A Blog by Nature

It's in the Water

Posted on February 3, 2015 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (2)

What you can do about marine debris.


Here in the bay area we are surrounded by water so it's no wonder that we want to keep it as beautiful and as pristine as possible to pass on to future generations. What can you do? Want to help but don't know where to start or what to do to really make a difference? Here are a couple of upcoming events and volunteer opportunities. Just click on either Save the Bay or Pacific Beach Coalition to find out.



    


Head to our Sources for Educators' page to learn more about these two organizations and many others.

AKBN Hero: John Muir

Posted on January 14, 2015 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

 

The first time Muir saw Yosemite, he wrote in his journal that he was “overwhelmed by the landscape, scrambling down steep cliff faces to get a closer look at the waterfalls, whooping and howling at the vistas, jumping tirelessly from flower to flower.” -- John Muir


Image credit: "John Muir 1912" by Underwood & Underwood available from the Library of Congress's Prints & Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a10297.


John Muir was a pioneer in saving our wild areas. He led the fight to keep places like Yosemite and Sequoia National Park safe from development and he founded the Sierra Club to encourage others to advocate for forests and parkland. Known as “the Father of the National Parks,” Muir changed how Americans thought about the land and all the many plants and animals that share it with us.


See a 10-minute biography of John Muir, and learn why wild spaces were so important to him.

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Video credit: produced by the National Parks Service, starring Lee Stetson as Muir.

Our Playful Nature

Posted on January 12, 2015 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Fostering an early love of STEM




According to the National Math & Science Initiative in 2008, 31 percent of U.S. bachelor degrees were issued in science and engineering fields, compared with 61 percent in Japan and 51 percent in China. To create more scientists and engineers, it is essential to create an early love for science and there is no better way to encourage that love than to capture that early curiosity with play.


Yet many of the toys and apps that our kids are playing with do nothing to encourage an early love of science. Whether our kids are building virtual cake pops or crushing candy on a tablet or smashing cars together, we are missing an opportunity to answer their questions about the science and engineering in the world around them.


According to research conducted by PBS at the age of 2, children's language skills are developing rapidly and much of that development is driven by not only on their reading and writing skills but also on their curiosity. Combining these developmental milestones with the power of storytelling creates the perfect platform for fostering an early love of STEM.


Article from Huffington Post Impact 11/13/14 Fostering an Early Love of STEM Through The Power of Storytelling by Jeremy Scheinberg

Concrete Jungle

Posted on January 7, 2015 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

What do primate zoo environments and corporate offices have in common?

Excerpt from The Atlantic April 28, 2014

Article by Laura Smith titled: The Mind Does Not Belong in a Cubicle

Image credit: Joerg Sarbach

The savannah was our original “workspace,” and though our world today hardly resembles our ancestral environment, our biological rules still apply. E.O. Wilson, the famed biologist who studies biophilia, said our inherent appreciation and longing for natural environments, explains that “beauty is our word for the qualities that have contributed most to human survival.” Waterfalls signify an abundant source of life, flowers signify bountiful land. We are wired to crave the natural world.


Stephen Kellert, a social ecologist at Yale, told me that our poor office design is a sign that we don’t see ourselves as animals, as having biological needs. “The measure of progress in our civilization,” he said, “is not embracing nature, but moving away from nature and transcending nature and becoming independent of our biology.” Kellert told me that he finds zoos ironic. We consider it “inhumane” to keep a gorilla in an indoor, concrete environment with no exposure to greenery or anything resembling its natural habitat, and yet we put ourselves in these environments all the time.

Kids online

Posted on January 6, 2015 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

What do computer games, bike riding, and shoe tying have in common?

Image credit: Thanasis Zovoilis


Article from the Huffington Post 2/4/2014 titled: Kids can use Smartphone before they learn to write their names and tie their shoe.


According to the parents polled, a whopping 89 percent of their 6-to-9-year-olds are active online. Internationally, 46 percent of kids spend more time in a virtual world like Webkinz or Club Penguin than any other online activity. Additionally, 65 percent of kids spend more than two hours online each week—the U.S having the highest percentage of kids, 12 percent, spending more than ten hours per week online.


But here’s where the findings get really interesting...


66 percent of kids ages 3-to-5 can play a computer game, but only 58 percent are able to ride a bike.
38 percent in that age range can write their full names and 14 percent can tie their shoes (a skill that’s usually mastered by age 6), compared to 57 percent who know how to operate a tablet. 47 percent of little kids are able to operate a smartphone while parents reported only 26 percent know how to make their own breakfast.

Gyre Expedition

Posted on January 6, 2015 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Debris on remote beaches, even in the wilderness of Alaska


Peter Murphy, the Alaska Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program, was recently invited to participate in the GYRE Expedition, an innovative and unique project planned by the Alaska Sea Life Center that brought together scientists, removal experts, educators and artists aboard the R/V Norseman to observe, discuss and explore the issue of marine debris in Alaska and work on ways to raise awareness nationwide.


