Sunday, July 28, 2013

Commitment to Action!

Last year Camp Snowball grounded me to reality in terms of sustainability. This year it has taught me how to move forward with my ideas. There are so many visionaries in the world, yet very few people know how to push forward. That is a vital skill that I learned this year. I was in the module focused on innovation. This module prompted me to look into the future and see where I could improve and innovate on the world. But then I had to actually draft plans with budgets and clarify my detailed step-by-step actions. This really taught me the difference between talking-the-talk and walking-the-talk. I now know how to go about building a better reputation for the Green Team and ensuring success for the Waste Free Wednesdays.

Post by Student Leader Jayaram

Friday, July 26, 2013

Inspiration from Innovation

The most interesting part of the day was the opening when we got to hear Nancy Conrad talk about her program and how it connects to systems thinking. We also got to talk with two of her students and hear about their work of innovation. It was amazing to see the difference in view that we have in what we are interested in under the same category. The difference I noticed most was the audience we were directing our ideas to. They had a product that measured the air quality, so there for their audience was people that have breathing medical issue. On the other hand our product you may say was not a physical object but a rather idea or program. This experience opened my mind and helped me realize how many different topics fall under the topic of innovation. This was the highlight of my day and something that I truly connected with

Post by Student Leader Madlin

Learning Journey to Sciquarium

Today, we took our learning journeys (basically a field trip to somewhere around camp), and I loved it. My learning journey was going to the zoo and Sciquarium. We saw a lot of animals and I realized that all the animals here, in this amazing local North Carolina zoo, were brought there under the wing of caring zoo employees. When it was in trouble, the zookeepers came to its rescue. I think it's a great idea to have animals in a zoo where the wildlife and predators weren't successful in their home environment. If we just take custody of them for no reason, then that could possibly ruin the relationships in the animal's natural area. If people did this more often, the animal kingdom would be much better compared to how it is now.

Post by Student Leader Megan

Nanotech is Astounding

 Today, I had the privilege of visiting the Nanotech center for Wake Forest University. In the center, it was fascinating to learn about the technology of the future based on the chemistry practices we currently already know. There were many demonstrations of nano technology given, such as a “bubble” that could potentially be used to be injected into cancer patients to connect to the cancer cells and over heat them as well. These bubbles were developed through nano technology, manipulating the structure of atoms, and should be expected to finalize and fully develop within the next twenty years, eliminating the factor of harmful side effects that cancer treatment usually brings. There were also other useful technologic developments, such as lightweight lights that can be completely two dimensional, creating energy conservation and a brighter light projected as well. Surprisingly, these two very different future concepts were started the same way! Through a very specific microscope to examine, change and align molecular structure to design an all new structure to behave differently than traditional molecular structures. Based on the alignment created, this can determine how the newly developed nano technology will function. In the picture below, this microscope is one of those molecular microscopes that can create new nano technology. Estimated cost of this microscope is around 3 million dollars, and is often used very meticulously. I was astounded to see such a large, complex microscope, yet at the same time I wanted to know everything about it!  It was quite a bit of information to process, but after getting my questions of future impact answered, I understand that these new developments will be more sustainable in energy conservation, saving money, and ultimately progressing and revolutionizing humanity and the physical issues that we deal with, the concrete global issues, the most important things in our world.

Post by Student Leader Kylin

A trip to the Zoo

I chose to explore the Greensboro Science Center for the learning journey. The zoo had many animals that we got to see up close such as this stunning tiger. There was a team of college students experimenting with a monkey to train him to play target-and-match, see picture attached. It is fascinating to learn about animal cognition and their capabilities. Sometimes I wonder if they understand how much humans are damaging our co-inhabited planet.

Most of the species in the aquarium and zoo are endangered. Animals are caged in this zoo or confined to a tank in the aquarium, but it is sad to think that they are probably doing better in the tank or cage than in their natural habitats as a result of our unsustainable actions. I know that coming to this camp always broadens my ways of thinking and adds confidence in my mission to take and encourage sustainable action.

