Monday, July 23, 2012

Tahoma Green Ribbons - State Awards

Four schools, including Tahoma Junior High, were honored today by State Superintendent Randy Dorn for their commitment to environmental leadership.  The award-winning schools, honored at an award ceremony at Bainbridge Island’s IslandWood, all incorporate health and energy management into academics through connections between science, technology, engineering and math, civic skills and green career pathways.

Today’s recognition was an extension of a national competition, open to public and private schools, at the U.S. Department of Education, which named finalists from several states as “Green Ribbon Schools.” Washington had three public-school winners and one private-school winner among 72 schools that won the national award:

Camelot Elementary, Federal Way SD
Secondary Academy for Success, Northshore SD
Tahoma Jr High, Tahoma SD
The Overlake School (private)

 “Their enthusiasm, hard work and creativity demonstrate that we can provide an excellent environment for a well-rounded education with an emphasis on addressing the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century,” Dorn said. “Criteria for this award were rigorous. I applaud the winners for their dedication to making the world a better place.”
State-level awards were given in three categories:

Pillar 1: Environmental Impact and Energy Efficiency
Bryn Mawr Elementary School, Seattle SD
Creekside Elementary School, Sammamish SD
Issaquah Middle School, Issaquah SD
The Jewish Day School, Bellevue SD
Skyridge Middle School, Camas SD
Pillar 2: Healthy School Environments
Bertschi School, Seattle SD
Tahoma Sr. High, Tahoma SD
Pillar 3: Environmental and Sustainability Education
The Evergreen School, Shoreline SD
Glacier Park Elementary, Tahoma SD
Sacajawea Elementary, Vancouver SD
Skyview Jr. High, Bothell SD
The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honors schools that are exemplary in reducing environmental impact and costs, improving the health and wellness of students and staff and providing effective environmental and sustainability education. The program is part of a broader effort by the Department of Education to identify and disseminate knowledge about practices that are proven to result in improved student engagement, higher academic achievement and graduation rates, and workforce preparedness.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Last Day - Camp Snowball

Today was our last day at Camp Snowball and it started out with a general session live chat on Skype with David Coleman. He talked about the common core standards, and the importance of elementary students building reading skills essential for building vocabulary and reading skills and also about deep reading of text for secondary students. 

Later on in our core modules, we made a skit summarizing some of the things we had learned. This helped us show our learning in a more visual way for others because it was filmed and every member played a role. Before we left we got all of our fellow student's email addresses so we could connect with them later on and discuss some of the actions they plan to take during this new school year.

Overall, camp snowball was a great learning experience and I look forward to applying all that I have learned in our school and community.

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Kathryn

Biosphere 2

Partial view of the Biosphere Ocean
Snowball included a chance to select a learning journey from the many great places to visit in and around Tucson.  Our first choice was going to the Biosphere 2.  This was an attempt to create a completely sustainable system that could support humans and other plant and animal life.  It was an amazing experience.  

Life was was tough for the 8 person crews that inhabited the Biosphere 2.   We learned that they couldn't use pesticides to control any pests that potentially threatened their food supply.   If they had used pesticides they would have polluted their entire world (the biosphere).   At camp, when learning about systems thinking, we learned that there were two types of solutions to problems: often one might be a short quicker one and often a more difficult slower solution. Often times, the solution that you invest time and thought into is planned better and takes into consideration more factors of the system, thus making it more likely to work.   In the example for the biosphere the crew knew that dealing with the bugs manually would be better in the long run, although it was certainly a lot harder for them. 
Standing on the Biosphere beach

We have many choices for attacking the problems we have - do we try for solutions that are good for just today or do we try to attack them for the long term (forever!).  What choices do we make? The biosphere is very similar to our planet. Although each of the 5 ecosystems at the Biosphere 2 were unique, they are all tied together. The water and the air is the same across the world. We treat them like they are infinitely replenishing. Water and air,whether we think about it or not, are finite resources that we easily cause to be severely damaged and even unusable.  

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Jayaram

Friday, July 13, 2012

Camp Snowball Day 4

Today, Tony Wagner appeared at our morning general session. He talked about the problems in our education, and that for 25 years, schools were doing the same things and therefore getting the same end results. He explained what was most important, is to pay attention to the time formulation of the problem rather than the solution, and resist the urge to come to a quick answer. He told us the seven survival skills for school, college, and the future. 
  1. Critical thinking/ problem solving (competitive)
  2. Ability to communicate 
  3. Agility and adaptability 
  4. Initiative in entrepreneurship
  5. Effective in oral and written communication
  6. Accessing and analyzing information 
  7. Curiosity and imagination 
And that play, passion, and purpose, were all the keys for education

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Kathryn

Trash: To Be or Not To Be?