There’s an active, innovative and positive debris community. The debris problem is big and multi-faceted, so it can seem overwhelming. But having had the chance to meet with people on the beaches they’ve worked hard to clean, and listen to stories of the ways they’ve come up with to do that work, shows how much difference a few people can make.



Humans are the source of debris and the solution. Every piece of debris we found on beaches came from one source – people. Whatever country it came from, it still was manufactured by people for use by people. Cleanups on the beaches (and in the water) help reduce the amount of debris in the ocean, but preventing more debris is the key. That prevention takes people changing their behavior, not just at sea but on land, where data shows more than 80 percent of all marine debris starts. Hopefully this trip is part of the awareness that leads to those changed behaviors.

The Science of Awe

Posted on January 5, 2015 at 4:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Can psychologists chart what happens when nature blows your mind?

The Sierra Club November 2014

Authors: Jake Abrahamson

An awe inspiring view as seen from the International Space Station at an altitude of 235 miles. ISS 007 crew, July 21, 2003. Credit: NASA JSC/ISS 07 crew image by Michael Benson


In his Sierra Club article Jake Abrahamson talks about an evening storm on a camping trip, “scientifically speaking, the storm brought me into a state of awe, an emotion that, psychologists are coming to understand, can have profoundly positive effects on people. It happens when people encounter a vast and unexpected stimulus, something that makes them feel small and forces them to revise their mental models of what’s possible in the world. In its wake, people act more generously and ethically, think more critically when encountering persuasive stimuli, like arguments or advertisements, and often feel a deeper connection to others and the world in general. Awe prompts people to redirect concern away from the self and toward everything else. And about three- quarters of the time, it’s elicited by nature.

The Rippl effect

Posted on January 2, 2015 at 4:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Creating a healthier planet one Rippl at a time


From the Ocean Conservancy: The Blog Aquatic July 2013


Rippl helps you remember to make simple, sustainable choices that save you money and keep the ocean and all its wildlife healthy. According to the EPA, more than 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. Of those, approximately 100 billion are plastic shopping bags. Thanks to Rippl users, we’re helping to lower that number.


We’re inspired on a daily basis by the small changes individuals are implementing into their routines. Whether it’s remembering your reusable bag at the grocery store each visit or picking up that piece of trash you see on your commute into work, each action is adding up to make a big difference for the health of our ocean.


We all can use a reminder now and again to help us make smart choices in our daily lives. But Rippl isn’t just a way for you to remember small actions to take to help create a healthier planet, it’s also a way to share your inspiring environmental habits with others.

Who will be the next Steve Jobs?

Posted on January 1, 2015 at 12:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Nurturing the spirit of ‘curiosity seeker’ in every child


Excerpt from: US Department of Education

The Arts Education Partnership October 27, 2011

Helping to Realize the Potential of the Arts for Every Child


Inventor and artist. A genius of “hip.” These have been some of the words used to describe Steve Jobs – a 21st-century visionary and innovator. His iPods, iPads, iTunes, Macs, and apps unleashed exciting new ways of communicating and learning for millions of students, who find history lessons coming to life in the palm of their hands, discover their fingertips as virtual paintbrushes, and create musical compositions at the touch of a screen.


The Arts Education Partnership (AEP), along with many others, is asking the questions: “Who will be the next Steve Jobs?” “What will be the next breakthrough to revolutionize our lives?” That’s because at the heart of AEP’s purpose is this question: “How do we harness the potential in every child and nurture a Jobs-like spirit of ‘curiosity seeker’ in each of them?” With this purpose in mind, AEP galvanizes the power of partners across many sectors to promote the essential role the arts play in helping all students succeed in school, life, and work. Unfortunately, as much as arts are a part of a complete and well-rounded education, their place in America’s P-12 education system is still threatened by narrowed curricula, conflicting policies, and budget shortfalls.


Undoubtedly, Steve Jobs envisioned and then created tools that can help make learning fun, engaging, relevant for students – oh, and dare we say cool? In much the same way, arts education can transform students, communities, and their schools. AEP, through the critical evidence it gathers and shares with the field, knows for sure that quality arts learning fosters young people’s capacities for critical thinking, creativity, innovation, and collaboration – skills essential to their growth as successful learners, creative problem solvers, and competitive participants in this global economy.

Who said every child is an artist

Posted on December 26, 2014 at 3:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Picasso and thinking outside of the box 


Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” Arts education programs in our schools, pre-K through high school, will help solve the problem Picasso described.


The arts are an integral part of a well-rounded education. To miss out on arts learning opportunities is to miss out on gaining the very skills and habits of mind we know are essential to succeeding in life and earning a livelihood in the 21st century: creativity; observing as opposed to simply seeing; identifying as well as solving problems; thinking outside the box; and communicating with not just words but with images, sounds, and motion — these and more are inherently part of a regularly scheduled, quality arts education program.


To read the complete article from HomeRoom, U.S. Department of Education click the link below:

 

Arts Education and Advocacy: An Investment in Every Child’s Future