Friday, October 18, 2013

Jr Ranger Program has begun!

EcoThink is partnering with the Tryon Creek Rangers to offer a unique program where our students can earn a Jr. Ranger Badge by attending and participating in six EcoThink Club sessions.  The kids will discover nature secrets, identify native and invasive plants, learn how to be safe when you are exploring, and participate in events to clean and protect our school campus and local parks.

This week the students conducted research and created clues for several of our local wildlife.  Here are some of their 'Nature's Secrets':

1. I eat disgusting stuff
2. I am slimy
3. I am slow
4. I am small and yellow
5. I hate salt
    I am a   _ _ _ _ _ _     _ _ _ _ .

1. I eat earthworms and amphibians
2. I am black with yellow stripes
3. I am long and skinny and look like a rope
4. I can be found in most parks, forests, and in the grass
5. I am scared of people
6. I don't have legs
    I am a  _ _ _ _ _ _    _ _ _ _ _ .

1. I can grow to around 5 inches long
2. I eat arthropods
3. I am black and red and look slimy
4. I live where it is moist in the forest
5. I don't have lungs
    I am a   _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

1. I eat insects and sometimes fruit
2. I live in the forest where there are dead trees
3. I raise my babies in the dead trees
4. I have a black throat and red patch on my head
5. I am a type of woodpecker
    I am a   _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .

1. I live up to 20 years
2. I eat rats
3. I am an endangered species
4. I have a round face
5. I have yellow eyes
6. I can fly
    I am a  _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ .

1. I live in a lot of places
2. I have a high sense of touch
3. I eat crayfish, rodents, frogs, and bird eggs
4. Large hawks can eat me
5. I have night vision
    I am a  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .

 If you missed the meeting but would like to earn the Jr. Ranger Badge, please complete this month's activity (Jr Ranger activity - Nature Secrets.pdf) with your family and bring it to the next session in December.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Wonder Tree is now online!

The Rieke Elementary School student have a lot of questions as they explore, interact, and learn about the world around them. When they have a wonder, they can submit it to the Wonder Tree at school and earn a bud with their name on it. These questions are then added to the Wonder Wall for students to pick and conduct research to try to find an answer to the question. When they return their research sheet, they earn a leaf for the tree.  Click here to find a question that interests you, search for the answer with your parent, and submit your research either at school or on the website.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Welcome to the 2013-14 school year!

We had our first club meeting on September and welcomed the new school year by brainstorming some eco-goals together:
  Plant more trees
  No more ocean pollution
  No littering
  Eat better food
  Plant more flowers
  Make sure to recycle
Our activity for the session was to learn about what plants need to grow and then to make a 'Plant Person' for them to care for.  We used nylons, grass seed, and soil to make our plant head.  Each student chose an eco-goal that was important to them and wrote it on the watering base for their plant person.  All they needed was water, sun, and time!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Rieke Outdoor Classroom 

- Before and After

Special thanks to our sponsors:

SW Neighborhood Inc
West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District
Wells Fargo
Portland Parks and Recreation
PGE and Clackamas Community College
Food Front
Brandon Bonas, A.I.A 
Henderson Family
Missio Church
Holt Woodworking
Holst Architecture
Hillsdale Starbucks
Columbia Land Trust
Tigard Sand and Gravel
Woolly Pockets
and the Rieke Community!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A weed is a plant out of place 

What is a weed? The students came up with several very interesting definitions: 
   something that is not pretty 
   a plant that you didn't put there 
   a plant that just goes crazy if you leave it there 
   something that needs a new home 

We  discussed how some plant that we consider weeds may be useful in other ways - dandelion salads, stinging nettle tea, clover for soil enrichments. But in most cases, weeds are outcompeting the garden plants for water, nutrients, sunlight, and space.   

The club members were given a tour of the parking lot garden at the school and were quick to pick out what should be there and what shouldn't. They then helped 'save' the spring buds by removing bindweed, dandelions, and thistle from the garden. Their favorite was the 'wild grass' since it was easy to pull up and was a perfect example of 'a weed is a plant out of place' - grass in the lawn = ok, grass in the flower garden = not ok.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Outdoor Classroom is almost ready!

Make sure to sign up to help us reach the final phase of the Outdoor Classroom.  We will have work parties on April 20 and 27 to install the seating logs and ADA gravel path.