Post by Student Leader Jayaram

Next Generation Research

A pretty fancy microscope! 
Today following our Core Modules, everyone at camp embarked on different Learning Journeys across the town of Winston Salem. While some of the Tahoma Team went to the Zoo or the Renolda Arts Center, Kylin and I ventured to the Nano Center. While there, we got a first hand look into the progression of multiple revolutionary inventions that could possibly be sold within the next 20 years. For example, we heard from a young physics major working on a project that would allow doctors to inject a "bubble" type substance with a heat generating chemical that could accurately be sent to the area of a cancerous tumor within the body, and then release the chemical to effectively burn up the cancer cells. The invention was even tested on a rat and within one day, the tumor had entirely dissipated. Overall the level of intelligence, patience and hard work that goes into the process of innovating these products is astounding and I am looking forward to seeing them benefit people world wide in the near future. 

Post from Student Leader Kathryn

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Game On!

While presenting on the Tahoma School District the day before Tracy Benson, Program Manager for Systems Thinking in Schools - Waters Foundation, advised me to really pay attention today morning to Nancy Conrad and the winning team's story. She thought that it would be a great fit for our Tahoma team. I had already heard about it directly from Nancy Conrad when she presented to my class on innovation. But today morning she presented to the entire Camp and the winning team let us in on some hints. It was inspiring to hear about the story of her husband and why the competition was created. Clearly the most enthusiasm for the project came from the Tahoma team, who asked the most questions. The project is very comprehensive as they require both a scientific and business justification. But Tahoma has prepared us for a challenge like this, and I want to take this one on!

Post by Student Leader, Jayaram

Innovation Challenge!

Married to the 3rd man to land on the moon, Nancy Conrad has started the Spirit of Innovation Competition in his honor. The challenge forces you to use systems thinking. Nancy wondered why high school students couldn't do amazing things. So the competition allows students to create innovative products as a team to better humanity. The team that won this year was actually from NC, they created an air-quality detector. This device could detect the ozone in the air. Ozone's presence can actually increase the chance for death through lung inflammation. Tahoma is a school that is so far advanced in sustainability and systems thinking that this challenge is something that we could take on!

Post by Student Leader, Jayaram

It's the Little Things!

Today was day two of our core module classes. Today during that class we self directed our learning by creating our very own lesson to teach to the adults in the class. While reviewing the lesson we chose to teach with the leader of our class, Kylin was playing with a ladybug she found at the table we were sitting at. I was watching the ladybug as it crawled through Kylin's fingers I had the greatest 'Ah ha' moment I think I have ever experienced. I realized that if we are going to care for nature at all, we need to care for the little things too, not just the big things that seem more important. Sometimes the little things that we don't see are the most life threatening. We need to care for all of nature or it doesn't even matter if we do anything at all.

Post by Student Leader Megan

Experience of a Lifetime! (so far...)

Panel Discussion
Today I was able to have a true experience of a lifetime. I participated in a panel with Peter Senge, in which I got to speak with teachers and fellow students. I was amazed at the dedication that both the teachers and the students showed as the conversation went on. The personal stories that people shared were relatable, and I was able to connect to the feelings expressed at the panel on a personal level. I came to the realization that we all have the same idea of wanting to make a change, and that we all want to take the steps through system thinking to accomplish complex situations. Complex situations often seem impossible to solve, but talking about the approach to solve these situations, connecting students and teachers, is ultimately the most inspiring thing that occurred to me tonight. The panel gave me the chance to recap the idea that both students and staff work exceptionally hard to achieve greatness for each other. I believe that once we realize that, collaboration and associations with each other absolutely creates a solid foundation to teach future generations to come about how to prepare for the world we live in today. The education system often undergoes multiple changes, some better than others. Regardless, we learn as we experience different teaching methods and curriculum. Nothing will ever be perfected, but by the work that we have been doing at Camp Snowball the past 5 years, it makes a great difference to those who choose to make a change. In the picture given here, there is myself seated with the members of the panel. It was an honor to be seated with these people tonight, and I learned about the true connection we all share with our passion for the future and what we want to accomplish in our communities.

Post by Student Leader, Kylin

A Question to Answer

How do we connect students from across the country all doing similar work to us?  That's the question we were tasked with!. Part of our discussion was how to keep camp going after we leave. We are leading a meeting with other students from camp snowball on how we can share our ideas and bring ideas back with us to our schools throughout the year and we have a great design for doing that. 

