Where does our food come from? How many places does the slice of cheese on our burger see before it ends up on our plate?
At Brooklyn Children's Museum, we teach a program for school groups called, "It's Easy Being Green." We cover topics like proper recycling, energy efficiency, and sustainable food choices. The food activity splits kids into groups; each group is responsible for piecing together the life cycle of one ingredient on a burger. They're given cards that each represent one phase in, for instance, the journey of a slice of cheese.
Now, here's the challenge: After students have pieced together the journey of their cheese (there are twenty cards or steps for the cheese alone!) they have to figure out how to remove pieces of the production-distribution-consumption-waste system to make the whole thing more sustainable. How can we get this slice of cheese to travel less? This activity can lead to great discussions on Farmer's Markets, local food, and composting.
Want to try this activity with your class? Email GoGreen[at]Brooklynkids.org for a PDF version of the full set of Hamburger life cycle cards!
Public transportation is part of sustainable Brooklyn!
You’re helping the Earth every time you use your MetroCard. Public transit uses only half the fuel a car uses per mile. For every bus, 30 to 40 fewer cars are on the road. A packed train car carries as many people as about 100 cars!
Thanks to the MTA and New Yorkers use of public transportation, our city is one of the greenest in the world. You can use buses and subways to take you all over New York City without using a car.
Public transportation is an example of Travel Green.
Bikes can get you far and keep you healthy. They use muscle power instead of the fuel that powers cars. When going for a long ride for fun, use one of these scenic bike paths. You’ll be far from the cars and much safer than on the street!
The website NYC Bike Map has an online guide to all the bike paths in New York City. However, not all of them are kid-friendly. The bike paths we have marked in yellow are “greenways,” paths that are very clearly divided from the street for extra child-protection.
Are you looking for ways to re-invigorate your teaching? There are lots of great options for professional development this winter! Check out these workshops that will help you add a sustainable focus to your classroom:
Environmental Explorations NYC at Van Cortlandt Park
This program uses hands-on activities to bring NYC’s local outdoor resources and nature into the classroom and enhance classroom learning. Materials covered include Project WILD, Project WET, Project Learning Tree and more, in addition to introducing teachers to local environmental resources. Teachers will be provided with new strategies for introducing environmental topics in connection with math, literacy, and art, fostering student leadership and developing higher order thinking skills.
The program is from February 20 to February 25, 2012. To register, visit the After School Professional Development’s website at http://schools.nyc.gov/Teachers/aspdp and view their spring course catalog. With questions, contact Sara Kempton, Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, 718-601-1553 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creative Infusion: The Art of Reuse at Materials for the Arts
Materials for the Arts is an amazing warehouse of art supplies in Queens. This course, which offers P-credits, gives you access to the warehouse and teaches you how to problem solve through reuse and how to create games, books, costumes and sets, puppets, and mosaics. The course incorporates literacy and math into activities. The program takes place over 6 Saturdays. For details and information about registration and fees, check out their website.
If you are teaching your K-5 class in New York City about waste management, trash, recycling, or any related topic, you have to check out the Department of Sanitation’s NYC Teachers’ RRResource Kit: RRR You Ready?. The guide contains materials for teaching about reducing, reusing, and recycling and the content is always specific to New York City. The guide contains:
Lesson plans and activity sheets for grades K-5 that comply with Department of Education standards.
Ideas for hands-on projects and long-term activities.
VHS and DVD RRR videos on What Happens To Your Recyclables, offering a virtual tour of a recycling plant; and the story of the TrashMasters!,kids who learn how to reduce, reuse, and recycle at their school.
These really are incredible resources which will help you teach waste management in your classroom or get your entire K-5 school ready for a school-wide recycling program. What will you do with DSNY’s RRResources?
As we’ve pointed out before, recycling is a sustainable buzzword. But too often kids (and their adults) learn very little about the mechanics of recycling. So that is going to be our focus for the next few days.
If you’re teaching kids about recycling, start with a video. Here in New York City, the Department of Sanitation contracts recycling to certain companies. Pratt Industries is one such company – they buy half of New York City’s paper and take it to a factory on Staten Island, where it is turned into cardboard boxes.
When kids see the process of recycling, they better understand the concept – taking waste and turning into something new. Watching this video will take recycling from a buzzword to a concept that kids can relate to and understand.
We’ve been talking about birds this week and last. If you’re looking for hawks, in addition to all the fantastic Pale Male resources, check out Urban Hawks.
This fantastic blog, written by a local bird enthusiast with great camera skills, includes photographs and videos of hawks, birds, and other wildlife in New York City. Check it out as a classroom resource to supplement the book Urban Roosts, to use with nest cams, or to talk about nature here in New York City.
In addition to the physical Watershed Relief Map and the print map produced by the Department of Environmental Protection, here’s a book you can use to teach about the route water takes from rain to your tap and all the steps in between.
The one caveat is that the story is a generic, every-town story, and New York City’s water system is a little different. A while ago, the Department of Environmental Protection here in New York City commissioned a NYC-specific version of the book. The last time I talked to them, they had run out of a budget for printing more, but you may want to reach out to DEP and see if they have new copies. Alternately, ask around – a colleague, friend, or local library may have a copy!
Yesterday, we mentioned the route New York City’s water takes from upstate to your tap. Today: a post about a remarkable map of that very path.
One of the highlights at the Queens Museum of Art is the Watershed Relief Map. The map dates back to 1939 when the Worlds Fair was held in Queens. As part of the Worlds Fair, the Cartographic Survey Force (a branch of the Works Progress Administration) was charged with constructing a 3-dimensional model of the waterways that get water from upstate New York to New York City. The model measured 32 feet by 20 feet and cost $100,000 to make (about $1.5 million in today’s dollars). In the end, it was too big to be displayed and went into storage.
After a brief exhibition in 1948, the map went back into storage and was completely forgotten until 1991, when it was discovered by Michael Cetera, an employee of the Department of Environmental Protection. After a massive restoration, the map was put on display at the Queens Museum of Art, which is located on the site of that very 1939 Worlds Fair.
The Watershed Relief Map now on display at the Queens Museum of Art
To celebrate the map’s restoration, NYC H2O and Queens Museum of Art are hosting a Watershed Relief Map Presentation on Saturday, December 10that noon. The kid-friendly event will feature Michael Cetera and NYC water educator Matt Malina. For more information, go to the event page.
The Watershed Relief Map is both a great source of information about NYC’s water and a fascinating object with an interesting history. This sounds like a great opportunity to learn more about both the watershed and the map!
Icky Fest is an annual tradition here at Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Every year since our re-opening in 2008, we hosted a weekend devoted to all things gross! During the weekend festival, kids become grossologists—scientific experts on all things slimy, yucky, and downright disgusting. They can create their very own snotty slime, touch creepy creatures, smell pungent cheese, study the New York City sewers, and more!
What’s the sustainability angle? This year, we are welcoming the “Sewer in a Suitcase” team from the Center for Urban Pedagogy. Their suitcase contains a model of a New York City block. Add water and pollution and you can see the major problem with NYC’s water system… (more about that later this week or see our earlier post on the High Line)
Come to Brooklyn Children’s Museum on Saturday, November 19th to check it out. CUP will be doing demonstrations at 12pm, 1pm, and 2pm in the Commons Theater. ICKY!