Posts tagged ‘lesson ideas’

Shower shock

At my house this week we finally took advantage of the home water use efficiency evaluation service, offered free of charge by our county’s water district. It was an eye-opener!

Shower shock
We learned a lot about our water usage, and I was pretty amazed at how many gallons we use each day. Two people + 1 cat + small lawn = 250 gallons of water per day, on average. Wow. The biggest shock-eroo for me was that our shower head was pumping a whopping three gallons per minute. I had no idea. Apparently we are not alone. According to an article in Grist today, showers typically account for 17 percent of indoor household water use. The second biggest shock: our single greatest use of household energy by far was also the shower — the cost of hot water really adds up. Again, we’re not alone. According to the same article in Grist, indoor hot water use accounts for 15 percent of the average household’s energy budget. Holy cow.

Cost savings
Our friendly water-use evaluator gave us a new shower head for free. Just swapping to that new shower head has reduced the flow from 3 gallons per minute down to 1.5 gallons per minute. We were worried about whether less water meant a less enjoyable shower, but there was no detectable difference in our showering experience — great pressure, plenty of water, no problem. We’ll also experiment with turning the water temperature down a little bit. We are looking forward to checking next month’s water bill to see whether this change will translate into cost savings.

It got us to thinking about whether there are other simple changes we could do to save money on our utility bills. Hmmm…..

Teachers: try this with your students
What if you could make a science or math lesson out of a simple home resource use experiment like the one I’ve described above? Consider signing up for The Green Ninja Project’s  Smart Energy Contest.  It’s a fun and easy project kids can do at home themselves that will teach them a lot about the connection between their daily activities and the amount of energy they use. And, they might even end up saving their parents some money on their monthly utility bills. Your students can even win cool prizes like a pizza party for their class or having a tree planted in their name, among others. When you sign up, you also get some great gear to help you teach the lesson. If you try it, tell us! We’d love to hear about your experiences.

–Julie Noblitt, Green Ninja Team

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.

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

Teachers: Are you looking for lesson ideas?

Teachers: What would your elementary school students think of this new cartoon, “For Goodness Rake”? Would they watch it on their own at home? Could you make a classroom lesson out of it?

The Green Ninja™ series 
Like “Footprint Renovation,” “For Goodness Rake” is part of an emerging series of free, fun lesson starters for grades K-6 that can be used in the classroom or viewed at home on YouTube.  For a variety of lesson ideas and resources, visit our summer workshop page. Also visit the Green Ninja Smart Energy Contest page to sign up for great project to do with your class this fall.

Made by students, for students
The animations in the Green Ninja™ series are created by students in David Chai’s class in the Animation/Illustration Department at San Jose State University. Last month I had the opportunity to visit the classroom and learn more about what goes into the making of these cartoons. At least 40 students put in approximately 10 hours per week all semester long to create each one. The day I was there, students were carefully analyzing each segment of film for continuity and quality. In the next room, graduating senior Erin Schleupner (pictured below) was hard at work colorizing the finished animations using a special graphics tool called a Cintiq. I was truly impressed by the quality of the work and dedication of the students in making these films.

Making of "For Goodness Rake"

Erin Schleupner working on “For Goodness Rake”

Please vote!
One of the student films is now in the running for a “People’s Choice” award worth $5,000 from the Green Screen Climate Fix Flicks festival in Melbourne, Australia. Please vote for “Footprint Renovation” and help support more great student work. You can only vote once, and every vote counts!

–Julie Noblitt
Green Ninja Team

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