Water is such a crucial element to our way of life and everything we do. No matter where we are on earth, water has a major impact and role. It was my desire to have our students think about their local water and connect that with water on a global level.
I am so excited to announce that we had entered a contest, competing with entries across the world, to be a part of the World Water Monitoring Challenge–AND WE WON! With this win, we will be provided with 5 full water monitoring test kits (among other opportunities) for students to become field scientists (as soon as the ice breaks up).
Read the Press Release and information about the Challenge by clicking here: Water Challenge Win
At the beginning of the year we signed up to join a fun project with Lisa Davis from New York, called Bulldog Adventure, where their mascot, the “Bulldog” left Westmoreland, New York to travel the world, stopping at several places to visit and teach about previous travels.
When he arrived to us this past week, March 22 to be exact, we got the opportunity to learn about the places he has visited (through 69 slides). Every new place Bulldog travels to, he gets a few slides to share with the next group. Since he is arriving to us towards the end, we got to learn so much about our country and even about his experience in India and Pakistan. We are excited to share a few with all of you!
Back in the states, he travelled lots of places we got to learn about. We had some favorite learning moments, we just had to share. Many of us had just learned about Truss Bridges, in STEAM club, so when we saw this slide, we got excited! This is a COOL bridge, read closely.
Who doesn’t love candy and especially M&M’s? We loved getting to learn about where they come from in Cleveland, Tennessee and that it actually smells like the candy there in the town!
Because here in Alaska we have such strong ties to Native cultures, we were really into learning about Cherokee Nation and Red Clay State Historic Park. Some of us didn’t even know these kinds of state parks existed.
This next place was exciting for us to see because so many of have never seen a cactus in real life. Learning about Arizona was intriguing.
The stop right before us was Washington, which several of us had been too. They even mentioned us in their post when they talked about having salmon in both places.
Finally, we got a chance to share Bulldog’s Experience in Alaska, and about Alaska in general. This first slide shares a bit about our school and town. Bulldog got to eat free lunch, since we are a free lunch school!
This next slide, we are sharing Bulldog’s learning about the cool things we do at school. He even got to do some math and earn 3 Kick-it Math belts!
Here we love teaching about Alaska. These are what we often share about Alaska that are pretty unique. We love this time of year because every day it stays lighter longer until we reach summer solstice.
While Bulldog is here, we will spend a couple days letting him go home with students to see their life firsthand. More pictures may come! Having the opportunity to learn about the world in such a fun way has been really cool. We may even decide to send a mascot next year! Anyone know where we can find a Thundercat?
Today, March 22, 2018 was a great opportunity, in honor of World Water Day, to connect with a variety of individuals who helped us understand the importance of water in our life, the necessity of water conservation, what is being done to conserve water, and why it all matters! This was a great day of learning all things water!
Our ocean instructor from North Carolina Aquariums, Sarah, taught us about ocean acidification. The ocean is not very acidic, it’s called “basic”; the chemicals in the water that make it more “basic” are what the animals need to stay healthy. When the ocean becomes more acidic, it means the chemicals are changing in the water, removing the minerals the smallest ocean critters sitting at the bottom of the food chain, need to survive.
Today we got to learn about little ocean critters, how the ocean is becoming acidic, and why it matters to the little critters (which end up mattering to the big critters). When pollution enters the air, in the form of carbon dioxide, it comes back down (with gravity) to the earth. Much of the earth is covered in water, so that carbon dioxide goes into the water. The ocean is pretty good at filtering the carbon, but if there’s too much, it actually mixes with the seawater to create carbonic acid. So, you may ask, if the ocean filters the carbon, why does carbonic acid matter? Good question!
Carbonic acid prevents shells from growing, in creatures that use it for protection. It can weaken the strength of the shells, which makes them more edible for other sea creatures. If more sea creatures are able to eat them, there won’t be enough for the ones that already eat them, like sea turtles. Also, carbonic acid has lots of other badness it causes in marine life. Here is a link to find out more: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/oceans/critical-issues-ocean-acidification/
Changing oceans is a big topic the world is talking about these days and it is our job as growing global citizens that we know as much as we can. NPR (National Public Radio) did a special series called Oceans at Risk. Listen to this session, “Acid in the Ocean: A Growing Threat to Sea Life” https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111807469
In learning about the ocean critters that have hard shells, we saw why snail shells spiral! As snails grow, they grow more on the shell and it goes in a spiral pattern. The bigger the shell, with more spirals to it, the older the snail lived. Those snails need strong shells to protect from predators and live long enough to have many spirals!
Our learning today involved several of our classes having multiple virtual learning opportunities. This was a favorite: The Water Brothers are a duo of Canadian Water Conservationists who host their own TV Eco-Adventure show, traveling the world to look at water. We got to visit with them over Zoom, along with other classes around the world through an organization that brings virtual learning to classrooms called Explore By the Seat of Your Pants. We learned their story and how they got involved and why it matters. Their aim to teach the world, in a visual and engaging way, about challenges in the environment by looking at water.
