Green Ninja Film Festival

What do you get when you combine science with a good story?  For a group of sixth graders from Redwood Middle School in Napa, CA, they get the chance to plan, direct, and star in their own films about the environment. They also have the chance to show their film at the Green Ninja Film Festival.


In July 2013, a group of 20 Bay Area science teachers came to San Jose State University (SJSU) to attend “Scientific Storytelling and the Green Ninja Film Academy” – a workshop hosted by the Bay Area Earth Science Institute ( The standards-based workshop combined climate science content with the essentials of film making so that teachers can guide their students through a film making experience.  SJSU’s Film Professor Harry Mathias provided instruction on both filmmaking and the use of iPads as filmmaking tools, and teachers were able to make their own Green Ninja films during the workshop. Participating teachers are now able to borrow a set of 10 iPads for their students to use in the classroom.

The climate science filmmaking experience culminates in the Green Ninja Film Festival – a public showing of the best student films as determined by a panel of judges.  Complete details about the film festival can be found here ( 

We are very excited to see the results from our student filmmakers!

The Green Ninja Film Festival is December 6th, 2013, with another film festival planned for May, 2014. 

Contact if you have further questions. 


A big report on climate change (IPCC AR5) came out recently and our Green Ninja Science Team has been poring over the details.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll share some of the more interesting results from the most detailed and peer-reviewed assessment of our climate system ever.  So let’s get started!

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) has completed their Scientific Assessment report and it is full of new findings and figures.  Chief among those was a new statement that goes something like this:

“It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century”

Although this may not seem such a big deal, for a scientific organization like the IPCC, it’s like someone screaming at the top of her lungs – we’ve found it, we’ve found it!!  So what are they yelling about?  They are now sure that humans are causing our recent climate to change – period.

Of course there is more to the story, but this conclusion is firm.

Ok, and now on to a pretty picture!

surface temperature

This Figure SPM.1 (from the Summary for Policymakers) shows how temperatures have changed on Earth over the last 150 years.  In the top plot, the annual average temperature is shown from a couple of different observation networks.  A couple of points do jump out.  First, the temperatures bounce around a lot from year to year – a bit like a pinball machine bouncing around.  However, we can also see that there were two strong warming periods – one from about 1910 to 1940 and the other from about 1970 to about now.  The second part of the figure, we see the same data now grouped by 10-year averages that filter out all the wiggles.  Now the warming periods are even clearer.

Let’s look at another picture!

change in surface temp

The second plot (Figure B) looks at how much temperatures have changed over the last 110 years at different points on the Earth.  As you can see, most places are between 0.5 and 1.5 degrees C warmer today compared to 1900.  Although that may seem a small number, it’s actually quite noticeable if we stop and notice.  So for sure the planet is warmer.

If you have any questions, send them along and our Science Team will do our best to answer them.

Please tune in next time and we’ll look at another aspect of the new IPCC report!

How far can you go on one burrito? Questions like these fuel the imaginations of us here at The Green Ninja Project. Our scientists, educators, and filmmakers create engaging, fun, and creative ways for students to learn about the science behind our changing environment. The Green Ninja™ energizes, activates, and engages students (and teachers!) to make a difference.  We create resources teachers can use, such as:

miles per burrito

Check out Eugene Cordero’s 13-minute TEDx talk and tell us where you fall on Eugene’s burrito enjoyment index. And see the Green Ninja make his dramatic entrance with a special-delivery burrito.  You won’t believe how high he can leap. Go Green Ninja!

eugene and green ninja

In the first episode of the Green Ninja Show, we meet Dr. Burrito.

Dr. Burrito is played by Eugene Cordero, a professor of Meteorological and Climate Science at San José State University.


Eugene loves burritos! To celebrate the first episode of the Green Ninja Show, the Green Ninja Blogging team asked him about his favorite food as inspiration.

Why do you love burritos?

To be honest, I’m not really sure.  I’ve always enjoyed Mexican food, but for some reason, I’m drawn towards burritos.  Perhaps it’s the simplicity and the nice eatable package – a tortilla.  It’s probably also all the great taquerias here in the Bay Area!  

What is your favorite kind of burrito?

My favorite is a vegetarian burrito! I tend to interrogate the burrito makers about their ingredients so I can steer towards my favorites (e.g. grilled veggies, black beans). Oh, and fresh avocado or homemade guacamole is a big plus.  I also have to say that I LOVE breakfast burritos when done right…eggs, potatoes, rice and beans with some good salsa.  I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!!

