Wednesday, May 30, 2012

First Community Workshop

In a ground-breaking move students from Tahoma in partnership with the City of Maple Valley and others led the first Storm water Pollution Community Workshop.  To an audience of district staff, school board, parents, students, Maple Valley City leaders, and community members the students from Glacier Park and Tahoma Student Leaders from the Watershed Report Team helped to educate all of us on some of the pollution going into Puget Sound through our Storm water we each are responsible for.  In fact, the many people living around Puget Sound are much larger contributors to the pollution in Puget Sound today than any of our industries.   Tahoma School District, City of Maple Valley, Friends of the Cedar River Watershed, and the Watershed
A Garden Song led by teacher Kyobi Hinami 

Tahoma - Effective Communicators!
Our young Glacier Park students certainly stole the show, under the expert guidance and coaching of Peter Donaldson, from Friends of the Cedar River Watershed.  Students gave expert voice to both the causes of stormwater pollution and solutions.  I know I was extraordinarily proud of the wonderful work of our students as students from both 3rd and 5th grade at Glacier Park along with 4 of our junior and senior high Watershed Student Leadership team helped tell a compelling story and educate us all.  At the end of the evening program students took us on a tour of the GPES gardens and showed off the rain garden, currently under construction with planting just days away.

Thanks to the teamwork of Peter, our teachers (Cathy Haws and Kyobi Hinami) and sponsorship from principal, Chris Thomas, who were willing to be pioneers with this event.  These wonderful leaders supported our students to showcase their talents and knowledge in a fun, engaging, and informative way that we hope makes a difference in the behaviors of all as we make choices about day to day activities that impact our environment.  
Thanks to Peter and all our Student Presenters

Monday, May 28, 2012

Grant Award - Energy Savings!

Tahoma was awarded $332,325 recently in a competitive grant process through OSPI.  To qualify for the funds, our maintenance and operations staff conducted an audit of all our school facilities to determine improvements that would save the most energy and be beneficial overall.  Great job to Lori Cloud and our operations staff plus our resource conservation management team from McKinstry!  We will make about $350,000 in improvements to our buildings, having a lasting impact to save us money in the future by reducing energy costs.  Our community and voters will appreciate that we will only spend about $25,000 to make that happen, with the state grant and some energy saving rebates from Puget Sound Energy.  It's a great investment and a heck of a bargain for our district.    

An interactive map of all the projects awarded across the state 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Students Assess the Health of a Forest

Our 7th grade students are heading out for a field experience at the Lake Wilderness Arboretum.  This week students from Cedar River Middle School are out in the woods and next week it will be Tahoma Middle School.

Students are applying what they have been learning in science class to assess the health of the forest and getting a chance to give back to our community by assisting with trail restoration.

Following the Urban Forester Protocol, teams of students marked out circular plots in the forest using ropes and flags. Then they measured and identified the trees within the circle, observed the canopy cover, and removed invasive plants such as holly.  Students will be analyzing their data on the health of the forest plot and making recommendations to the arboretum board of directors on actions necessary to maintain or improve the health of the forest plot.  This provides an authentic audience and real work for our students to engage with as they apply their learning in the classroom.  This is truly Classroom 10!

For the remainder of their time at the arboretum students engaged in a service project, practicing our Tahoma Outcome Community Contributor, working to restore access to the forest trails by clearing downed branches.  It was a big job after the ice storm last winter!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Earthworm Soil Scientists

The earthworm is one of nature's top "soil scientists." The earthworm is responsible for a lot of the things that help make our soil good enough to grow healthy plants and provide us food.

Worms help to increase the amount of air and water that gets into the soil. They break down organic matter, like leaves and grass into things that plants can use. When they eat, they leave behind castings that are a very valuable type of fertilizer.

In the picture above, Glacier Park students are harvesting worm castings to be used in the garden.

Thanks to Green Team Leader, Cathy Haws
and the GPES Green Team students for this blog post!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Vertical Gardening - Students Build UP!

Thorough Cleaning is a Critical First Step

GPES is building quite a array of food garden plots.  The newest addition is a demonstration vertical garden.

Students cleaned used gutters to re-purpose in the garden.  The gutters were then painted and filled with soil and worm castings from our worm bin.  Finally, gutters were painted and hung on the existing chain link fence.

Great Team Work - We are Ready to Plant 
Cub Scout Pack 3 helped us to plant the gutters with radishes.

The vertical garden demonstrates a gardening option for small spaces and supports Glacier Park’s commitment to teaching environmental responsibility through the 3 R’s.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Thanks to Green Team Leader, Cathy Haws and the GPES Green Team students for this blog post!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Impact our World - RECYCLE

We have such wonderfully creative students! Click the link below to watch a great video from our GPES Green Team and the zero hour Broadcasting students.  The video was a collaborative effort between the two teams and all the work including filming, editing, and creative production was done by students in grades 2-5.  Thanks to the GPES team for creating and producing such an important message for our community.  

Take 5 minutes and let the students from GPES bring a smile to your face.  This video is worth sending the link on to a friend to share a smile and pass on the message.  
Learn some new ideas for what you can do to help in our sustainability efforts.     

Thanks to Green Team Leader Cathy Haws and the GPES Green Team students & Zero Hour Broadcasting Students for this blog post!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Rain Garden - Where Do We Site It?

 Our Shadow Lake Green Team students have been busy doing real-world science as they determine the best location for a rain garden.  The students wrote the following blog post to share their experiences.

We tested 3 rain garden sites at Shadow Lake Elementary in April by digging holes, filling them with water, and measuring how long it took for the water to go into the soil. Before we added water, we checked the soil at the bottom of the hole to see if it was “sticky clay” or “crumbly dirt”—which we wanted to find. We were amazed at how much gravel we found in our Shadow Lake soil!

Here are our findings of the three possible rain garden sites:
  • Site 1 (Library Grass/Flowerbed)—excellent drainage and right next to a downspout
  • Site 2 (Grassy area between Library and parking lot)—much clay, drained slowest, but could have worked as a site
  • Site 3 (Grassy area with flowering cherry tree)---also had excellent drainage, but not near a downspout

Thanks to Green Team Leaders,  Liz White and Sue Chase 
and the SLES Green Team students for this blog post!