Our Data Chart
What people see as trash is not actually trash. We collected some trash bags from the hotel, weighed them, and had 40 pounds of trash.  Then we sorted the trash into compost, recycle, liquids, and garbage. During the process I learned a lot more then I expected "digging in the trash cans." Across the nation recycling varies a lot. From what is recycled, to how recyclable materials are separated. I would not like to mess up your minds by telling you what everyone else is doing, but rest assured, we are more advanced in the Pacific Northwest than many places. 

You can't mix trash into your compost!
We got to check out the trash at the hotel and it was surprising for me to find out that a majority of the trash at the Marriott  was compostable. Recyclable materials and trash were about the same, and liquids were fairly small.  If the hotel trash is similar to homes and everyone were to be compost what they could, according to our calculations using this 40 pound sample, our landfills could be about 20% their current size. 

  • You can compost organic and biodegradable materials. 
  • Recycle correctly and often. 
  • Pour your unwanted liquids down the drain, where it can be treated. 
Save our world by using materials that can be recycled, reused, or composted and try not to use those that have their end of life in a landfill. This is Sustainability 101!

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Jayaram

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Crickets are Cool!

Jumping, hopping, dancing in the sun. The life of a solar cricket is the life to have, these little plastic toys use what we call a solar panel to jump and dance in the sun. A solar panel is a panel that takes in the suns light energy and converts it into electricity, it does this by transferring light through a glass sheet, then it gets converted into energy by traveling through a crystal called silicon. This energy then can power a home, a city, or even a cricket! Enough about the science let's talk about the fun and games, when we were introduced to these little toys in our core module we had a cricket race, there were a few tricks that helped you win the race, when the cricket would start to fall off the track you could cover it with your hand and it would stop then when you would let it go it would magically get back on track to the finish. The thing is, that we were not only introduced to a toy but to something much larger than that, we were introduced to our future, the future of renewable energy! We need to jump off the fossil fuel bandwagon and walk the line of renewable energy sources, wind, hydro, solar, and much much more. Fossil fuel won't last us much longer and the resources we need are in front of us, we just need to use them.

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Jon

Camp Snowball Day 3!

Today the team started right off in our core modules. Today in "Greening Your School, Home and Community," we dove deeper into where our electricity actually comes from and we compared renewable vs. non-renewable resources. In the United States, we get our electricity through a flawed system known as "The grid", where the 
Facilities and lines criss-cross and connect inefficiently across the country. Having individual neighborhoods develop their own power through renewable resources would be much more sufficient. Not only that, but if there was a power outage, not everyone would be at a loss. 
Going back to comparing renewable vs. non-renewable resources, some examples of renewable would be wind mills, hydroelectric plants, geothermal energy, and solar energy.  While some examples of non-renewable energy would be nuclear energy, natural gas, petroleum, and many more that we need to use less of in the U.S. Places like Denmark are committed to becoming 50% renewable, and have committed to becoming 100% renewable by the year 2015. 
But the learning didn't stop there, we also learned about a program called the "Power Down project" from Massachusetts, which was a student led program where they encouraged staff members to not turn on all of their lights at a time, open their windows, and shut down and unplug all of their devices while gone for the weekend or school breaks and are not being used. Mrs. Nance and all of the student leaders gained many ideas from this program and hope to bring them back and maybe implement them into our district. 
Overall, the day was very insightful and all of the student leaders continued to make connections with all of the other students at the camp from around the country and I look forward to attending my core module again tomorrow. 

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Kathryn

Which Would You Choose?

Renewable or nonrenewable???  Our class was first for the day. Greening your School Home and Community. We learned about HVAC systems and their impact on the world. We also learned about different types of sources of energy. Did you know? Countries all over the world are selling us our own power, especially wind power, and making investments off of our country's power usage. Many will buy wind mills and selected pieces of land from us, then over time, selling us our own electricity. Also, Germany has abandoned their nuclear power in favor of renewables. This is a big step that the US may try to learn from. 

