Archive for July, 2012

Indoor edible walls in the classroom

Teachers: Are you ready for the new school year? Are you feeling energized and ready to kick it into high gear? If you are looking for some inspiration, look no further!

Meet Stephen Ritz, a sixth grade teacher in the South Bronx. He has taken a simple lesson plan to new level in his classroom, with amazing and unexpected results. His students create, among other things, indoor edible walls that he calls “the new green graffiti.” During his talk, I lost count of the number of benefits to the students and to the community that come out of the work his kids are doing.  I’d suggest you listen all the way to the end of Stephen’s 13-minute TEDxManhattan talk below, but frankly I’ll be amazed if you are able to turn it off before he’s finished speaking.  Check out the other videos on his website, the Green Bronx Machine.

Sally Ride’s message of hope about the climate

This week we lost a great American hero. Dr. Sally Ride was an astronaut, educator, and champion of science education for girls. After retiring from NASA in 1987, she founded Sally Ride Science, an organization devoted to encouraging young people, especially girls, pursue careers in science and math. In the short video below, hear Dr. Ride talk about what it was like to see that thin blue line of the earth’s atmosphere from space for the first time. She ends her message on a note of optimism about what can do to preserve the health of our planet. We salute Dr. Ride for all she accomplished during her lifetime. Her story and legacy will continue to make a difference to us all.

Weather Weirding

Is the weird weather we are having this summer just a strange one-off event or part of a larger pattern? Tune in and listen to Dr. Eugene Cordero, climate scientist at San Jose State University and founder of the Green Ninja Project, on last week’s radio program on KPFA called “Up Front.”   Download the podcast to hear the segment called “Weather Weirding” starting at minute 33:45. It’s a very interesting discussion about how to make sense of the unusual weather patterns we have been having across the country this summer in general, and about some of the effects on the Bay Area in particular.

UpFront – LIBOR, Weather Weirding, and. . . a Supermarket Strike? – July 11, 2012 at 7:00am

Click to listen (or download)

Scientific American chooses Green Ninja: Footprint Renovation as “Video of the Week”

July 13, 2012 — Many thanks to blogger Bora Zivkovic for choosing our video as Scientific American’s “Video of the Week”! There is still time to vote for this video in the People’s Choice Awards. The prize money of $5,000 will be used to create more free videos for teachers and kids. Head on over to the Green Green Screen Climate Fix Flicks site and cast your vote. You can only vote once, and every vote counts!

Where are you on the global fat scale?

A new tool based on data collected by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine shows you which country you most resemble according to your Body Mass Index (BMI).  Driven by curiosity about my own profile, I gave it a whirl. I entered my age, height, and weight and in just one second I got the results back.  (I am most like women my age in Paraguay, as it turns out.) But, I was surprised by the complexity of another picture I got back about the environmental impact of this aggregated view of each country’s BMI profile:

Researchers see global weight gain as a bigger threat to mankind than population growth. As well as the health implications, experts are also concerned about the environmental impact. The adult human population has a combined weight of 287,000,000 tonnes, researchers say. Increasing obesity could have the same impact on global resources as an extra billion people, they believe.


Looking at the data, very interesting questions emerge. How many more people could be fed with excess food consumed by some countries? What are the implications for food access around the world? Are there other factors that would affect how we see the situation?

Teachers: is this something you would use in your classroom to base a lesson on? If so, we would love to hear about it. Tell us!

–Julie Noblitt, Green Ninja Team

Why does George Shultz drive a Leaf?

“It’s not a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of fact that the globe is warming. We should be looking at ways to lessen our dependence on oil at all. And that’s why I like my electric car…” begins George Shultz, former secretary of state, in the new two-minute video posted today. Take a listen.

According to the article posted today on the Stanford University News site by Mark Golden and Mark Schwartz, Shultz has been concerned about U.S. energy policy for a long time. “What we do today is going to have a big impact on the future,” he says. “I have three, soon to be four, great-grandchildren. I’ve got to do what I can to see that they have a decent world. And if we let this go on and on the way it’s going right now, they’re not going to have one. Getting control of carbon is right at the heart of the problem.”

We agree!

–Julie Noblitt, Green Ninja Team

Scientific American blogs about the Green Ninja

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 — The Green Ninja was featured in Scientific American’s “PsiVid: A Cross Section of Science on the Cyberscreen” blog today.

The blog’s author, Joanne Manaster, teaches an online Master of Science Teaching program to certified teachers with the School of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois and is helping to run a great new engineering camp for girls this summer. As I was perusing her website, Joanne Loves Science (which is packed with great resources for teachers), I noticed this new online course (or “MOOC“) for anyone interested in the current situation with our environment. From her web site:

Do you want to learn more about Environmental Science, in particular, Sustainability? The University of Illinois is offering a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) called Sustainability: a Global Introduction, starting August 27, running for 8 weeks, that will cover these topics:

Week 1: Introduction & Population pessimism vs. optimism: Demographics, neo-malthusians and the disappearance of the third world
Week 2: Ecosystems, Extinction & Tragedy of the Commons A theory that threatens to doom us all?
Week 3: Climate Change The climate of the near future: hot, hotter, or hottest?
Week 4: Energy What happens when we reach “Peak Oil” Renewable energy: is there enough to make the switch?
Week 5: Agriculture and Water Can we continue to increase food production – or have we reached the limit of what the land can support?
Week 6: Environmental Economics and Policy Can economists lead the way to sustainability?
Week 7: Measuring sustainability How do we know we’re making a difference?
Week 8: Ethics and Culture the long view

You can learn more about their free textbook, Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation HERE

Two big Green Ninja thumbs-up to Joanne Manaster and her fabulous educational programs!

–Julie Noblitt, Green Ninja Team

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