Archive for September, 2011

Energy 101

Before you can teach about energy conservation, or saving energy, or fossil fuels, or renewable energy, kids have to know what energy is! Try this activity with students to help them identify energy in their daily lives.

Even if they can’t define it yet, students have probably heard the word before. Start by asking students when they use energy, and then drawing or listing all the examples they can think of. Share the examples with the class.

Once all students have shared, define energy for students as “the ability to do work” or the power that makes actions happen. On the board, link an energy source to an action with an arrow. In the above drawing, the sun gives the energy so the plant will grow (growth is an action).

As another example, ask students what the energy source is for a moving bicycle. Show the relation between legs pedaling and the bike moving with an arrow between them. Legs pedaling gives the energy so the bike moves (the bike moving is an action).

Have students draw their own examples of energy source, then an arrow, then the outcome. Practice speaking or sentence writing using the stem “________________ gives the energy so the ________________.” When finished, share examples among partners.

This activity will help students start to see how omnipresent energy is, preparing them for later study of energy conservation.

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Will you see an American Kestrel on Sunday?

This weekend, check out Raptor Fest at Prospect Park, held from 12pm to 3pm on Sunday, October 2nd. This event, run by the Urban Park Rangers and the Prospect Park Alliance, will feature “majestic raptors.” The event organizers promise that “Hawks, falcons, owls and other birds of prey will be on hand for flight demonstrations and more!”

Sounds like a lot of fun. For more details, follow this link to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation’s website or call (718) 287-3400, extension 102.

What better way to kick off October (migration season) than with some awe inspiring birds?

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Learn all about teeth and jaws with the Evi'dents case

Brooklyn Children’s Museum offers many opportunities to bring the museum experience into your classroom. You can rent a kit from the museum (with or without an educator) to supplement the curriculum you’re teaching. Each kit comes with an educator’s guide and some amazing objects from Brooklyn Children’s Museum’s collection.

The full list of portable museum cases is available on Brooklyn Children’s Museum’s website. There, you can find information on the 32 different kits, teachers guides you can download, and information on how to order the museum experience.

Two of the most relevant cases for early childhood environmental study are:

  • Urban Naturalist (grades K-5): full of animal and plant specimens native to New York City. Look at a squirrel, examine leaves, and listen to bird calls with this kit. Click here for the full teacher’s guide to get a preview of the case.
  • Butterflies (grades PK-4): Examine 36 different butterfly specimens, see the butterfly life cycle, and learn the difference between a butterfly and a moth. Click here for the full teacher’s guide to get a preview of the case.

Teachers with older students might also be interested in Land Birds of New York or Insects.

Portable collections are a great way to get museum-quality objects inside your classroom. Which kit will you rent?

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So, you’ve introduced worms to your classroom and you know what composting is. Here are some resources to help you implement composting in your classroom or school garden.

Checking out worms at the Brooklyn Children's Museum's indoor worm bin

The Department of Sanitation’s NYC Compost Project provides some incredible resources for composting. Here are some highlights:

  • Free “worm”shops for NYC teachers
  • Classroom workshops for grades 1-8: a representative from the local compost demonstration center will come to your classroom and demonstrate composting, with live worms included
  • Field trips for students: visit your borough’s compost demonstration site
  • Service learning opportunities: contribute to compost projects in your community
  • Low-cost starter worm bins and red wiggler worms at cost (for $55, or a discounted $44 if you complete a “worm”shop)
  • Other websites for composting education (we will be featuring a few of these on the blog soon!)

Starting a worm bin or outdoor composting site may seem like a lot of work, but with all these resources, it should be much easier… Happy Composting!

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So, you’ve got worms down – let’s turn to composting.

First of all: what is it? Composting is the process of taking unwanted organic material, allowing it to decompose, and then using the decomposed soil as a great fertilizer for your garden or farm. The idea is to take unwanted items — a rotten tomato, a banana peel — that would otherwise end up in a landfill and put it to productive use. In other words, composting helps take waste and use it to create great soil, which will then be used to grow new food.

To make this work, you have to be careful about what organic material is used: no animal or dairy products!!! You can compost plant parts, including fruits and vegetables, as well as some unusual materials, like eggshells and newspaper. Basically, the materials are all “greens” or “browns” and you can use this complete list from New York City’s Department of Sanitation for reference.

If you decide to compost at home or at school, you will want to read a book or two on the subject. Check out Let it Rot!: The Gardener’s Guide to Composting by Stu Campbell. This book, in print for 30+ years, will teach you everything you need to get started and create great compost for your farm or garden.

Now what? There will be posts later this week and next month on:

  • The NYC Compost Project
  • Composting with Kids
  • Composting as Sustainable Practice
  • Decomposition in the Classroom

Are you excited about compost yet?

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It’s almost the end of September and you’ve got your rules and routines in place in your classroom. What’s next? Planning a great field trip to get kids engaged in learning at a local park, zoo, or museum, for a different experience than the one they get in class!

Starting a school program in World Brooklyn

To help you plan, we would like to announce the 2011-2012 schedule of school programs at Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Programs are available for grades PK-8, focusing on either science or culture. The full list is available on our website, including instructions on how to register and cost.

Here are some highlighted programs for environmental and sustainable education:

  • Habitat Brooklyn: Amazing Arthropods (grades PK-1) — explore the amazing body structure of joint-legged creatures known as arthropods. Students conduct hands-on investigations of objects from the Museum’s collection and live specimens such as crabs, Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches, crickets, and more in the Neighborhood Nature exhibit.
  • Habitat Brooklyn: Urban Botanist (grades 2-4) — Leaves that ooze sticky glue, leaves that prick, leaves that snap shut or shy away from your touch — visit the museum greenhouse to learn about weird and wonderful ways plants have adapted to their environments. Learn what plants and animals need to grow and thrive, and build a snail habitat in the museum garden.
  • Habitat Brooklyn: Critter Comebacks (grades 5-6) — Wildlife is forced out of cities all the time, but with careful intervention, some species are starting to stage stunning comebacks in New York City.  Flex your advocacy and citizenship skills as you learn to protect salt marsh ecosystems, peregrine falcons, or horseshoe crabs.
  • Forces in Action: It’s Easy Being Green (grades 5+) — Get the inside scoop on how the first LEED-certified museum in NYC helps save energy and water. Students will enjoy an interactive scavenger hunt and activities where they learn that little steps can lead to a big difference for our environment. This program can easily be done with older students; we have had multiple high school groups come to learn about the Museum’s sustainable building.

Check out the full list of programs. We hope to see you this year at Brooklyn Children’s Museum!

Come and check out the museum! You can find us at the corner of St. Marks Ave and Brooklyn Ave in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

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This is a surprise post for any middle school teachers out there. The NY Hall of Science is releasing a new curriculum for middle school called My Carbon Footprint. To launch the curriculum, they are holding a free professional development session on Saturday, November 5th.

NY Hall of Science says: “As part of this exciting professional development workshop, you will receive a copy of the My Carbon Footprint curriculum, a one-year educator membership to NYSCI, and access to new online resources. During the workshop, you will have the chance to participate in activities from the curriculum, and have an opportunity to make connections between global climate change and topics you already teach.”

For more details and to sign up, go to their website: http://www.nysci.org/learn/education/teachers/mycarbonfootprint

Please share this resource with any middle school teachers you know – it sounds like a great workshop.

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