The Power of Failure

Article: The Power of Failure

This episode starts on a low note. The grades are posted from the students’ first test – and almost everyone’s failed.

A moment later, Ellie says, “People said I was stupid… I started believing it. I started becoming it.”

In Episode One, almost every kid in the school said they didn’t study or that they didn’t care – in effect striving for failure… to be the person that they think everyone thinks they are.

They were reaffirming themselves as stereotypical dropouts. Ironic as Soledad O’Brien, their teacher this week, immediately digs into the question of, what do people assume about you when they look at you? And then she asks, “who are you really?” – and the answers are diametrically different from the previous ones.

Green tech finds: the power-free kitchen appliances edition

Article: Green tech finds: the power-free kitchen appliances edition

Refrigerate and cook food without electricity? We’ve got finds this week that get you pretty close, along with mushrooms that eat plastic, and plans to reuse dirty diapers (really!).

The DIY, electricity-free refrigerator: Ever heard of a zeer pot? This very old concept for keeping food chilled only requires two clay flower pots, and some sand and water to build yourself. (via @dothegreenthing)

And then cook that food without power: Well, not exactly, but with a lot less power. The Wonderbag keeps food cooking after the heat’s turned off, and was originally designed for very poor people who couldn’t afford much fuel. (via Inhabitat)

How to park your lawn mower for good: the Meadow Project

Article: How to park your lawn mower for good: the Meadow Project

Got a lawn? Ever stopped to consider the amount of time, money, and natural resources you put into keeping that grass green? The watering, fertilizing (whether through organic or conventional means), mowing, and weeding? No doubt that lawn grass is the most high-maintenance plant on the planet (as the expert in the video above observes)! Even if you’re not a greenie, is that really how you want to spend your time, energy, and money?

Green tech finds – 8/18/11

Article: Green tech finds – 8/18/11

Old school shipping, CO2 as a source of fuel and yet another new solar technology for charging your phone: this week’s green tech finds.

Another recycling robot: While not as directly practical as the ZenRobotics Recycler we mentioned in an earlier post, Florida Robotics‘ Dr. R.E. Cycler is designed for educational purposes – essentially, to show kids what happens to the aluminum cans that go into those blue bins. Take a quick look at it above. (via Fast Company and @TaigaCompany)

Student music video trains peers on recycling

Article: Student music video trains peers on recycling

Ever get frustrated when you see someone throwing away a recyclable item… right next to a recycling bin? Or throw a recyclable item in the wrong container? High school junior CJ Joseph certainly has, and has played the role of “recycling police” (or “recycling nazi” if you prefer) at Queens’ The Renaissance Charter School: “If I see somebody I’m like, ‘You’re throwing that out in the wrong bin. Follow the signs people! I know you’ve heard it: Papers go in the blue (bins), and bottles in the green.”

But as many of us have learned, badgering only gets you so far… so CJ decided to apply her other passion, music, to her recycling fervor, and wrote the song “R to the E to the Cycle.” If you read the lyrics, you’ll see they’re not much different from her “recycling police” instructions… but definitely more catchy!

Young filmmakers challenge viewers to "Find Your Footprint"

Article: Young filmmakers challenge viewers to "Find Your Footprint"

The last time I mentioned young filmmakers, I was discussing college students. Turns out they’re not the youngest people making environmentally-themed documentaries: the National Geographic and P&G Future Friendly “Find Your Footprint” contest solicited short films from elementary school classes in which the kids shared their ideas for conserving natural resources.

85-year-old Victor Kaufmann's legacy: a forest

Article: 85-year-old Victor Kaufmann's legacy: a forest

Most of us probably view our “golden years” as a time in which we’ll enjoy the fruits of a lifelong labors, and perhaps try to make sense of our lifetimes and our legacies. At the age of 75, though, Victor Kaufmann decided to start a project: the reforesting of a parcel of land he’d recently purchased in Lyle, WA. Unfazed by the notion that he would not witness the full fruition of his project — a healthy, mature forest — Victor set out to plant ten thousand trees on his land.

This Spring, ten years after starting, Victor will put that ten thousandth tree into the ground… and a team of student filmmakers, which includes his granddaughter, will be there to witness and record the event.

