each current child being a leaf on the tree.  Add in, they included a misty-eyed note on the back of a postcard with my daughter's artistic gift to our head when she learned of our closing.  There's a point when misty eyes turn into a true and total teary era, and it's somewhere between!!  It's hard to be so touched, so proud, so sad, and so feeling the loss all simultaneously.  Nowhere in my mind's eye did I think Monday would begin that way!!

So the countdown continues with Field Day and another day being the only things standing between now and graduation.  The 5th graders were mine 2 years ago.  Their speeches, no doubt, will make me both laugh and cry.

It's hard saying goodbye to someone and something you love.  Something so true and so good, and will be so missed.


Pics from:  my camera & ECS art work from Delaney  Dabrowka & Board of Trustee 
"Big Miracle" from http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMjEzNTg5MjA5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjk0MTk5Ng@@._V1_SX214_AL_.jpg

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Be Out There, Get Out There! Nature, That Is!

The window is closing over at Eagle Cove School...we are in single digits counting down the school's closing.
 Every day closer we get to our last day (which is swiftly approaching), another layer of sadness falls.  Add in, we've now had almost exactly 5 months of sadness, knowing since the first week of January that it is coming.

I am a tech teacher, and my new job for the fall is largely related to how to incorporate technology in the classroom. I am going to love it, love teaching the kids with iPads, and love how to encourage teachers how to use technology in the classroom.  I am a major fan of my iPad, smartphone, laptop, and learning on all 3.  They all are vital tools for me in becoming a lifelong learner.

And yet....

As I mentioned the other day, I've been doing a lot of homework as of late, and of course I started with those eco things that are near and dear to my heart--which sometimes counter other things that are near and dear to my heart.  One of my first articles to review was “The Whole Child: Developing Mind, Body, & Spirit through Outdoor Play”--a 12-page “fact sheet” embedded here & sponsored by the “Be Out There” Campaign of National Wildlife Federation. As the United States becomes a more “tech-centric” society, the information will only continue to be current.



By perusing the embedded document, you can see that the article begins by painting a picture of a typical day-in-the-life of the 2010 child: TV with breakfast, school with little/no recess, homework in front of the TV, texting or computer time squeezed in between activities, followed up with a less-than-healthy drive-thru dinner on the way to organized sports. Screen time (and planned time) has taken over childhood. Overtly missing are bike rides, dandelion picking, and dirt digging. Statistics from the article include:

  • “Children devote only 4-7 minutes a day of unstructured outdoor play.”
  •  “Only ¼ of children play outside daily compared to ¾ a generation ago.”
  • “Most [children] log an excess of 32 hours per week of TV time.”
  • “By the time most children attend kindergarten, they have watched more than 5, 000 hours of television.”
  • “In the last 20 years, childhood obesity rates have more than doubled.”
  • The CDC now estimates that 4.5 million children aged 5-17 have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.”

Given these statistics and the fact that children are highly out of shape, organizations such as the NWF, the Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” program are trying to pair children more with nature (in an unstructured way) in order to increase children’s overall physical activity. This becomes increasingly important as more and more schools are reducing recess time (or eliminating it all together). Additionally, “indoor-only” kids have a higher risk of serious health problems including obesity, vision problems (more cases of myopia), vitamin D deficiency, and diabetes. By spending time outdoors, there are significant mind, body, and spirit benefits for children. By taking advantage of nature, children: have increased imagination, are better able to problem solve (and do better on standardized tests), more calm and able to cope with stress, have stronger social bonds, are more compassionate (and possibly happier), have stronger bones and immunity due to greater levels of Vitamin D, and overall healthier!

Of course, it does make me sad, as we at Eagle Cove School embody the page 5 quote by Sheila Franklin.  And yet, we're closing.

