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Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

In addition to the physical Watershed Relief Map and the print map produced by the Department of Environmental Protection, here’s a book you can use to teach about the route water takes from rain to your tap and all the steps in between.

I first received a copy of this book in the late 1980s and have been in love with it ever since. Just like every other Ms. Frizzle adventure, the Magic School Bus Goes to the Waterworks by Joanna Cole is a fascinating, in-depth look at the steps from rain to tap. Kids will really appreciate how much work in takes to clean water before we can use it. The book is also available in a Spanish edition, an Italian edition, a Japanese edition, and a Greek edition!

The one caveat is that the story is a generic, every-town story, and New York City’s water system is a little different. A while ago, the Department of Environmental Protection here in New York City commissioned a NYC-specific version of the book. The last time I talked to them, they had run out of a budget for printing more, but you may want to reach out to DEP and see if they have new copies. Alternately, ask around – a colleague, friend, or local library may have a copy!

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Yesterday, we mentioned the route New York City’s water takes from upstate to your tap. Today: a post about a remarkable map of that very path.

One of the highlights at the Queens Museum of Art is the Watershed Relief Map. The map dates back to 1939 when the Worlds Fair was held in Queens. As part of the Worlds Fair, the Cartographic Survey Force (a branch of the Works Progress Administration) was charged with constructing a 3-dimensional model of the waterways that get water from upstate New York to New York City. The model measured 32 feet by 20 feet and cost $100,000 to make (about $1.5 million in today’s dollars). In the end, it was too big to be displayed and went into storage.

After a brief exhibition in 1948, the map went back into storage and was completely forgotten until 1991, when it was discovered by Michael Cetera, an employee of the Department of Environmental Protection. After a massive restoration, the map was put on display at the Queens Museum of Art, which is located on the site of that very 1939 Worlds Fair.

The Watershed Relief Map now on display at the Queens Museum of Art

To celebrate the map’s restoration, NYC H2O and Queens Museum of Art are hosting a Watershed Relief Map Presentation on Saturday, December 10th at noon. The kid-friendly event will feature Michael Cetera and NYC water educator Matt Malina. For more information, go to the event page.

The Watershed Relief Map is both a great source of information about NYC’s water and a fascinating object with an interesting history. This sounds like a great opportunity to learn more about both the watershed and the map!

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Icky Fest is an annual tradition here at Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Every year since our re-opening in 2008, we hosted a weekend devoted to all things gross! During the weekend festival, kids become grossologists—scientific experts on all things slimy, yucky, and downright disgusting. They can create their very own snotty slime, touch creepy creatures, smell pungent cheese, study the New York City sewers, and more!

What’s the sustainability angle? This year, we are welcoming the “Sewer in a Suitcase” team from the Center for Urban Pedagogy. Their suitcase contains a model of a New York City block. Add water and pollution and you can see the major problem with NYC’s water system… (more about that later this week or see our earlier post on the High Line)

Come to Brooklyn Children’s Museum on Saturday, November 19th to check it out. CUP will be doing demonstrations at 12pm, 1pm, and 2pm in the Commons Theater. ICKY!

Tomorrow: America Recycles Day!

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Can’t get enough of parks? In addition to all those nature centers in city parks mentioned in an earlier post as well as a post on Jamaica Bay, here are profiles two more local parks and information about field trips.

A footbridge over the saltmarshes at Randall's Island

What other local parks are we forgetting? What’s your favorite park in New York City and why?

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The team here at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum has been looking for the best nature guides to use with early childhood. The goal was a comprehensive guide, light enough to carry around, with limited text, and color photographs.

Yesterday, browsing at a local bookstore, I found them! Check out the Pocket Naturalist Guides from Waterford Press:

These guides are light (1 ounce each), foldable, and laminated for durability. As you can see, they have high color illustrations and basic information about each specimen below the picture. On the back of Central Park Wildlife is a map of Central Park, featuring where to go in Central Park to best look for the animals listed.

Some other guides you might really be interested in:

Urban Wildlife is general to the entire United States.

New York State Wildlife covers over 140 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and fish. It is also the only of these guides found in the New York Public Library.

In addition to 140 plant species, New York State Trees & Wildlife includes a map of state botanical sanctuaries.

New York City Birds includes a map of all five boroughs with birding hotspots marked.

You may also be interested in New York State Birds, New York State Butterflies & Moths, Eastern Seashore Life, New Jersey Birds, New Jersey Trees and Wildflowers, New Jersey Butterflies and MothsDangerous Animals and Plants. For a full list of the Pocket Naturalist Guides, you can find them on Waterford Press’ website.

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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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