Urban beekeeping project aimed at Philadelphia's underserved youth

Article: Urban beekeeping project aimed at Philadelphia's underserved youth

As an educational tool, beekeeping has a lot to recommend it: students keeping hives get a direct education in the complex relationships of natural systems, and insight into food production. Added lessons may focus on bees’ creation of around $15 billion in added crop value, or the fact that “about one mouthful in three in the diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination.” And, finally, they’ll pick up a skill with economic value as demand for local honey is very strong.

The Woodland Community Apiary in Western Philadelphia plans to teach all of these lessons and more as a part of its youth beekeeping project.

Brits to offer green jobs training nationwide

Article: Brits to offer green jobs training nationwide

Here in the US, community colleges are often at the forefront of training for emerging career fields… and we’ve seen that happening with various forms of green technology. That happens on a system-by-system basis here; in the UK, however, they’re taking green job training nationwide with the launch of the new National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies.

Green tech finds (1/13/11)

Article: Green tech finds (1/13/11)

From green tech at the auto show in Detroit to a potential standard for eco cell phones… your green tech finds for the week.

San Francisco State University adds sustainability to general education requirements

Article: San Francisco State University adds sustainability to general education requirements

Freshman composition, world civilization, college algebra… and, now, intro to sustainability? Yep, the core curriculum at San Francisco State University will look something like that in a couple of years, as the university has approved the addition of three units of environmentally-themed coursework to its general education requirements.

Boulder environmental education program focuses on zero waste

Article: Boulder environmental education program focuses on zero waste

Traditionally, environmental education involves classroom lessons supplemented by field trips and hands-on learning. In 24 elementary schools in Boulder, Colorado, however, learning about waste, recycling, and composting involves going to lunch.

OK, that’s not the complete program, but Boulder’s Green Star Schools go beyond the standard environmental education curriculum in focusing on zero waste… and implementing these ideas in the cafeteria, where kids separate out recyclables and compostables.

US colleges compete in Campus Conservation Nationals

Article: US colleges compete in Campus Conservation Nationals

Thought football was the main competition going on between colleges and universities this fall? Well, it will get the lion’s share of the attention… but we’re smack dab in the middle of another intercollegiate competitive event that could make a difference for the planet: the Campus Conservation Nationals.

The true size of Africa

Article: The true size of Africa

Kai Krause came up with this awesome map to help in the “fight against rampant Immappancy,” i.e. insufficient geographic knowledge: A survey with random American schoolkids let them guess the population and land area of their country. Not entirely unexpected, but still rather unsettling, the majority chose “1-2″ billion” and “largest in the world,” respectively.…

How Mr. Condom made Thailand a better place

Article: How Mr. Condom made Thailand a better place

We’ve got our TiVo hooked up to get the latest Ted Talks on our TV, so we were delighted to find Mechai Viravaidya’s presentation “How Mr. Condom Made Thailand a Better Place” in our “Now Playing” list recently. Viravaidya is an eloquent and funny speaker, which alone makes it worth watching the 14-minute talk. But…

Artist's response to cuts to arts funding

Article: Artist's response to cuts to arts funding

As part of a British campaign led by artists to protest cuts to arts funding, Cornelia Parker leads the charge with this statement that chops a wing off of Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North. It’s captioned, “Why clip the wings of an industry that is soaring? It’s a false economy to cut the arts.”…

Environmental education now required in Maryland schools

Article: Environmental education now required in Maryland schools

Environmental education initiatives are popping up at schools around the US; few places, however, require them. The state of Maryland yesterday joined Washington as one of the exceptions to this rule: according to the Baltimore Sun, “The Maryland State Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to make environmental education a part of every student’s education…”

The illustrated guide to a Ph.D

Article: The illustrated guide to a Ph.D

My brilliant scientist friend Evan shared this link which I thought was just too good to not share and should be appreciated by those of us who spent some time in academia: Matt Might, an assistant professor at University of Utah, created this hilarious “illustrated guide to a Ph.D” to help explain to “a fresh…

Green tech finds (8/12/10)

Article: Green tech finds (8/12/10)

The greenest cell phone companies, solar Marines, and DIY LED Facebook notification… your green tech finds for the week.