All that aside, tis Fact Sheet does an excellent job of providing some eye opening statistics (with too many to list here). Educators and parents should walk away from this article knowing what needs to be done—turn off the tech, and kick the kids outside!! Part of what makes a child ready for learning is a healthy mind brought about by a healthy body. Kids who don’t move (and particularly, it would seem, boys) end up having a higher percentage of behavior problems in school because they haven’t gotten their wiggles out enough to concentrate. Getting outdoors would help them have much higher level of achievement. Additionally, “outdoor kids” tend to see things differently than “indoor kids.” They suffer less incidences of nearsightedness (which has been on the rise over time, due perhaps to up-close screen reading. The other benefits are strong (see above). Additionally, with antidepressant medication on the rise for not only adults but also children (even preschool kids aged 0-5!), one could argue that getting outdoors and having access to free time could also help counter mental health problems. Two of the 12 pages of the Fact Sheet list ideas for caregivers, health care providers, community leaders, and educators as to how to incorporate outdoor activities into the lives of children. In addition to these resources, there are also listings of the numbers of calories burned for approximately 50 outdoor activities.

The Fact Sheet was ripe with a bounty of information for educators and parents, and it falls in the category of “Things Everyone In America Should Read!” There is no argument that there are many benefits in education with both television and technology, yet one should not overlook the ability to learn by what surrounds outdoors. Children today need to be trained how to find the balance. As parents and educators, it is our jobs to help show them how.

Back to me:  My new job ahead has a lot of potential and it will be a great organization to be a part of.  Yet, it has yet to become a Maryland "Green" School...almost hard to imagine when I am leaving an 8 year MD "Green" School.  I think I see some of my homework ahead--not only planning some amazing iPad activities for students & teachers alike, but I see a "Green" School certification needed for the future!!  And I refocus my vision, and "re-see" my own and my children's need to turn off the tech and get ourselves outsides!!

Images from 
Blue boat picture of our campus from my campus, my phone, & InstaFramePro
MD Green School:  http://www.maeoe.org/images/green_school_badge.gif
NWF logo from  http://www.nwf.org/~/media/Content/Logos/NWF/download/web/NWF_Logo_VERTICAL-Green_275x300.ashx
Let's Move logo:  http://www.letsmove.gov/sites/all/themes/letsmove/images/letsmovelogo.gif

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Plastic Just Continues to Rear It's Ugly Head

Here at the end of the school year, we are beginning to close up shop. 2014 definitely has been weird with the knowledge that our school is closing at the end of the school year (which is really coming up), months of job hunting (and finally landing), taking 2 continuing education classes for my reinstating my teaching certificate...all the while still doing the day job (and the home job).

One of the jobs in my college-level classes has been to do 2 article reviews on issues of health, safety, and nutrition for the young child.  Of course, where would this girl go?  The environmental route.  
[Playful aside:  The 4th grade teacher told me last week that one of her fellas--who I had last year--wrote in his ECS memoirs: "In 3rd grade I had Mrs. D. She was a good teacher and I learned a lot. She was a tad more eco-friendly than my liking, but I learned to cope."  But, if you've been following along with Green Team Gazette for any period of time, you already knew that, and have already learned to cope with that yourself!  ]
The article “Plastics & Plastic Toys” is from a June 2012 Eco-Healthy Child Care® publication. Eco-Healthy Child Care is part of the Children’s Environmental Health Network and is concerned with helping to create environments that are not only eco-friendly but also health-focused. They are particularly interested in reducing every child’s exposure to toxic and harmful chemicals. The focus on this 2-page info sheet is the health effects for children exposed to plastics in toys, bottles, teething rings, etc. 

The gyst:  This article discusses the negative impacts of plastics: particularly phthalate and Bisphenol A (BPA) which are two toxic ingredients in plastics. Given that children’s young and still-developing bodies are so small, the effects (of even minimal amounts of these substances) have a greater impact on young children than adults—yet the two are toxic to adults as well. Additionally, children have a very “hand to mouth” nature, further increasing the chance of ingesting these chemicals. Phthalates are found in soft plastics (including PVC), and they are added to the fragrances, solvents, or fixatives in many bathroom products/beauty items. They can be inhaled through usage, absorbed through skin, ingested when chewing on toys/bottles. Research has shown they can be responsible for “hormone disruption, developmental and reproductive problems, asthma, preterm birth, low sperm count, undescended testes, genital malformations, premature puberty, and development of some cancers.” 

