World Water Monitoring Challenge 2013

More and more, students are leading the efforts to protect their local environment. Living in a world shrunken by technology, they have a better understanding of the interdependence of important natural resources in a larger, global setting.

citizen science

Each year between March 22 until December 31, the World Water Monitoring Challenge presents an important opportunity for young people around the world to become involved in safeguarding natural resources on a local, national and international scale. Students learn more about the watersheds in which they live, how watersheds work, and how protecting their waters can have beneficial impacts downstream. Teachers and students often use their data to discuss impacts in their local watershed and compare their findings with others.

This hands-on challenge builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies. With an easy-to-use test kit, citizen scientists sample their selected waterway for four basic indicators of water quality—dissolved oxygen, pH (acidity), temperature and turbidity (clarity).

We will be participating again this fall.  I invite you to join us in this global monitoring effort.  Resources are available to help you. Click here for guides and lesson plans tointegrate this citizen science opportunity into your science curriculum.

Washed Ashore – Art to Save the Sea

Plastic is forever!  It does not biodegrade, but instead breaks down to the size of plankton.  Rotating ocean currents or gyres are pulling in plastic garbage from every continent in the world and churning it into bite-size pieces.  This debris confuses marine species and litters beaches, even in pristine remote locations.  Can art be used to save the sea?washed ashore

We recently took part in a community art workshop held each Saturday at Art 101 in Bandon.  Community members, local schools, and state parks work together to gather plastic pollution off of beaches.  Through the Washed Ashore Project, the plastics are washed, sorted, drilled, cut, and processed into art supplies.   Lead Artist and Director Angela Haseltine Pozzi leads the community in creating large-scale sculptures of the very sea life that is threatened by marine debris.

Washed Ashore ArtA few facts we gathered from the gallery at Washed Ashore:

  • Over 200 billion pounds of plastic are produced worldwide each year, and it is estimated that only 4-7% of it is recycled.
  • Plastic pollution now affects at least 267 species world-wide.
  • 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die annually from entanglement.
  • 80% of marine debris comes from land via streets, storm drains, and rivers.
  • Americans use ~1 billion disposable shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of waste each year.

In our family, we make a concerned effort to reduce our use of plastics.  I’ll be sharing the steps we have taken in a post next month.

Dedication and Passion

When Sweetie started fly tying earlier this year, she learned of a scholarship opportunity to attend Fish Camp. She expressed interest in going to camp and talked of it frequently. Under the tutelage of experts, the young anglers learn the fundamentals of casting, fly fishing techniques, advanced fly tying, and outdoor skills through an award winning summer fly fishing camp located in Northern California. Surrounded by miles of private stream and fish-filled lakes that provide the ideal fresh-air classroom, the kids have a blast catching (and releasing) lots of trout on flies they tied themselves.

She thereby wrote two essays as a part of the application process and begged to go even if she didn’t win a scholarship. Yesterday, she received a call from one of the volunteers on the selection committee announcing that she had been selected. Knowing that she would be taking part in the fly fishing expo today along side her mentors, she was very excited; I doubt she slept much.

She has shared her winning essays on her blog. I encourage you to hop over and read about what she enjoys most about fly fishing and why she wants to go to camp.  She is pictured here with one of the local fly fishers and with another young angler who was also selected as a scholarship winner.

Scandinavian Themed Tree for Charity Event

This is the second year in which we have donated a thematically decorated tree for a local charity event. This year, we wanted to commemorate our tour of Scandinavia in 2011 – selecting ornaments that are traditional to the countries of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.  


As handcrafted ornaments are traditional in Scandinavia, we chose to select something to represent each country.  Scherenschnitte snowflakes for Denmark in honor of Hans Christian Andersen. Woven paper heart baskets for Norway.  Pepperkaker, or Swedish ginger cookie ornaments, for Sweden.  
This is one of three handcrafted, wooden stars on the tree to symbolize the flags of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Originally I had wanted to decorate three smaller trees – adorning the top of each with the star – but a large 7′ tree was given to me so I changed plans.
The flags of the three countries are also represented in a garland. Sadly, I had tried to make pepperkaker ornaments but I rolled the dough too thin and they all broke. Fortunately, we also used straw ornaments and crocheted snowflakes so there was enough variety.  

The tree will be auctioned off on Saturday evening.  I am excited to see how much money it brings – I may even have to bid on it myself! 🙂


International Day of Peace 2012

The Roots & Shoots tradition is to celebrate the Day of Peace with with signature Giant Peace Dove Puppets, which have “flown” by young people and the young at heart in cities, towns, and villages near and far. As Dr. Jane says, “With these humble creations made out of reused materials, we remind everyone that peace is possible. We celebrate all that is free and noble in the human spirit. And we celebrate all that so many people have done throughout the year—and will do next year—to create a better world.”

Following Dr. Jane’s lead as a UN Messenger of Peace, members and friends of Roots & Shoots are called each year to celebrate peace in honor of United Nations International Day of Peace.  We participated for the third consecutive year.

So, what is International Day of Peace? Per General Assembly resolution 36/67 and 55/282, the United Nations has declared this day as a day devoted to strengthening ideals of peace among people and nations. Officially the UN calls member states (countries recognized by the UN) to recognize the day with a global ceasefire. That means that all of the countries, if they are actively fighting, are asked to put down their weapons for a day in the name of peace. Around the world, recognizing the day can happen in so many ways.

Would you like to build a Giant Peace Dove of your own?  Follow this link for instructions … Create a Giant Peace Dove Puppet .  Consider sharing pictures (or a link thereof) of your dove with us in the comments.

World Water Quality Monitoring Project

 Science and Service Learning have long been seamlessly intertwined in my life since I started teaching full-time.  Though I am no longer in a formal classroom, the two share an even larger part of my life.  Hands-on, real-life science comes naturally to me.  It is a major component of our daily living and learning.  We seek out opportunities to put our skills to work and to learn about the world around us in a natural way.  This is Unschooling at its finest.
wwmprojectOur Roots & Shoots group has been taking part in a great service learning opportunity called the World Water Monitoring Project for the past few years.  The international education and outreach program builds awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens in basic monitoring of local water bodies.
Upon learning how to collect water quality data with our group, the kiddos asked if we could purchase our own.  The cost of a Basic Kit (shipped to any location in the US) is just $13 plus shipping. At this price – I couldn’t pass it up!  We now carry the kit with us on all our nature outings and it has provided us the necessary tools to engage in meaningful, hands-on science.  I supplement the kit with other tools that I have used for years – including a Kestrel 3000 Pocket Wind Meter – a handheld weather-monitoring device that provides a wide range of functions.
projectwwm
We also make every effort to identify the little critters we capture in our nets.  Sometimes this is easier said than done, but dichotomous keys are helpful and we carry a few laminated ones with us.  We record our findings in a Rite In The Rain Journal.  When we return home, we upload our data to the  World Water Monitoring Project and if we’ve spotted critters, we upload images to Project Noah.

Our outings are more meaningful when we know that our data will be used to help the scientific community better understand our world.