Smart energy cities: The NRDC’s Smarter Cities project has published a list of 22 US cities taking the lead on more sustainable energy use and production. (via GreenTech Pastures)
LED Facebook notification: OK, this is only marginally green, but Instructables has a project up for a DIY Facebook notification device that uses LED lights.

School fundraising goes green

Article: School fundraising goes green

Though the kids are probably home for the summer at this point, the PTA, band boosters, or other school organization may already be discussing fundraising plans for the coming year. More efforts to get the kids knocking on doors to sell wrapping paper and nasty pizza kits, right?

Fortunately, a number of eco-entrepreneurs have gotten into the fundraising game, and created opportunities for either selling greener products, or leveraging activities like recycling to raise money for school activities and organizations. A few of the companies involved in this niche after the jump.

Green tech finds (5/27/10)

Article: Green tech finds (5/27/10)

Energy to ice, and cardboard to energy… and much more. Here are your green tech finds for the week:

Nokia still tops in greener electronics: That’s the word from Greenpeace, which released the latest update on its Guide to Greener Electronics. The Finnish company has stayed ensconced in that position; the biggest mover this time was Toshiba, which dropped from 3rd place to 14th. (via Fast Company)
Alabama airships: 21st Century Airships, a division of E-Green Technologies, will build its updated versions of the blimp (they prefer airships) in Alabama… so another win for the green jobs push. The vehicles can be used for transporting cargo and people very efficiently, and could even be employed by the military for high-altitude observation.

New UMass Dartmouth "classroom" requires no building

Article: New UMass Dartmouth "classroom" requires no building

According to South Coast Today, the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth is kind of famous for its buildings: big hulking futuristic concrete structures (Wikimedia Commons has several great photos). But the school’s latest plans for new classrooms won’t require any concrete at all; rather, UMass Dartmouth plans to develop its 400 acres of “forests, meadows, and wetlands” into a “living classroom.”

Princeton Review publishes green college guide

Article: Princeton Review publishes green college guide

Got a student at home trying to make the big choice of a college to attend? Are schools’ commitments to sustainability a part of his/her criteria for choosing one?

If so, your budding collegian isn’t alone: according to the Princeton Review’s 2009 College Hopes & Worries Survey (which solicited information from college applicants and their parents), “66 percent of respondents said they would value having information about a college’s commitment to the environment. Moreover, of that cohort, 24 percent said such information would ‘very much’ impact their decision to apply to or attend the school.”

But where do you find this information?

Creation care for teens: Let There Be… Stuff?

Article: Creation care for teens: Let There Be… Stuff?

The folks at The Story of Stuff Project have been keeping busy! In early March, Annie Leonard’s book The Story of Stuff came out; later that month, the project released “The Story of Bottled Water” for World Water Day. This month, the project moves in some interesting new directions: on Earth Day, they announced the release of Let There Be… Stuff?, “a six-session curriculum that helps Christian teenagers explore the relationship between their consumption, their faith, and the health of the planet.”
While The Story of Stuff has been used for educational purposes since the launch of the first web video, the move into churches (and eventually synagogues… a Jewish version comes out this summer) demonstrates the power of the “creation care” movement. According to the Project, faith leaders began reaching out almost immediately after the original Story of Stuff video came out. In response, The Story of Stuff Project partnered with Green Faith, an “interfaith coalition for the environment,” to produce the curriculum.

A pre-Kinsey Victorian sex survey

Article: A pre-Kinsey Victorian sex survey

photo of Clelia Mosher from the Stanford University Archives

The March/April edition of Stanford Magazine has a fascinating article on Dr. Clelia Mosher, a Victorian-Era scientist, researcher and Stanford professor who conducted the first known sex surveys of women, decades before Kinsey (who’s considered the pioneer of sex research). Even though the sample size is small and represents mostly white, middle-class, educated women, it still goes far in revealing that Victorian repression was an ideology that was pushed on women rather than a reflection of actual views or practices of the time. Below are some highlights from the piece, but the whole thing is worth a read if you’ve got the time.