 BPA also disrupts hormones, and it is used more when making hard clear plastic items (baby bottles, canned food liners, water bottles). Exposure comes in many of the same ways as phthalates, as well as from eating food housed in these types of containers. Negative health effects “include prostate cancer, breast cancer, miscarriages, birth defects, early puberty, low sperm count, hyperactivity and aggressiveness.” The article goes on to discuss how important it is to look at the recycling codes, and to definitely avoid any plastics listed with #3, #6, and #7 as these are the most harmful types of plastics of any of the coded plastic types.
One of the statistics in the article was eye-opening: “Traces of BPA can be found in more than 90% of the U.S. population.” Given this statistic, it would seem our country is slowly plasticizing itself through the current fast food, pre-packaged dining society. It is valuable for parents to be aware that convenience does not always equate to healthiness. The article lists three additional websites that are good resources to learn more about the toxicity of plastics. It also has a list of ten tips for safer use of plastics. If all parents, teachers, child care providers had access to this list on their refrigerator, people would be able to make healthier food-related choices when it comes to plastic.
Through its evolution through time, plastics have been known to be very helpful to our world: medically, economically, and also for convenience. Yet, as more research is being done since the inception of Tupperware, there are also many findings that there are severe health risks hidden in the clear veneer of plastic. Susan Freinkel’s book “Plastic: A Toxic Love Story” would be a good read for anyone who wanted to take an in-depth look on how plastics have worked wonders in the medical field, yet our over-reliance on it in the house could be leading to a plastic-saturated nation. Based on newer data than the Eco-Health Child Care article, scientists are beginning to find that even non-BPA or PVC-free plastic wraps may be equally as bad for you. By discarding any plastic food containers with scratches (which indicates the plastic is leaching off the container), eating fresh produce, and not microwaving food/drinks/baby bottles in any plastic containers, people can begin to improve their own health and that of their children. Likewise, as parents, let your purchases (and dollars) being a sign of what you (as a consumer) value. By doing that, product availability and production may change.


Pics from:

Screen Shot of the Plastics & Plastic Toys article from  http://www.cehn.org/files/Plastics_Plastic_Toys_7_12.pdf



Sunday, May 25, 2014

3rd Graders "Paint" the Bay Bridge

It could be almost akin to a sensory taste sensation better than the Doublemint Twins or a Recess Peanut Butter Cup.  Last week we had a 2-day field trip-palooza with our 3rd graders.  First we had the Oyster Release trip on Tuesday, then on Wednesday we had our annual trip to Sandy Point State Park to "paint" the Chesapeake Bay Bridge--complete with beach clean up.  (No kids were injured during the painting of the bridge, rest assured!)   Here's a li'l iMovie montage of the pics of the day!

 
ECS 3rd Graders "Paint" The Bridge from Vicki Dabrowka on Vimeo.

2 great annual field trips that we've taken the last 7 years. Boy oh boy, I'll miss them next year.  Although this beach is always pretty freshly combed and clean, I did notice that this year we found far more trash than ever before (plastic little straws, lids, cheese wrappers and more).  A telling tale of the times.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Celebrating Rachel Carson Through her eBooks

Rachel Carson was a woman ahead of her time.  An environmentalist who's voice started being heard in the late 1930's for the next quarter of a century.  As a writer, scientist, and nature-lover, Rachel wrote several articles and then later books. She is perhaps most known from her 1962 book Silent Spring.  This book became an ecological pivotal point for how harmful pesticides were for our planet.  Here is a brief video created by Open Road Media honoring Rachel Carson.



Three of Rachel's books are at the forefront of an environmental movement this week:  May 20th--27th.  The 3 books are:  Under the Sea-wind (1941), The Sea Around Us (1952), and The Sense of Wonder (1964).  With the partnership between EarthDay Network and Open Road Media, you can purchase one of these 3 eBooks by Rachel Carson.  In doing so between May 20th and 27th, 2014, Earth Day Network will donate $1 to continue Rachel Carson's efforts.  EBooks can be purchased through Amazon.com, iTunes, Kobo, or Barnes & Noble.  Click here for more information

Unfortunately, Rachel Carson died at only 57 years old, yet her words can still teach.  To learn more about Rachel Carson, check out her website or more about her from Open Road Media.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Save the Oyster, Save the Bay, Save the Memories

As the middle of May starts making its way to the end of the month, it's traditional for some super culminating trips to make their way into my 3rd Grade, Eagle Cove School calendar.   