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Destiny

Snowballing Engagement

From a meeting at McKinstry Tahoma realized there was a common problem shared by the green teams across the school district, student participation. A major focus for our school district at this camp will to be find out what other school districts are doing for more student engagement. When the core modules begin, I plan to focus on leadership and how I can apply it in our community. "Leadership is action, not position." Gannon McDonald once said. To solve our problem it will take a lot of leadership and action, students get more engaged because they see others. I plan on starting the snowballing effect in my community through the leadership skills and ideas I learn today.

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Jayaram

Hidden Energy Use

My eyes were opened to a new door in sustainability. We never think of the subtle uses of energy or the more hidden truths behind our unsustainable energy derivations. I learned about vampire appliances, but honestly where does the energy come from. I have heard that we need to conserve it, but how much do we really have? The resource that we consume the most is petroleum, but it is primarily used for transportation; what do we power our school with? The average American school burns coal for power. Coal releases so many pollutants, but it is so abundant thus making it very cheap that people are too reluctant to abandon the use of coal. I also learned that the way America gets power is unsustainable, the way we arrange grids are so redundant it is pointless, and we have large power plants based of finite resources, but very few local, renewable power plants. Although we might not be able to rearrange grids, we could try to purchase or implement more green power. The ideas and solutions are so plentiful, that any problem can be solved. I am focusing on thinking positive because sustainability can be made a reality.

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Jayaram

Natural Balance

On Wednesday morning I happened to stumble across a Native American speaker at the hotel. T. Even though it was early in the morning the temperature was blazing, but just watching his intriguing ceremony and his amazing integration of sustainability and culture kept me occupied. And with a lot of water, I was able to stay outside and continue an interview with him about the Native American perception of sustainability and Mother Earth. The smell of burning sage also was very soothing. He went into detail about how we were connected to Mother Earth, and how we needed to protect her. He talked a lot about balance, we don't have to rip apart our cities, we just have to balance the natural world and our build world.

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Jayaram

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Snowball 2

Our day started of at 7:00 am.  When breakfast was finished, our group headed to the opening, a meeting where we got to meet everyone who made this wonderful camp possible. We saw the animals of the state of sunny Arizona, who were poisonous, or mistaken as being poisonous. Remember: the coral snake is incredibly poisonous, but it's cousin, the king snake, who looks very similar, is not poisonous. Don't approach any animal without knowing for sure that is a non-venomous species.   

Testing Devices for Energy Usage in the Hotel Kitchen
Kathryn and I got in a group to discuss recognizing the impact of time delays when exploring cause and effect relationships. We met two people from Milwaukee and one from here in Arizona. We came to the conclusion that you need to think about your actions before actually going ahead and doing it- making a plan. 

Now, we are participating in a World Cafe. Focus. Contribute. Speak. Listen. Link. Connect. Listen together. You talk about things that you care about and spread it throughout your group.

After the group meeting, we broke up into our classes. I was with Kathryn, Jayaram, Jon, Clare Nance, and some new people that I met at Camp. The class was called Greening your school, home, and community. We did a few activities to get to know everyone, then took a "backstage" tour of the hotel and tested the wattage that certain appliances used with a KILL-A-WATT tester. I can already tell that it will be a great class to be  a part of. 

Finally, at the end of the day, we loaded onto the bus at Starr Circle and went down to Tucson Rocks and Ropes for a special rock climbing event just for students. It was amazing!!!!!!! Stef, one of the instructors showed us all the "ropes" of rock climbing and everything needed to know.

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Destiny

Camp Snowball Day 2

Today began with another general session where all of the members of Camp Snowball joined together in the Conference room here at the JW Marriott Star Pass Resort. Something new I tried was the World Cafe. During the World Cafe, we were required to sit with new people and discuss our answers to a couple of given questions such as, "What did you see during the project marketplace?" and "What are somethings you now think are possible for the future?" 
Some of the key World Cafe etiquette Included:
·        Focus on what matters
·        Contribute your thinking
·        Speak your mind and heart
·        Listen to understand
·        Link and Connect
·        Listen together for insights and deeper questions 
(small groups of people coming together and then taking action) 

Our Team is Learning Lots!
Something my group agreed on that we noticed was that a lot of the different groups, had some of the same challenges, but there were a few that have overcome the challenges that we are having, and we can learn from them. 
After lunch, the team split up into our core modules. Mrs. Nance, Destiny, Jon, Jayaram, and I are all in the same module called "Greening your School, Home, and Community." And during today's session, we looked into monitoring the amount of watts used by average appliances around the hotel, and some things we could monitor back at our own schools. And then taking these results and finding out which electronics used electricity even when they weren't turned on so that we could make sure to unplug them, there for reducing our energy usage. Overall, I am looking forward to tomorrows session of core modules to hopefully learn how to overcome some of the challenges that we have encountered along the way towards sustainability.

