Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Today the students learned about ‘alien’ plants in Portland and how these plants can lead to monocultures in our woods and erosion problems. The four invasive plants we focused on were Himalayan Blackberry, English Ivy, Herb Robert/‘Stinky Bob’, and Garlic Mustard. The students had some great questions about how to get rid of these plants and were excited to hear that there are ‘ivy pull parties’ at Tryon Creek (the next Stewardship Saturday Ivy Pull is November 12th from 9am-12pm).
The students also played the erosion game ‘Just Passing Through’ where each team got to be raindrops, plants, or stones on the slope near the school. The raindrops had to work hard to race down stream with out getting tagged by a plant. They even had a chance to play the pollution game (the raindrops tried to pick up chips that represented chemical or natural stream pollutants and ‘deliver’ them to the river with out being tagged by a plant) before we were hit with real raindrops!
This last Saturday we had a wonderful tour and hike at Hopkins Demonstration Forest. The students were able to help measure trees, count pine needles on different types of conifers, and hand drill a hole into a tall fir to tell the age and how fast it was growing.
If you are interested in learning more about sustainable forestry, they offer Community Forestry Days on the 2nd Saturday of each month where you can be part of the action in the forest.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Today the students learned about the different ways we use a forest. They played the ‘Forest Appreciation Team Relay’ where they learned about the forest consumers (people in recreation, people and jobs, people and products, and animals and the Earth) and the benefits that each group takes from the forest (hiking, ranger, lumber, clean water, etc). It was great to get outside, work as a team, and race to find their consumer’s benefits! The students also sorted items collected from my home that were man-made or came from a plant/tree. You can try this game at home, searching each room to find objects from the plants or the forest.
The students finished their mason bee nest and these can be installed at your home by trying some rope or string between the two side nails and mounting it on a fence within 100 yards of the plants that you would like pollinated in the spring. It is best to face the nest east to catch the morning sun and place it at least 1 yard from the ground. These native bees are small, nonsocial, and nonaggressive; you may only notice that they are around if you find holes blocked with mud by the end of spring. You child is welcome to decorate their nest but it is not recommend to stain the wood as those chemicals may discourage the bees from using it.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
They had also a chance to drill holes into a wood block for their mason bee nest. These bees are small, non-aggressive insects that are very important pollinator of native plants. The students will finish their nest at the next class (Oct 24th) and will be able to bring it home to hang in your yard. If you would like more information about how to make a mason bee nest, I have uploaded the directions we used to Google Docs:
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
This week the students learned about the basic tool of field scientists - observation. They became aware that sometimes we miss important details when only using our eyes, missing the smell of the Japanese Glorybower leaf or the texture of the fringecup leaves. As you notice leaves together this week, ask your child to describe the leaf’s texture, shape, edges, and thickness to you. If you don’t have time outside, try to explore your house using your senses with your kids - a field scientist can make observations anywhere! I have uploaded three observation forms to Google Docs that you can use with your young scientists:
- Leaf Observation.pdf - table to record sight, touch, hearing, and smell observations of leaves
- Leaf Observation Venn Diagram.pdf - compare and contract observations of two leaves
- Observation game.pdf - similar to the ‘phone call’ game played in class; use descriptive language to get your partner to match your pattern
The students also heard the story of Dr. Geerat Vermeij, a man who was blind by the age of four and is now a world-renowned professor of marine ecology and paleobiology through his study of shells using mostly his sense of touch. If you would like to learn more about Dr. Vermeji you can find his biography ‘Privileged Hands: A Scientific Life’ at the local library or go to this kid-friendly site:
Next week we be walking to Stephen’s Creek Natural Area for our first outdoor field study. We will go rain or shine so please have your child dress appropriately. They will be learning to identify native plants, which ones produce nuts/fruit that are safe to eat, and which ones not to touch!
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Introducing the EcoThink Science Enrichment Program
Are you interested in learning how a field scientist works? Do you know which plants in our neighborhood are native, which are invasive, and which are safe to eat or touch? What is ‘Growing and Green in Oregon”? To find out, sign up for Rieke’s fall after-school science enrichment program. We will meet on Monday afternoons - Sept 26, Oct 3, Oct 10, Oct 24, Oct 31, and Nov 7 (no class Oct 17). Two optional field trips have been planned to learn about ethnobotany (Tryon Creek State Park) and sustainable forestry (Hopkins Tree Farm).
This is a six week, hands-on unit where each week builds on knowledge and experiences from the previous week as we explore science topics in our theme ‘Growing and Green in Oregon’. The program does involve several hands-on projects that require adult supervision. We encourage parents or grandparent participation so if you are available for one or more of the sessions and would like to contribute your time, please let us know. There will be a 20 student limit so sign up today! For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, May 23, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Monday, May 2, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Waste-Free Lunch Trash Audit
On April 20th we conducted another lunch waste audit to compare the results between a 'normal' lunch day and a 'waste-free' day. The school reduced their total waste by 19% and food waste by 33%! Here are the findings:
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Mar 11, 2011
Apr 20, 2011
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37 unused spork containers
3-4 gallons of milk poured into the waste bin (next time will we weigh the wasted milk)
several untouched bananas/oranges but greatly reduced from the apples in the last audit
Monday, April 11, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Want to Learn More?