Chesapeake Bay Foundation - Saving a National TreasureThis week, as luck and the calendar would have it, two of our eco-favorite trips landed right back to back. Here's an iMovie musical montage of our class' pictures our from Tuesday's Oyster Release trip with Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  Captain Foster & Miss Tiffany treated us to an educational day on the Magothy River.  Like old friends, they come right up to the dock each year with their boat, The Maurguerite.  From there, we take off on our floating classroom to return the oyster spat (that we have been raising all year) to the perfect spot in the river--one with the proper oxygen levels, clarity, salination, and more for our oysters to survive and thrive.  

Every year, it ranks in my mind as "best trip ev-ah!"  This year did not disappoint.  It was made extra special and bittersweet as I was on the boat, thinking about this as being our last trip, given the school's closing this June.  When you realize that something wonderful is going away, you take a little extra time to cherish it.  That's what I did, midst idyllic weather on Tuesday, snapping pictures galore to lock it in.  May the movie help my memory, and delight yours.


ECS Oyster Release on the Magothy River 5/20/2014 from Vicki Dabrowka on Vimeo.


Video created in iMovie, uploaded to Vimeo, using my snapshots of the day.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation logo from http://www.cbf.org/

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Blast From the Past: May Green Team Gazette Newsletters

A triumvirate of May Day specials with the May Green Team Gazettes from 2009, 2010, 2011.  Some eco facts and figures are always in bloom and always in season, no matter what year it is!!




Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

To all the mothers out there (whether you are biological moms, adopted moms, moms-to-be, moms-by-heart, role mom-models, aunts, coaches, teachers, neighbors, sisters, caregivers, or friends)... May your day be as special & beautiful as you are!

To our planetary mom, Mother Nature, this one is for you, made with the Haiku app from "Read Write Think."


Pic from my camera of the Chesapeake Bay; Haiku formate created with the Haiku iPad app.

Friday, May 9, 2014

An Annual Tradition

No....it's not the running of the bulls.

Nope...not the NFL Draft (though that HAS over-taken my television tonight).

Not the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, the Kentucky Derby, Thanksgiving, OR Christmas.

But it is one of my favorite annual traditions, in the season of many favorite traditions.

'Tis the season for the Earth Heroes to appear. For the 4th Season in a row, Eco Heroes have been read about, studied, researched,written about, and creatively reinvented. This year the stories were written on the iPad App Scribble Press.

It's the time of the year that my kids come to know what people like David Suzuki, Jacques Cousteau, David Suzuki, Wangari Maathai and Eugenie Clark all have in common. They are Earth Heroes.  And it helps to build stronger 3rd grade Earth Heroes every year we study them!


Photo collage using InstaFrame Pro app and pics of my students' creations.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Speaking for Nature Through the Camera's Lens

It's a "Pictures Speak 1000 Words" kind of day....so I'll let the pictures do what the pictures do.

Pictures of my past week out in the outdoors:



 


Pictures from my vantage point this week.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Earth Week Day 3: Once Upon a Time...

Once upon a time, there was a little school on the shores of the Magothy River, with a great view of the Chesapeake Bay. Although, in reality, it was a little white and gray school yet it truly was seen more as a little green school.  A Maryland "Green" School.  And, during one week in April (a week, in fact, right around Earth Day), it  becomes greener than ever, for a week.  A week we like to call "Earth Week."  It is during this week that we hang out with "green" authors, sing "green" songs, do a plethora of "green" activities, and even put on a "green" show.  This year, Eagle Cove School's last year, is no difference. The creative genius of our science teacher and our music teacher were at it again for this sixth (and final) theatrical season.

This year's play centered on around 3 somewhat fractured fairy tales, that got a very green slant.  3 familiar stories, each with dashing young princes and "fair" fairy princesses to be rescued.  Each story centered around 3 familiar environmental themes:  reduce, reuse, recycle.  


Since you couldn't be there, and it seems like the "made for TV movie" might not be happening for awhile, here are the run downs:

Act 1, Scene 1:  Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger in the royal forest on some royally gross trash that has been left lying about. After consulting the Big Book of Fairy Tales, there are only 2 solutions:  a kiss from a royal prince, or (when reading the fine print--everybody loves fine print) "disposing of the enchanted glass properly."  The Prince goes off in quest to find out what exactly that means, and runs into 2 merchants at a crossroads:  one is the manager of the local dump, and one is the manager of the nearby recycling center.  The two explain what their version of "disposal" means, and The Prince opts for Door #2:  The blue bin and recycling.  This breaks the spell cast by the enchanted pollution, and the forest is cleaned.  Long live recycling!  (Insert royal trumpets here.)