Outdoor Classroom work parties sign up

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

International Plastic Quilt

The EcoAction team created squares today with plastics both from the school and home.  Look for the finished quilt on display during Earth Week!

2013 Rieke Tree Planting

On March 22, the 1st-5th grade students helped plant 15 trees on the campus.  These trees were donated as part of the Portland Tree Migation Program through Portland Parks and Recreation. Each class and their buddies met with Wilson Ecology students for an interactive lesson about tree before heading outdoors.  We luckily missed the sleet and snow that day and had wonderful blue skies and lots of smiles.

Thank you Portland Parks and Recreation, Wilson High School, and the Rieke students, staff, and volunteers for this fun experience!  If you have any pictures from the event that you would like to share, please email them to

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Rieke Spring Garden

Before spring break the classes headed out to plant in the new hanging gardens.  Here is what they planted:

Kindergarten - 'Give Peas a Chance' with a side of strawberries

1st and 5th grades - 'The Nose Knows' - a olfactory garden of cilantro, spearmint, chocolate mint, lemon verbena, purple sage, onion, dill, curled parsley, tarragon, Italian parsley.

3rd grade - 'Growing Things' - spring science standard with carrots, peas, strawberries

2nd and 4th grades - 'Roots, leaves, and flowers - where does food come from?' with radish, lettuce, broccoli, garlic, spinach, and nasturtiums.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

'I am going on an adventure and I am bringing ....'  

At the EcoThink meeting this month we discussed wants vs needs as we 'planned' for trips to the mountains, deserts, oceans, and even the moon.  The students worked in teams with our high school TAs as they researched their assigned location and brainstormed what they think was needed and how will they transport these items.  What would it be like to explore the Great Barrier Reef, the Sahara, the moon?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Scientific Method Fun

This month we reviewed the steps of the scientific method and explored the question 'what is soil?'. The student were able to conduct background research on the school iPads with a high school TA.  From their research they each came up with three questions.  Not one student had the same question - it was great to see each of them grasping the topic in their own way:

   - how do plant deposits turn into soil?
   - how are the 70,000 types of soil different?
   - which types of soils are better for flowers?
   - how do earthworms turn dead plants into soil?
   - how many different types of soil are there in Oregon?
   - in hot places does soil have less water in it?
   - how many different colors of soil are there?
   - what is the difference between growing a plant in soil or mud?
   - how do things grow in soil?
   - how can some plant grow only in soil?
   - why is some soil red?
   - how much water and soil do you need to make mud?
   - how many types of soil is there around Rieke?

We then moved into our mini science project based on the observation "people like money".  I took them through the steps of the scientific method for this experiment;  below are their answers and the results of our project.  They did a great job collecting the data!  If you have a chance, ask them to explain the project to you in their own words.  As 'homework', see if your family could come up with conclusions to our little science project and think about how we could have done the experiment differently or what other questions you could ask based on the results.
Question - would people stop to pick up a quarter on the ground near the school.
- between 49%-60% of people will stop to pick up a quarter as they walk into school
- more students than parents will stop to pick up the quarter
- more boys than girls will stop to pick up the quarter
- glue a quarter to the cement near the front door to Rieke
- stand by the bike racks and record data for 20 minutes before school
- work in teams and count:
  1. how many people enter the school
  2. how many people try to pick up the quarter
  3. of the people who stop, how many are students or parents
  4. of the people who stop, how many are boys or girls
from 10:20-10:40 on Wednesday January 16
318 people entered the school
27 people tried to pick up the quarter
   2 parents         25 students
   13 boys           8 girls
our first hypothesis was incorrect - only 8% of people tried to pick up the quarter
our second and third hypothesis were correct

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What do you wonder?

When is the last time you stopped to wonder - why is our flag red, white, and blue - what are the white lines on our fingernails - why are there 24 hours in a day - what is Jello made of?  Join us for the January EcoThink Late Start Lounge on Wednesday the 16th to practice your questioning skills.  We will be brainstorming ideas and letting our mind wonder as we learn how to ask scientific question, just in time for the Rieke Science Fair on February 28th.  If you or your child would like to attend, please email by Friday January 11th.  Space is limited to 20 students.