Ecothink Lesson 4 – Recycling and Reuse
This week we focused on Recycling and Reuse. The students created a square for the International Plastic Quilt Project and played the Garbage R’s game (recycle, reduce, reuse, reject, or rethink). Please take some time to review what your child learned during the club meeting and check out these websites with them.
Try going to ‘Recycle City’, a website from the EPA
This site has several recycling games and activities for rainy weekends or summer projects:
Cut down on your junk mail at
Have your child find the catalogs that you don’t want and located the customer numbers on the labels to help you opt-out of mailings.
Take the ‘Trash and Climate Change’ challenge
Cut down on baggies use and make a sandwich wrap out of recycled items:
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Earth week is coming soon!
Rieke EcoThink Club and Tryon Creek State Park will be hosting a plastic recycling drive April 18-22. We will be accepting clean grocery bags, bread/vegetable bags, zip lock and freezer bags, bubble wrap, dry cleaning bags, clam shell/to-go containers, and plastics lids - plastics that are not accepted in the curb-side recycling bins.
Tryon Creek State Park will also be accepting more rigid plastics, media plastics, and cell phones on April 22. For more information, go to:
Friday, March 11, 2011
This month we focused on Waste Out of Place and we conducted a lunchroom trash audit. Our results will be posted soon.
If you have a chance, challenge your family to the ‘home trash audit’ to calculate how much waste do you produce in a day. Do you produce more or less than the national average of 4.6 lbs of garbage a day?
Please take some time to review what your child learned during the trash audit and check out some or all of these websites.
Watch ‘Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout’ together from Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Download the EPA’s ‘Trash and Climate Change: Planet Protectors Discover the Hidden Reasons to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle’ Activity Book
Go on a virtual field trip to a landfill:
Thursday, March 10, 2011
March Late Start Morning Field Trip
We had a great time exploring Tryon Creek State Park with Ranger Karen and Ranger Christal. The kids learned about the importance of fallen trees, searched for 'nursery' logs, and delighted in finding the animals that lived under them. We even were able to see a Great Horned Owl nest and deer tracks.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
STUDENT ARTISTS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS NEEDED!!!!
To make our Rieke “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” music video for Earth Day (set to Jack Johnson’s song ‘3Rs’), we need photos or drawings of:- taking the bus
- walking to school
- using cloth bags for groceries
- using reusable lunch containers
- bringing your own water containers
- handing down clothes that don't fit
- growing your own food
- planting native plants
- turning off lights
- turning off your car (idle free zones)
- different types of recycling
- your family doing a green activity
Photos of numbers (on signs, cars, buildings, etc):
3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36
Please drop off your art in Ms. Reddekopp’s office mail box or email the photos to email@example.com
Sustainability - What is a Wants vs Needs
This month we are focusing on wants vs. needs. Your child learned what we “need” to survive and sustain a happy, healthy life and how that differs from what we want to have in the way of possessions.
Please take some time to review what your child learned and check out some or all of these websites.
Check out the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child and download the game to help facilitate a discussion in your family about wants and needs
PBS site has lots of games and resources to explore the idea of wants vs. needs and how to save money.
Explore consumerism with your older kids. How do advertisers target your kids? This website has some interesting lesson plans and ideas to bring up at the dinner table
Before you consume (or go shopping), check out these sites
Responsible Shopper: www.responsibleshopper.org
PBS: Affluenza: www.pbs.org/kcts/affluenza
Media Awareness Network: www.media-awareness.ca
Black Rhinoceros: www.blackrhinoceros.org
New Road Map Foundation: www.ecofuture.org/pk/pkar9506.html
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Styrofoam Drive and Recology Tour
Here are our pictures from the Rieke, Hayhurst, and Bridlemile Styrofoam Drive on Feb 5 and 6 and Rieke's tour of the Recology Processing Plant.
We collected 60 cubic yards of styrofoam that will be recycled instead of headed to the landfill. We collected enough styrofoam to fill one of our modular classrooms to the ceiling - that's 660 pounds of styrofoam!
Friday, January 14, 2011
Please take some time to review what your child learned and check out some or all of these websites.
The fish game that the 3rd to 5th graders played is adapted from the Nuts Game by Juliean Edney and The Fish Game from Cloud Institute. Play it online at: www.cloudinstitute.org
Learn about growing and purchasing sustainable food
Calculate your ecological footprint here. How many earths would it take if everyone on earth had the same footprint?
More information about the sustainability framework - The Natural Step
The story of stuff is a 20-minutes fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our consumption patterns. It exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues.
The secret life of paper - five minute video about paper waste.
Watch the made for TV movie of the story of the lorax
Or play Lorax games
Download the EPA’s ‘Follow That Trail’ activity book