The Water Brothers really opened our eyes to the question of why should we care about water. Water is everything we do, everything we are, everything we eat, and everything we wear. We were shocked to find out how much water it takes to make just a single cheeseburger, or a pair of jeans!
Today’s World Water Way learning and connections left us with a few pieces of unforgettable information: 800 million people in the world do not have access to clean water, in the last 40 years, 50% of our wildlife populations have gone extinct (largely because of pollution, plastic, and deforestation), the entire marine ecosystem changes at night, and all the water that is here right now has been here for 8.2 billion years…
A concept that was new to us and quite shocking is wastewater recycling, which is taking wastewater from toilets, showers, etc. and using it again! We got to learn about wastewater treatment centers and how they work.
The most unforgettable learning experience was discovering how NASA figured out a process to recycle wastewater in just 2 1/2 hours, which astronauts do in space. That was important to figure out because the cost to bring water to space is about $60,000 a glass (because it is so heavy)! We were shocked and some of us grossed out to see people drinking water they had recently “released”. We didn’t know that all water on earth is recycled.
We left today totally inspired to think about our water choices, know more about water on earth, spread awareness, cut down on our plastic usage, create posters on our learning, and learn more about the impact, necessity, and need to be water conservationists. We are dedicated to be a part of the solution. Because we learned the connection between energy and water, we even agreed to take on a new challenge for tomorrow, Earth Hour Event Challenge. Click below for more information!
This March (2018), we had the privilege to connect with children’s book author and inspiration, Lisa Thompson, http://www.lisathompsonauthor.com/. We not only learned her story, process, and inspirations behind her books, but also got a unique opportunity to learn WITH her as our Global Professional Teacher.
Many of us shared honestly that writing is not something we feel good at or feel excited to do. At the same time, many of us shared that if we felt like we were good at it, we would enjoy doing it and want to do it more. Ms. Thompson was very understanding and wanted to help us reach a new perspective.
Having the chance to share and talk WITH someone who is an expert in the field made us feel like our ideas mattered and that we have every chance to all be storytellers and writers, by looking around us for inspiration. Our librarian and global educator feels it’s important our potential is nurtured; global education allows us to do that by video conferencing with experts in every field. We become carriers of valuable information which makes up feel important. Lisa Thompson cared enough to listen to us and ask our input.
We got an opportunity to share funny things in life we have experienced, and cataloged our ideas in a visual graphic to hopefully inspire us in the future.
We even became inspired to share our ideas for writing, with each other, circulating the room to talk with our peers about what we wrote. We created unique characters, and since many of us are fans of non-fiction, we discovered how it can be intertwined with fiction writing. We were even inspired to believe that even if we don’t like writing fiction, we are still creative writers.
One student even shared an experience where he was busy playing video games and his dog got mad at him and peed on him. In this session, we laughed, thought, squirmed, wrote, and potentially became writers in the making! This is what Global Education is all about!
Watch our video to catch all the highlights and see the power of this authentic learning journey with Lisa Thompson, to whom we are super grateful!
Last year when students were learning about Jacques Cousteau and the legacy he passed onto his family (and the great work they are doing also) we came across the reality that the ocean needs our help. From then on, we have learned as much as we can about oceans, global supply chains (with everything from shrimp by catch issues to overfishing of sharks), global sea turtle endangerment, humpback whale necropsy here in Alaska, and so much in between. This week, we got to get a glimpse into conservation through one women’s journey she shares.
We were incredibly honored to get an on screen camera spot for National Geographic Explorer Classroom, with Marine Social Ecologist and Photojournalist, Shannon Switzer Swanson from San Diego, California. She is a fascinating woman in science addressing major conservation issues and resource management.
She uses different science and social science fields to understand how to protect our creatures, primarily in the water and coast lines. Also, we learned that she is a surfer. She shared with us a valuable lesson: do what you love and what is important to you. She loved water, and wanted to be able to continue spending time in the water, safely (she saw a friends get sick with bacterial infection from something happening in the ocean), so she went into a science where she can protect water and learn what exactly is going on with the water in our world.
In this session, she shared and helped us understand about global supply chains and where everything comes from, which is a large part of us understanding who we are as global citizens.
One subject that was talked about, and quite familiar for Ms. Switzer Swanson is the situation for the Blue Tang fish, popularly known as Dory from Finding Nemo. 90% of the Blue Tang fish in the world come from the Coral Triangle. Her work has largely been on sustainability in coastal communities in Southeast Asia, where the Blue Tang are located.
We were fascinated to hear her journey of discovering how many of the world’s people rely on the market of fishing (see below), in order to survive (income and primary source of nutrition). We also were shocked and saddened to discover some of the ways that fisherman meet these demands, especially with the popularity of the Blue Tang fish. She is doing major work to ensure sustainability of these fish and we are so grateful.
Learning from these amazing scientists, we too are becoming experts. We care about our oceans and experiences like this help us have the information we need to help be a part of the solution.
Lucky you, you can see our entire Virtual Field Trip experience here:
Also, if you would like to know more about the Blue Tang, check out this Smithsonian’s article. Learn more, to know more, to protect more!