Today, we also met with Mrs. McHennry about ideas we want to start next year and what we want to carry on from the previous year.  In each of our schools we will be doing Green Team activities throughout the year.  

Post from Student Leader, Madlin

It Starts with Planning!

We have been planning for the start of school with Mrs. McHenry. We came to the conclusion that we wanted to get the word out that green team isn't just ' tree huggers', and that we need kids to help with art, filming, acting, etc, and we brainstormed ideas for how to do that. We came up with some ideas that we are very excited to see happen!

Next, we got to plan a networking meeting with other student leaders from across the countrly. Tahoma gets to take the lead in this! We collaborated and came up with a really good theme and built the rest based on that. It was cool for me to work with a group of students that were all working towards the same goal because it made it easy to work well together. Everyone had there own ideas and contributions that make it easy to create a great meeting plan. I was also impressed that we were able to easily go from having no idea what were doing to a full plan that we all agreed on and had a part of, in such a short amount of time. This year we have a great team!  

Post by Student Leader Grace

Connections at Snowball!

It's a day of firsts for us at Snowball!  While Jon, Kylin, and I were in the 'Nature As A Context Of Science' class, Kathryn, Jayaram, Savannah, Madlin, and Grace were in the 'Innovating for a Healthy Future' class. In nature As A Context, the leaders of the module went over specific things that the program they run does for the environment. It is a non-profit organization yet they do get lots of donations for their hard work. They make sure every child gets the chance to experience the outdoors, provide a mentor for the child to help them understand the environment.  They help the ecosystem if it needs support and schools as well. I think it's a good idea that they are doing this to young students. The kids are the future. We need to help and protect the future as they need it.

After our module classes, we went back to the meeting room where we met that morning and discussed what we liked and thought, "wow, we could really use that, that's a good idea!" We got together in groups of four with people we didn't know, and basically just shared what we thought was interesting. I was paired up with a man from the Philippines, a lady from Illinois, and North Carolina. It was nice to see people's different points of views.

On another note, we went to see a baseball game which was really fun. It was a great way to connect with people from the other parts of the country. I loved it. They even won! I'm glad we have such a good group this year and I hope we all stay connected even when we leave. It would be a great way to share what new updates we have in our schools or just to be friends. I love you guys!

Post by Student Leader, Megan

Tahoma Connects Across the Country!

Starting the day off, I was beyond excited to begin the modules and continue to meet and connect with students and teachers from all over the United States. The module I took part of was Nature incorporated with Learning Science (using it in context), which is an inquiry based class that takes a scientific approach to evaluating our environment. I have a large interest in science, and enjoyed the activities right away. Being able to work and share things I am passionate about, such as science, is such an honor and opportunity for me to do. I carried on scientific thoughts and ideas as our groups moved on to the Project Market Place presentations. I presented about Tahoma Green Team and what our whole entire district is doing to continue to work towards a central theme of sustainability.  I talked to individuals from all over! Such as the Philippines, New York, California, and more. It amazed me that so many people in our country alone work so passionately and effectively to achieve greatness and leaving lasting impacts that will form our future generations to come. I felt inspired and empowered while having these conversations, and I could have stood at our display all day talking to people! 

With such little time we have been here so far, I already feel such connection, motivation and respect from everyone here at Camp Snowball. I am ecstatic to continue on tomorrow, with hands on approach to learning that I can continue to gain knowledge from to take back to the Tahoma Green Teams this year. This opportunity has opened my eyes to so many ideas and connections I would not have thought of on my own, and I am very grateful for this opportunity. I am enjoying meeting new students, and working with them on common interests and ideas. I plan to use this week at camp to accomplish as much work as I am assigned, and enjoy the learning as it happens! In the picture to the left is a photograph I took last night on my walk back home to my dorm with fellow Senior Jon Cantalini. The architecture here is stunning!
Post by Student Leader, Kylin

What a Day!

Wow wow wow, just what a day. I definitely did not get any sleep but that didn’t stop me. (Or any other Tahomies for that matter.) The day started with breakfast of course, but then it was off to the opening and general session.  Opening session we watched this video on a group of students who created “the breakfast club” who did random acts of anonymous kindness for one another. I really found that touching. I think that is something simple that we could do as a school as well which I would just love.