Act 2, Scene 1:  Rapunzel
Rapunzel is high up in the forest tower when Prince #2 comes dashingly walking by.  Rapunzel shares her sad, sorrowful tale of being dropped in the tower by the wicked witch, who daily brings her lunch in plastic grocery bags that Rapunzel pulls up on a little drop rope with a hook.  So all that's left for poor Rapunzel is a towerful of bags.  The Prince has a flash of brilliance and recommends that Rapunzel braids the bags into a rope so he can come up and rescue her from her prison.  So, she builds a rope, drops it, and is about to be rescued when the witch re-arrives, seeing the near escape.  Foiled for another day, Rapunzel and The Prince plan to save up bags and set the plan back in action.  Which is all very good... until the Witch comes back the next day with....oh no!  A reusable bag!!  Rapunzel didn't see that one coming, and the Witch leaves stating "Even The Witch gets to win sometimes!"   Long live reusing!  (Insert royal trumpets here.)

Act 3, Scene 1:  Snow White
We enter into the castle seeing Snow White under a royal spell, surrounded by two poor distraught dwarfs,  Happy & Grumpy.  We also see that Snow White has quite a thing for her electronics:  TV is on, music is a-playing, lights are a-blazing.  It's a technology wonderland!  Prince #3 comes into the scene and surveys the very bright yet somber situation, and the Big Book of Fairy Tales comes back out.  Again, there are 2 possible situations for breaking the spell:  that kissing business, or "do something to save energy."  Again, the Prince opts for door #2 and goes off on a quest for how to save energy.  Well, the light bulb clicks on for The Prince (with a little help from the Fairy Green Father), and he heads back and starts flicking off switches.  This promptly awakens Snow White...which makes both Happy and Grumpy a bit happier.  Unfortunately, it is much to Snow White's chagrin, who feels she looks much better in bright light and needs all her "stuff" on.  So, in her dash to go turn it all on, she finds herself right back under the spell, down and out and in the same predicament.  Happy & Grumpy shrug it off, coming to the conclusion that perhaps it's better having Snow White in this state after, given her personality.  Long live reducing energy!  (Insert royal trumpets here.)

To take a little peek at some of the past ECS Earth Week productions of Decker-Vernon, click where you can below.  Past play remixes include:  
"The Lorax," 2010


Pics from our ECS Play, center picture our play program created by two of our 5th graders (with a slight homonymal oversight).



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Earth Week Day 2: Animals Abound!

Earth Day Tuesday had some nice "eco" treats at Eagle Cove School for Earth Week--of the animal kind.  For my 3rd graders, it started out with Animal Rehabilitator Kathy Woods and "The Critter Dude" Walter Massey.  Both work as animal rescuers (or rehabilitators) for the Phoenix Wildlife Center, Inc in Phoenix, Maryland. They brought some of their rescue friends to share with our ECS friends.

In addition to seeing boxed turtles, a toad, and a Great Horned Owl (with some of the younger students seeing even a few more critters), Mr. Walt and Ms. Kathy taught us some interesting Earth Day animal facts. (I was furiously typing away in the Notes app on my phone to get them all!):

