Book Recommendation: Bottlemania

Bottled water is the new normal.  Is that a good thing?

Bottlemania examines the history of bottled water and takes an inside look at just how the big and powerful the water industry has become.

Author Elizabeth Royte not only gives the reader plenty of facts about water, but also shows precisely why water quality matters.  Environmental concerns are addressed throughout, but not in a heavy-handed fashion.

Teachers/Parents – Applications for Education:

This quick and informative read would fit very nicely in a high school science class, and sections could easily be handled by high-level middle school students.   Bottlemania could be added to lessons and units on water, the hydrosphere, water pollution, water treatment, recycling, environmental issues, global warming, etc.

Students might read a chapter and give a book chat to the class summarizing the key issues in their section.   You could also have students create a blog post on certain sections, highlighting key information.

Finally, consider have students reflect on the author’s key points.  Your students could respond to journal prompts, short essay questions, or even hold a debate on controversial water issues.

Project Based Learning: Recycling

Kids learn best by doing, creating, making, leading.  More than ever, teachers are giving their students a chance to take their learning to a higher level through the use of project-based learning (PBL).

What is project based learning?  From Edutopia:

Project-based learning is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges. With this type of active and engaged learning, students are inspired to obtain a deeper knowledge of the subjects they’re studying.

I am a believer in project-based learning.  When done right, my students are engaged and produce some amazing results.  With that said, it can be a burden to put together PBL’s, especially for those not as familiar with them.

Project-based learning = kids engaged and creating! Credit:


Recycling is such an expansive subject area that it can be overwhelming knowing which resources to use with your students.  Have no fear, as this excellent Recycling Project-Based Learning Unit contains everything you’ll need to have a successful and enriching class project.

Teachers/Parents – Applications for Education:

Project-based learning is an exciting way to bring information to life for your students.  The Recycling Project-Based Learning Unit is full of instructions, resources, rubrics, etc, and feel free to adapt the PBL to fit your class and student needs.


World’s Longest’s High-Speed Train

These trains run over 180 mph!  Credit: AP PHOTO/XINHUA, JIAO HONGTAO


China opened the world’s longest high-speed train route this past week and continued their push for fast, efficient, and Earth-friendly travel.

The record setting route runs from Beijing, the nation’s capital, to the southern city of Guangzhou.  That is a trip of 1,428 miles, which is more than a trip from the tip of Florida up to New York City!  The trains on this line run over 180 mph, which add up to about 8 hours of travel time from end to end.


Workers getting the trains ready. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency


High-speed trains are seen as an energy-efficient transportation source that could gain a larger role in future travel.  High-speed train studies have shown that in terms of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, a mature high-speed rail system wins out when it deploys state-of-the-art trains powered by greener electricity. This was true even after accounting for the emergence of more fuel-efficient airplanes and automobiles.

Teachers/Parents – Applications for Education:

You might consider having your students write a creative journal entry with prompts ranging from “What would it be like to ride on this train” to “Would you rather ride on a train, fly in a plane, or ride in a car for 8 hours.”

Also, students could analyze the high-speed train studies and complete a graphic organizer, such as a Venn Diagram, comparing and contrasting transportation methods.

How about some fun creating activities, like having your kids design a high-speed rail line for your city, county, state.  You could tie this into a larger project, possibly built around some focus questions.  Where would the route go?  What would the train cars look like?  Where would the energy come from to power the train?  I am positive many kids would love this unique and creative activity.





The Value of City Parks

Parks provide tremendous value for cities around the world.  From recycling rainwater, revitalizing neighborhoods, reclaiming former landfills, to helping city sewage systems, parks are extremely beneficial.  Additionally, think of all the personal benefits, like improved health, that parks provide.

Recently, city and urban parks were discussed, studied, and praised at the Greater and Greener International Urban Parks Conference.  Many experts presented on topics like future innovations, recreational infrastructure, and building sustainable urban parks.

It’s clear how important parks are, and conferences like this highlight progressive thoughts for a better future.

Teachers/Parents – Applications for Education:

Students could spend some time looking through the conference website.  You may have them use 21st century skills to create an online poster promoting the conference.  Resources like Glogster, Powerpoint, or Google Docs would work. You may also have your students make a list and discuss what sessions they would like to attend if they were at the conference.

With parks in mind, you can have your students consider interesting short essay questions on local parks.  What positive impacts do they have on your community?  How could they be made better?  What areas are available for the creation of new parks?


Edible Packaging

Credit:  © Photo © Phase One Photography


Gotta be a joke, right?  Packaging you can eat?