At my core module we learned about innovating. We also had a guest speaker who talked about stem and having students innovate to make a better future. I think it would be incredible (and Dawn I know you thought this too!) if we could take problems in our community, state, country, or even the world and gave them opportunities to think with teams. Then they could create solutions. Not only is it hands on learning but it improves the world/community.  

General session in the afternoon was phenomenal too! I made some great teacher adult friends and got to share about my personal goal I want to snowball. All in all it was a phenomenal day!

Post by Student Leader, Savannah

An Important Snowball Idea!

Today at Camp Snowball, we started off the day with a grand opening session at which everyone at camp attended. Right away I noticed a reoccurring theme that would come to appear a multitude of times though out the day as well. And that is, "The Snowball Effect". The Snowball Effect is basically the idea of a small action or goal that is in the works to start off, growing into a much larger one over time. The entire idea centers around scaling the idea, it's exponential growth, growth over time, and then sustaining that momentum of growth as it goes on. 

In fact, our very own student Jayaram spoke on a panel at the opening session. He spoke about what he has seen and would like to see "snowball" in Tahoma School District. He spoke first about our commitment to composting and recycling in all our schools already, and then moved into our recent launch of the Waste Free Wednesdays program across the district. Something he would like to see continue to snowball is the improvement and growth of support towards our Waste Free Wednesdays program throughout the year.

Personally, something I would like to see Snowball in Tahoma school district is eliminating the negative connotation associated with our Green Teams. Our club is not about being a "tree hugger" as some would call it. It is about helping students build sustainable habits for themselves to use for the rest of their lives, while also working towards modifying our community to better benefit the environment in any way we can. If students came to understand how important and interesting our work is, then we would be likely to have more support. And our plan to eliminate this negative image is first to enlist the help of drama, film making and art students from our very own schools. Sometimes public speaking is not everyone's strong suit, but students should know that there are different ways that they can help us with our club, that could actually be of their interest. For example, we would love to have our extremely talented art students create artwork to promote our club. Or have our articulate drama students act in a video to educate our student body. Overall, my day was very insightful and I now am excited to return to my core module tomorrow to further develop our plan to build this snowball.

Post by Student Leader, Kathryn

Tahoma Gets Started at Snowball

After a long day of traveling the night before, the Tahoma team conducted a Sustainability ambassador student meeting led by Kim McHenry! During this meeting, we not only discussed our hopes and plans for the following year in Tahoma School District. We also talked about what struggles we were facing at our individual schools and soon found places where these struggles overlapped. And this new found communication between the students of the Green Teams across the district helped us better develop solutions to these problems by taking past experiences and applying them to new situations from each other. The meeting as a whole was ground breaking and we discussed many possible strategies to apply once arriving back in Washington.

Jayaram sharing during the opening program
But that's not all. Later on in the day, us students met up with Dawn Wakeley to discuss and plan for our Student Network Meeting. In previous years at Camp Snowball, we have only had mild success in connecting with other students from camp after the 5 day trip is over. But this year we hope to connect with the other students all year long through the use of technology in order to allow us to gather new ideas from across the country while also sharing our work with them. At this meeting each attending student will share the work that they are doing, and learn what others are working on as well.

Post by Student Leader, Kathryn

Checking in from Camp Snowball

It's actually the day before Camp starts and we are here early.  We were up and exploring the campus. We walked around the college, looking in stores, and a couple of us bought sweatshirts and other merchandise. Around mid-afternoon, we had a meeting with Ms. Wakeley. We talked about what we could do for a meeting with all the rest of the students on Wednesday. We ended up deciding on and instagram hash tag where the kids from Camp Snowball tag 'whatssnowballing' and soon there will be a whole page of this tag. 

