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Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Last month, we got kids thinking about where their trash ends up with Trash Talk and Loop Scoops. But let’s start at the beginning. Where does our food come from? How many places does the slice of cheese on our burger see before it ends up on our plate?

At Brooklyn Children’s Museum, we teach a program for school groups called, “It’s Easy Being Green.” We cover topics like proper recycling, energy efficiency, and sustainable food choices. The food activity splits kids into groups; each group is responsible for piecing together the life cycle of one ingredient on a burger. They’re given cards that each represent one phase in, for instance, the journey of a slice of cheese. Take a look:

The journey starts here at “Sunset Farm”. But why are we starting on a corn field if we’re trying to get to a slice of cheese? 

To feed the cows! Unfortunately, most cows in the US are fed corn rather than the tasty grass that their stomachs were built to digest. The cow’s milk then has to be transported to the cheese factory. That’s two big truck rides so far for one slice of cheese!

The cheese then gets stored in a large warehouse with other grocery goods. 

A truck picks up the cheese from the warehouse and takes it to the grocery store where it’s stocked on shelves and finally awaits your purchase.

Your cheeseburger can now be assembled and enjoyed! And now what? What about the packaging your cheese slice came wrapped up in? What about all your other food scraps? Where do they end up? 

Most of the time, they end up in a landfill.

Now, here’s the challenge: After students have pieced together the journey of their cheese (there are twenty cards or steps for the cheese alone!) they have to figure out how to remove pieces of the production-distribution-consumption-waste system to make the whole thing more sustainable. How can we get this slice of cheese to travel less? This activity can lead to great discussions on Farmer’s Markets, local food, and composting.

Want to try this activity with your class? Email GoGreen[at]Brooklynkids.org for a PDF version of the full set of Hamburger life cycle cards!

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Public transportation is part of sustainable Brooklyn!

You’re helping the Earth every time you use your MetroCard.  Public transit uses only half the fuel a car uses per mile. For every bus, 30 to 40 fewer cars are on the road.  A packed train car carries as many people as about 100 cars!

Thanks to the MTA and New Yorkers use of public transportation, our city is one of the greenest in the world. You can use buses and subways to take you all over New York City without using a car.

Public transportation is an example of Travel Green.

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Bike paths are part of sustainable Brooklyn!

Bikes can get you far and keep you healthy. They use muscle power instead of the fuel that powers cars. When going for a long ride for fun, use one of these scenic bike paths. You’ll be far from the cars and much safer than on the street!

The website NYC Bike Map has an online guide to all the bike paths in New York City. However, not all of them are kid-friendly. The bike paths we have marked in yellow are “greenways,” paths that are very clearly divided from the street for extra child-protection.

Bike paths are an example of Travel Green.

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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 are teaching your K-5 class in New York City about waste management, trash, recycling, or any related topic, you have to check out the Department of Sanitation’s NYC Teachers’ RRResource Kit: RRR You Ready?. The guide contains materials for teaching about reducing, reusing, and recycling and the content is always specific to New York City. The guide contains:

  • Lesson plans and activity sheets for grades K-5 that comply with Department of Education standards.
  • Ideas for hands-on projects and long-term activities.
  • Extensive background information, including glossary sheets and additional resources.
  • VHS and DVD RRR videos on What Happens To Your Recyclables, offering a virtual tour of a recycling plant; and the story of the TrashMasters!,kids who learn how to reduce, reuse, and recycle at their school.
  • Literacy component: kids can read about waste using coloring books and DSNY/Marvel comic books (drawn from the TrashMasters! kids).

You can download materials online or fill out a request form and have print copies of the RRResources shipped to your school.

These really are incredible resources which will help you teach waste management in your classroom or get your entire K-5 school ready for a school-wide recycling program. What will you do with DSNY’s RRResources?

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We have talked about reducing your waste, reusing waste, composting and mulching… what’s left?

Recycling!

As we’ve pointed out before, recycling is a sustainable buzzword. But too often kids (and their adults) learn very little about the mechanics of recycling. So that is going to be our focus for the next few days.

If you’re teaching kids about recycling, start with a video. Here in New York City, the Department of Sanitation contracts recycling to certain companies. Pratt Industries is one such company – they buy half of New York City’s paper and take it to a factory on Staten Island, where it is turned into cardboard boxes.

Check out this video from Pratt Industries to see the process in action. The video is hosted on Vimeo, which mean you can watch it in your classroom.

When kids see the process of recycling, they better understand the concept – taking waste and turning into something new. Watching this video will take recycling from a buzzword to a concept that kids can relate to and understand.

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Urban Hawks

We’ve been talking about birds this week and last. If you’re looking for hawks, in addition to all the fantastic Pale Male resources, check out Urban Hawks.

This fantastic blog, written by a local bird enthusiast with great camera skills, includes photographs and videos of hawks, birds, and other wildlife in New York City. Check it out as a classroom resource to supplement the book Urban Roosts, to use with nest cams, or to talk about nature here in New York City.

What cool shots of birds will you find??

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