Why is food an important part of our environmental footprint?

All foods require some energy to grow and produce, and thus are responsible for some carbon emissions.  However, some foods, like beef, pork and processed foods have a much larger carbon footprint compared to foods such as vegetables and grains.  I was actually surprised to find out how big a difference our food choices can make on our individual carbon footprint.

What do you recommend for those of us who want to reduce our food footprint?

For me I just try to be conscious of the choices I make.  Making one climate-conscious food choice every week is a good place to start.  Changing what we eat isn’t easy, so starting slow and staying aware is a great way to get involved.

When will you eat your next burrito?

Looking at my upcoming week…I do see a breakfast burrito in the horizon!

veggie burrito smaller

Autumn and Shampoo

autumnAutumn here!

This week I was introduced to the idea of all natural shampoo, which consisted of just baking soda and water. I was stoked on the idea for two reasons, it was cheap and good for the environment. But I was hesitant, because I love having scented shampoo. Unlike most people I know, I only use shampoo and do not use conditioner. I haven’t used conditioner in probably over a year because I wanted to reduce the number of products in my hair and it made my hair more oily than it already is. Recently, I switched to Head and Shoulders Ocean Lift because I heard that it wasn’t just for those with dandruff, but it balanced your natural oils in your hair. After I tried it, I fell in love with it. But then I really started to wonder about what kind of chemicals were in this product. I found there were plenty of chemicals, some that were even apparently linked to cancer. So I decided to give the baking soda a try for five days.

Day 1: For lack of better words, it sucked. My hair was left feeling disgusting and not clean at all.

Day 2: I tried adding more baking soda and less water. My hair still felt gross.

Day 3: I added more baking soda again. My hair was getting oily from not being washed properly and I was getting annoyed that my hair didn’t smell good.

Day 4: I was counting down the days to fresh clean hair.

Day 5: I added lemon juice to the baking soda and water because I read that citrus would help the oiliness… NOPE. I officially gave up,

Day 6: I washed my hair with Head and Shoulders again.

I read that the mixture ratio really didn’t matter because there was no right or wrong way to do it, so I knew it didn’t have to do with that. So I gave up on that shampoo and went back to my old chemical habit. In the mean time I’ve started looking for a new natural shampoo that is better for the environment and could balance my natural oils. Any suggestions??

Illustration by Tamara Chang

Illustration by Tamara Chang

Looking for help!


Sometimes small changes make a big difference. Take 6 minutes and check out this great story about how one Tuscon resident figured out a simple way to use available rainwater to create a healthy, natural oasis in the desert. Do you think this could be done where you live?


Autumn here!

This week I stumbled upon a link to a carbon footprint calculator. So, I decided I would calculate my carbon footprint. The calculator was divided into different components of lifestyle habits that contributed to CO2 emissions. Some examples of the CO2 emitting actions included  flights, electricity, car travel, and eating habits. I thought it was interesting to see how all the components came together in the calculations. It  also showed how everyday habits emit COand how much impact I, personally, have on the environment.

According to this calculator, over the last 12 months my carbon footprint consisted of:

1.44 metric tons of CO2 from electricity and gas

1.54 metric tons of COfrom plane travel

5.19 metric tons of COfrom car travel

0.01 metric tons of CO2 from public transit

4.47 metric tons of CO2 from secondary emissions (including shopping and eating habits)

My total carbon foot print was 12.66 metric tons of CO2 from February 2012 to February 2013. My largest number was from traveling via car and plane. I have done a lot of traveling over the past year, for conferences, trips to my home town, and visiting friends. I also spent my summer traveling all around Oregon since I had an internship there for two months. Most of my trips consisted of carpooling with other interns. I would consider this to reduce my overall carbon footprint.

Even so, my footprint is almost half of America’s average carbon footprint, which is 20 metric tons of CO2. This site said the world-wide goal for individual carbon footprints was 2 metric tons of COa year. This would lead to a drastic change from the typical American lifestyle, including my own lifestyle.

My goal is to reduce my carbon footprint by next year by using more public transportation, eating less red meat and buying more foods with less packaging.

What’s your carbon footprint!?

Stat tuned!


P.S. If you haven’t yet, make sure to check out our Green Ninja animation “Footprint Renovation.”

Tag Cloud