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Kathryn

I want to suck your energy!

Snowball Day 2:  A vampire appliance would do just this, let's break it  down now, a vampire appliance is an appliance that when off, still uses energy! This not only hurts the environment but also empties your wallet at the end of every month. During core module today, "greening your school and community" we learned how you can kill these "vampires" with simple steps; first of all you want to do is measure ALL your appliances with a measuring tool called a Kill-a-watt meter, this tool is self explanatory, it measures the amount of watts that the appliance uses. Once you find out how many watts your appliance is using while on you can shut it off and also determine if that appliance is a vampire or not. If the Kill-A-Watt meter reads energy flowing then it is a vampire but if the meter reads zero then you are perfectly fine. A way you can get rid of these nasty energy suckers isn't to stab them with a stake, it's to simply unplug them, this makes it so no energy can flow into these inefficient products. Power strips can be your best friend because it is easy to shut off multiple outlets at once rather than unplugging each individual appliance.   

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Jon

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

We're at Camp!

Tahoma school district is at Camp Snowball in Tucson, AZ. Their are four of us students, and seven adults ready to learn more about sustainable ways to live life. By the way that everyone is acting I feel like this will be a very successful conference, but more importantly everyone is eager to see what this trip has in store for the future of the district and our growing community!  My picture today is of the hotel that we are staying at, the Marriott Starr Pass. This place is amazing they have a pesticide FREE garden on the property, and the organic veggies and cactus that they grow in the garden are served to ALL their guests in their amazing restaurant. I'm excited to see what else this trip and this hotel has in store for me over these next few days!

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Jon

Snowball 1

Today began with a perfect mix of nervousness and excitement.  When Camp Snowball began, Peter Senge explained to me why the camp was called Snowball. It wasn't to be ironic, but rather to symbolize the basis of change. The idea was not to hear about sustainable solutions and ideas and just keep these ideas in the back burner, but comprehend them and educate our community. Camp Snowball is about systems thinking and strong integration, but snowballing is about taking this snowball in Arizona and letting it diffuse to every community. We are here to create an avalanche of change! You could just feel the excitement of everyone there even after this long day. Just before dinner we even got to spent sometime just relaxing at the pool.

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Jayaram 

Snowball Day 1

First, I will start off with the key ideas of this wonderful trip, called Camp Snowball. Hopefully, I will be able to build a snowball of ideas and tips to share with Tahoma Junior High school's next year's eager Green Team members. Camp Snowball is all about sustaining our future, since, our generation, IS the future. I am learning the definition of Systems Thinking, and came up with a definition, so far.  Systems thinking Is one big cycle, as if everything were connected, like a giant puzzle that fits together absolutely perfectly.

Since arriving today in lovely Tucson, AZ, I have had a great time. After taking a quick dip in the grand pool, all of us met for our first faculty/student meeting. We participated in a few incredibly fun activities. Two of the speakers of the evening were, Mayor Rothschild, and author, Peter Senge. After the welcoming, we all gathered for a three course salad, entree, and dessert. Since I am a vegetarian, they specially made me quinoa and corn, tightly wrapped in grape leaves. It was such an awesome day!!!!! 
Arizona is pretty hot, but since we got here, Arizona in July just got WAAAAYYY cooler.

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Destiny 

Camp Snowball Day 1


Today our team of student leaders and faculty members involved with the many projects currently going on in Tahoma School district, arrived in Tucson Arizona to attend the five day long camp on Systems Thinking and Sustainability. Upon arrival at the airport, we were greeted with a warm welcome, not only from the sign shown above, but literally, because it was 104 degrees Fahrenheit.  After a quick dip in the pool, the team attended the opening session with special appearances from the mayor of Tucson, Mayor Rothschild, and author Peter Senge. But the session didn't end there, during dinner we were required to engage in an activity that allowed us to meet many more of the people also attending the camp and talk about what work that is happening in their districts and teach them a little about our own. There were a lot of familiar faces from last years Camp session, but also many new faces as well. Overall, the first session was really "cool", and I am looking forward to the first day of our core modules tomorrow. 

Post by Green Team Student Leader, Kathryn