Jon, the mastermind behind most of all our ideas, came up with this one.  Soon we started seeing this tag on notification handouts we got at dinner that night. Our decision had gone 'viral' to the Snowball community. All of us Tahoma students were very proud of everyone else in our group. Thanks for making it such a great experience!   :)

Post by Student Leader, Megan

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Snowball - A Look at What's to Come

Day 2- A Surreal Look of What's to Come:

WakeForest University
Today was the planning day for us Tahoma students, as the new campers arrived we sat in our air conditioned room building up a plan of action to connect and share ideas from one side of the world to another. It all started as a seed -- I guess you could call it -- of “how can we connect to those who weren't in our own backyard?” As we began to stir up some ideas slowly watering our seed the idea of using a social network came up, we discussed Facebook and Twitter but who likes to read all those posts anymore, not us! 

So, the idea of Instagram popped into my head, this is one of the newer social media sites that has been added to the internet circuit, but the difference is that it is all about posting pictures rather than writing a paragraph of nonsense that people never get around to exploring. Instagram opened up a whole new world of opportunities, so we decided to snowball off that idea, people would post pictures of projects they have completed or are in the process of completing and share their contact info in the caption to the picture so if people wanted more information to start that snowball in their community, they would be able to get it. The only flaw to this equation was that we needed a way to group all these posts and pictures together, and boom, the idea of creating a universal hashtag came into play. we mulled over a couple different ideas till the phrase came to us #WHATSSNOWBALLING. 

Instagram did the rest, it took all the pictures with that hashtag and grouped them into one separate document, all you needed to do was click the highlighted hashtag! This is a simple yet effective way to reach those around you, and the way you can get involved is just by downloading the app to your smartphone or logging on to registering online at So try it out or come join in the fun because it only takes one to get the snowball rolling!

Post by Student Leader, Jon C

Camp Snowball - BDay Trip!

Jayaram and his own B-Day Pizza!

At five o'clock am my alarm blared alerting me of the jam packed day full of travel ahead of me. I was so excited for camp snowball. I couldn't wait to meet my returning friends from other schools across the nations. It was such a great experience last year. But I knew it was going to be different this year, it was at a university with dorms instead of a luxurious hotel, and it was humid instead of dry heat. With a fresh year of experience and new knowledge that I will gather I am ready to enlarge the snowball and get it rolling in our community. I knew I spent my birthday traveling on an airplane for a good cause.

Post by Student Leader, Jayaram

Friday, July 12, 2013

E3 Night of Awards for Sustainability!

I couldn’t be more proud of my district

Just over a week ago, several members of Tahoma School District attended E3 Washington’s Three E’s Summer award ceremony. The ceremony was held to recognize winners of the 2013 Green Apple Awards, the Green Ribbons Schools Awards and the E.P.A.’s Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators. As representatives stepped up to accept the awards, many people in the audience began to perk up as they noticed that Tahoma had received many awards. Tahoma Administrators, such as Mike Maryanski, Dawn Wakeley and more, attended the ceremony to receive the 2013 Green Leader Award for our district. Tahoma School District was awarded the Green District Leader Award for Pillar 1, reducing environmental impact and costs, and pillar 3, providing effective environmental and sustainability education, of the Green Ribbon Schools Program. Tahoma High School and Glacier Park elementary School Administrators were also in attendance along with the school’s Green Team Advisor to accept the 2013 Green Ribbon Schools Award for Washington State. Both Schools were also honored for the national award at a ceremony in Washington D.C on June5th. It was a great moment for each school and the district as a whole.

It was also an important moment for me. Just after graduating from Tahoma High School in early June I attended the ceremony to accept E3 Washington’s 2013 Green Apple Award for being a student leader in environmental education. I was nominated by several members of Tahoma School District because of my work as president of the high school green team and as a project leader on the Stormwater Pollution Solutions grant team.

 As I accepted my award along with other members of the district, I knew that I was there because of their support. My teachers and administrators provided me with the strong support and skills to be an environmental and civic leader. When I was a young 9th grader, Tahoma’s Sounding Off on the Puget Sound project inspired me to starting using my skills to increase my learning while also making a difference in my community. Tahoma’s strong green team development empowered me year after year to continue developing projects to help the community. Knowing that I have had so much support along the way makes me feel so proud to be a part of Tahoma School District. I feel confident that as we continue to increase collaboration and move towards a sustainable community, more and more students, faculty and citizens will feel the same pride for their schools and district.

Thanks to Cassandra Houghton for this post!