  • You can tell the difference between male and female box turtles in 2 ways--their eyes and their shell bottom.  Males have red eyes and a dented bottom shell, females have brown eyes & a flat shell bottom.  The song "Brown Eyed Girl" can help you remember that one!
  • Boxed turtles can live to 100--125 years old...yet another reason why they won't make good pets by bringing them in out of nature (one, it's not where they're meant to live, and secondly: they'll outlive you!)
  • Turtles can indeed flip themselves over if they get stuck on their back.  (They literally "use their head!")
  • Toads can be distinguished from frogs because they live on land (not near water), are bumpy (not smooth), and hop (versus jump longer distances).  
  • When you listen to toads, you can hear the gender in that the females are quiet and the boys make noise.  Additionally, the males have black (not white chins)
  • Toads push food down their throat with their eyeballs (so you can actually "see" them swallow).
  • Great Horned Owls don't build a next but time share with hawk.  The one they brought had to be rehabilitated because it had "metabolic bone disease" due to it's owner feeding it hamburger, which doesn't have near the nutrients the owl needed.  
  • The Great Horned Owl they brought with them weighed 4-5 pounds.
  • Owls make no sound when they fly due to having serrated feathers.
  • An owl can hear a mouse two feet under the snow (without even seeing it).
  • A person can turn their head 90 degrees, whereas an owl can turn their head 270 degrees (not quite full circle!)
  • Owl eyes can't move like ours, but they can dilate their eyes separately.
  • Due to its 70% binocular vision, an owl can't always see what's next to him.  Therefore, when a person throws an apple core out the window (thinking it is biodegradable, so why not), it's still dangerous because a mouse might go for that, and then an owl will zoom in on the mouse--without seeing the oncoming vehicle.  Many owls that wind up in rehabilitation centers do so because of this very situation and getting hit by a car.
  • Owls are "nocturnal" since they are nighttime hunters.  Day time hunters are called "diurnal."

The second half of our morning was with an annual ECS Earth Week friend:  children's book author Jennifer Keats Curtis.  As a Maryland-native, Jennifer loves writing about the animals and environment of her home state.  As she was sharing some of her latest projects and books (see the photo below for 12 of her picture books she's written), and some of her experiences, we learned some goodies:
  • The Baltimore Checkerspot, a butterfly, is our state insect, in part because it resembles our state flag.  Unfortunately it is endangered due to the decreasing numbers of what it eats (turtle head).
  • Salamanders lay eggs in vernal pools (which are temporary ponds left behind from heavy rains).  Looking like a jelly-like glob in hand, pictures showed us that under the microscope you could see the baby salamanders hatching out one at a time out of each little egg when the timing was right.
  • Since fishing line is so dangerous to marine life, Berkley Fishing line has a strong conservation division where you can order recycle kits to safely get rid of your own fishing line.
  • Kathy Woods (mentioned above) is her hero, and the inspiration behind her "Animal Helpers" series.
  • In Jennifer's eyes, an animal rehabilitator is part-animal helper, part detective.  Not surprising when they need 6 years of schooling and numerous licenses to do the job they do.  You need to know a lot about a lot of critters--especially since they come to animal rescuers at all ages and stages of their life!!

All our visitors were amazing, and obviously eager to come to visit schools.  If you are in the Maryland area and want to learn more about having any of these 3 individuals come to your school, check out the following links:

Photos from our day, with the exception of the books & the oval circle picture of Jennifer Keats Curtis, which were from her website (see above link).  (Collage made using the InstaFrame Pro app)



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Earth Day: #GlobalSelfie Style


Today was a full day on every side, so I will have to share all of my goodies for our Eagle Cove School "Tuesday of Earth Week" tomorrow.  But, as an environmental education blogger, you can't really let Earth Day go by with a tribute.

Here are 2 of our backyard #GlobalSelfie pics taken for NASA's Earth Day mosaic they are going to create.



To download your own #EarthDay "selfie sign," go to NASA's #GlobalSelfie website. It's also a great place to learn even more!!

To see a brief overview, here's the info from the NASA site:
"What's a #GlobalSelfie?  NASA astronauts brought home the first ever images of the whole planet from space. Now NASA satellites capture new images of Earth every second. For Earth Day we are trying to create an image of Earth from the ground up while also fostering a collection of portraits of the people of Earth. Once those pictures stream around the world on Earth Day, the individual pictures tagged #GlobalSelfie will be used to create a mosaic image of Earth -- a new "Blue Marble" built bit by bit with your photos."
"Need an idea of what kind of picture to take? Get outside and show us mountains, parks, the sky, rivers, lakes -- wherever you are, there's your picture. Tell us where you are in a sign, words written in the sand, spelled out with rocks -- or by using the printable signs we've created...The Earth mosaic image itself and a video using the images will be put together and released in May....We'll be monitoring photos posted to five social media sites: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and Flickr.   Post your photo to Twitter, Instagram or Google+ using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie, or post it to the #GlobalSelfie event page on Facebook or the #GlobalSelfie group on Flickr. You can also join the #GlobalSelfie Google+ event page."

Pictures from my camera & embellished with the InstaFrame Pro app