Well it’s in developmental stages, but inventor and engineer David Edwards is working hard to make it a reality.

WikiCells is a form of edible packaging that will attempt to eliminate society’s wasteful addiction to packaging.  Sadly, millions of tons worth of commercial packaging ends up in landfills each year, according to the EPA.   Wikicells enclose food and drink inside soft skins that are entirely comprised of natural food particles held together by nutritive ions, and generally protects the soft skins with hard shells that are either completely edible (like an orange peel) or varied biodegradable (like the shell of a coconut.)

Bon appetit?

Teachers/Parents – Applications for Education:

Your kids will enjoy looking through the Wikicells website and exploring more about this extremely innovative idea.  After further research, consider having them answer or discus some thought-provoking questions, such as:

  • Would you eat edible food packaging like WikiCells?  Why or why not?
  • What foods would be the easiest to make edible packaging for?  What foods would be the toughest?
  • What are some other ways you can think of to reduce food packaging waste?




Free Recycling Posters



The more reminders our kids have to go green, the more likely they are to make a difference!

These free recycling posters from WM are ideal for school classrooms, hallways, and offices.

Teachers/Parents – Applications for Education:

These posters can inspire our kids, so printing them out is certainly an option.  If you’re looking to avoid using paper, consider showing the images on a class board (Smart Board, Promethean, etc) and lead a discussion about the posters and their meaning.

Even better, consider having your students create their own recycling posters for your school using programs like Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Docs, Glogster, or similar online resources.  You can display the best student-created posters and even turn this activity into a rewarding contest for your students.

Planet Earth . . . Narrated by Kids

Planet Earth is extremely well done nature documentary that was narrated by David Attenborough.   Who’s he, you ask?  Attenborough is one of the world’s best known natural history film-makers.  His voice is recognizable the world ever.

While he does a great job, watch while kids give his job a try.  Be ready to laugh!

Teachers/Parents – Applications for Education:

Laugh with your kids!

After all the smiles, you could try this with your students too using audio recording software or resources like Vocaroo or Audacity.  They would have a blast, young and old!

Colleges Go Green: Ohio State

Many colleges around the country are becoming more and more involved in sustainability and protecting our environment.

With over 64,00 students, The Ohio State University is one of the largest colleges in America.  The school has focused on campus-wide recycling efforts, clean energy and environmental research, green curriculum, and green building practices.

Whether it is reducing waste at their football stadium, studying global warmings effects on coral reefs, or helping communities gain access to clean water, Ohio State is making a positive difference for our planet.

Teachers/Parents – Applications for Education:

After looking through some of the school’s green initiatives, your students could create a list or short essay on similar things that could be done to help at your school or local college.  This would be a good discussion piece for class to brainstorm around.

A small project could even be started whereby your students had to create and present a plan to their classmates or peers on Earth-friendly initiatives that should be considered for your school.   Not only would your kids learn and create green plans, they would also get wonderful presentation skill practice.  That’s a win-win for sure!

Earth Day Facts

How did Earth Day begin?  Who started it?  How can I help?  National Geographic has the answers with their detailed overview of Earth Day facts.

The article highlights what Earth Day is, how it began, and what you can do to help.

Teachers/Parents – Applications for Education:

While reading through this with your kids or class, you could create a KWL chart.  This chart will document what you Know, what you Want to learn about, and what was actually Learned after reading.  This chart could be done individually, in small groups, or as a whole class activity.

Additionally, after finishing, you could have your kids brainstorm and create any additional questions they’d like answers to regarding Earth Day.


National Parks on Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!

How about celebrating with a visit to one of America’s National Parks . . .

Credit: NPS/Dan Ng

From April 21-29, the National Park Service is offering free admission to all 397 National Parks.  The free week offer is an incentive for Americans to experience and enjoy the parks as well as “take an active role in preserving these special places,” the park service website says.

Additionally, two new free apps have been released by the National Park Service to help visitors learn more about the parks.

Teachers/Parents – Applications for Education:

Taking your kids to a National Park would be awesome, and if you live close enough, enjoy your free visit this week!

For those who aren’t as close, you could use the free National Park apps and create a virtual field trip or scavenger hunt.

Finally, for higher-level learning that matches 21st century skills, consider having your kids create a marketing deal that coincides with Earth Day.  For example, they pick a business (let’s say Burger King) and they are to come up with some type of Earth Day advertising and marketing idea to attract customers.  That’s fits the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy goals to a T . . . give it a try!