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Archive for January, 2012

We have exciting news: our Green Threads exhibits are open and ready for business!

This blog is part of a large, sustainability project here at Brooklyn Children’s Museum. In addition to Teach Green in Brooklyn and My Green Community, our education department has been hard at work on public and school programs about sustainability. In addition, we have been hard at work on new exhibits about sustainability.

The first exhibit is the Green Tour in our lobby. The kiosk features information about the other exhibits, sustainability at Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and other web-based resources.

The other five exhibits explain bamboo floors, geothermal energy, recycling, solar energy, and water conservation. Check back over the next two weeks for information about each new exhibit.

And don’t forget to come to Brooklyn Children’s Museum to see them for yourself!

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Are you interested in teaching kids more about food, gardening, and cooking at your school? One option is to become an Edible Schoolyard site. The program, started by Alice Waters, turns open space at schools into gardens, and then teaches the students at the school about growing, cooking, and eating food on site.

What can your students learn by growing and eating fresh food like these tomatoes?

So far, Edible Schoolyard has one location in NYC: PS 216, right here in Brooklyn. But they are looking to expand, and plan to have one school in each borough next school year.

That’s where you come in. If you work at a public school located in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens or Staten Island, you could apply. Your school must serve, at a minimum, kindergarten through fifth grade and be a Title I school. Accepted schools receive tons of help and resources to turn their available space into a teaching garden.

For more information about the program and to apply, go to Edible Schoolyard NYC’s website. Applications are due by February 28, 2012- good luck!

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Are you looking for ways to re-invigorate your teaching? There are lots of great options for professional development this winter! Check out these workshops that will help you add a sustainable focus to your classroom:

Environmental Explorations NYC at Van Cortlandt Park

This program uses hands-on activities to bring NYC’s local outdoor resources and nature into the classroom and enhance classroom learning. Materials covered include Project WILD, Project WET, Project Learning Tree and more, in addition to introducing teachers to local environmental resources. Teachers will be provided with new strategies for introducing environmental topics in connection with math, literacy, and art, fostering student leadership and developing higher order thinking skills.

The program is from February 20 to February 25, 2012. To register, visit the After School Professional Development’s website at http://schools.nyc.gov/Teachers/aspdp and view their spring course catalog. With questions, contact Sara Kempton, Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, 718-601-1553 or sara@vancortlandt.org.

Creative Infusion: The Art of Reuse at Materials for the Arts

Materials for the Arts is an amazing warehouse of art supplies in Queens. This course, which offers P-credits, gives you access to the warehouse and teaches you how to problem solve through reuse and how to create games, books, costumes and sets, puppets, and mosaics. The course incorporates literacy and math into activities. The program takes place over 6 Saturdays. For details and information about registration and fees, check out their website.

Other opportunities:

Do you know of any other great professional development for teachers in New York City?

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If you have been teaching about waste management and would like a fun game to help kids understand, check out Landfill Bill!

Landfill Bill is a very simple game where waste materials come down the conveyor belt and Bill has to throw them to the correct bin: glass, plastic, paper, or metal. It is a surprisingly addictive yet very simple game. After students play it, here are some talking points:

  • Were any of the items coming down the conveyor belt trash? (no)
  • Were you surprised by any of the items that Bill recycled? Do you usually put those items in the trash? What could you do with them next time?
  • What happens if Bill didn’t recycle fast enough? (the items ended up in the landfill)
  • What happens when the landfill gets too full? (the game ends; there is no more space for any kind of waste)

While the game does not make this explicit, the whole point of recycling is to find a better use for waste than the landfill. Proper recycling keeps items out of the landfill, extending their life, and reducing the need for new landfills. Playing Landfill Bill is an engaging way to introduce that idea to your students!

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In addition to the resources provided by the Department of Sanitation, GrowNYC has a program called Recycling Champions you might want to try at your school. In their words,

The NYC DOE Sustainability Initiative’s goal is to double the recycling rate by 2013.  Recycling Champions is here to help schools exceed that goal.  The turnkey resources available on this site are a result of our hands-on involvement with faculty, administration, students, custodians, and parents.

One of the Recycling Champions posters

Resources include

There’s tons of great information for teachers and administrators who want to implement better recycling programs in their schools. Check it out!

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We have featured books about recycling, composting, and garbage in the past. Today’s book is about another form of waste management – reuse!

The Dumpster Diver by Janet S. Wong is the story of Steve the electrician and the kids who live in his building. Steve goes dumpster diving on a regular basis – he climbs into dumpsters and explores them to find salvageable items. Then, he and the kids fix these unwanted items up in creative ways.

One day, Steve gets hurt while dumpster diving and the kids come up with an idea – they go to every apartment in the building and ask for unwanted items BEFORE they end up in the dumpster.

This book does not glorify dumpster diving. Rather, it is designed to get kids thinking – is the thing I am throwing away really trash? Can it be fixed? Can it be turned into something new?

After reading The Dumpster Diver with students, have that conversation – what can I do with my waste rather than putting it in the trash?

At the end of the conversation, you might want to organize a swap exchange in your clas, where each kid brings in an unwanted book or toy and trades it with a classmate. You could work with the Parent Coordinator to organize a school-wide swap or participate in a Stop N’Swap.

The goal here is to get kids and adults thinking about ways to use their waste to prevent it from becoming trash… after all, one kid’s trash is another kid’s treasure!

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If you are teaching about recycling and other forms of waste management, check out the PBS Website, which has numerous ideas for educators and parents teaching kids about waste management.

Here are some ideas you will find there:

Zoom has instructions for making your own recycled paper using simple materials. There’s nothing like a good science project to help kids really understand that an old product can be made into a new one!

For younger learners, you can start with a litter campaign. Before kids can understand trash and recycling, litter is a starting point for thinking about the idea that used items have to be gotten rid of.

Eeko World’s Garbage and Recycling page takes students through an animated waste tour. The video is long, but kid-friendly, comprehensive, and detailed. There’s a great accompanying lesson plan to sort trash from recyclables including math extensions.

For these ideas and more, check out the PBS Teachers page on recycling!

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