Learning Outdoors

Resources from Environmental Education - 10/29/20

The SDW Environmental Education team will be sending weekly newsletters throughout the school year. Our hope is that some of the activities will support your classroom learning, inspire you to take your students outside, or spark a creative idea for you. If there are specific topics that you would like us to explore, please feel free to reach out with your ideas or suggestions! We can support you best when we know what you need!
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Poem of the Day

We will be featuring seasonal poems from the book "Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year" illustrated by Fran Preston-Gannon and selected by Fiona Waters. This week, enjoy the poem "The Pumpkin" by Anonymous and read by EE teacher Rita Keber.
The Pumpkin

Aquaculture Challenge - HS Students

The Aquaculture Challenge 2020-2021 for high school students is a competition held by Lake Superior State University and is now open for registration. Local school teams are tasked with creating their own small-scale aquaponics system. In addition to creating the system, each team is provided an Arduino microcontroller and sensors to monitor the parameters of the system, such as air and water temperature, luminosity, and soil moisture. The last component of the system is a business canvas that will outline potential customers, methods of distribution, and other points to consider when creating a business. Each of these three sections of the challenge are important when starting and operating a full-scale aquaculture business, and many of these businesses fail because they did not consider one or more of these components.

The Challenge gives the students a few months to conceptualize and implement their system design, configure their Arduinos and sensors to monitor their system, and create their business model canvas. The students were asked to submit videos describing their systems, and they where they were judged in each of these three categories separately, as well as overall integration of them. The videos will be posted here, so stay tuned to witness the ingenious systems created by these brilliant students!


Garden Corner

Most of our garden beds are cleaned up for the fall (except for a few little lettuce plants), but that doesn't mean that we can't still have fresh produce. Many of the green tomatoes that we harvested weeks ago are still ripening on the counter! EE teacher Lynn Parkhurst tried an experiment at home to see how many days it would take for her green tomatoes to ripen. Check out what she observed here!
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Climate Change and the Trees Around Us

Another great learning opportunity from Green Healthy Schools WI. Here is what they say about this lesson:

"Part of Understanding Community Systems series. In this session, we will explore the connection between trees and climate change. You will learn how to measure the height and diameter of trees using simple classroom tools, and then use those measurements to determine how much carbon is sequestered by each tree. Then compare this data to the amount of carbon produced by average schools and local businesses. Finally, we will look at scientific models to see how local trees might be affected by climate change in the future."

Climate Change and the Trees Around Us

Moving in Nature

Need a brain break? Join EE teacher Emma Koeppel for some mindful movement. This week we'll a practice called Breath of Joy!
Mindful Movement - Breath of Joy

WAEE Conference

The SDW EE program will be presenting at the WAEE conference this year along with countless other fabulous speakers including Robin Wall Kimmerer, the author of Braiding Sweetgrass. You can register for a full weekend or just a couple of sessions by visiting their website.
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Archery Demo

At the WAEE conference, SDW EE will be presenting about the Breakout EDU team challenges that were created for our middle school EE curriculum. One of the videos featured in the presentation will be this demo of a new archery activity!
Archery Demo

Phenology Pholder

Woolly Bear Caterpillars

written by EE teacher Laureanna Raymond-Duvernell

You know it’s fall in Wisconsin when you see fuzzy brown and black caterpillars crossing your lawn, driveway and even the roads. And while woolly bear caterpillars can’t predict the severity of our winters (sorry, it’s a myth…) they can teach us a little about how insects survive our cold climate.

Woolly bear caterpillars are the larva stage of the isabella tiger moth. (Look it up. They’re beautiful.) We love to pick them up because their hairs are harmless and it’s cute to see them roll up into a “C” shape and then gradually emerge to crawl all over our hands.

These larva are on their way to find their overwintering home. They typically choose spots under leaves or logs to settle in. Then, they freeze. Their heart stops beating and their organs freeze. But they don’t die because their cells contain a cryoprotectant - think of it as animal antifreeze.

Come spring, they’ll form a cocoon and then emerge about a month later as the isabella tiger moth. Pretty remarkable life cycle for a creature we don’t think twice about!

If you find one and are looking for a children’s book to pair with your caterpillar, check out The Secret Life of the Woolly Bear Caterpillar by Laurence Pringle.

Planetarium Corner

Each week, Lisa Swaney (the Planetarium Director) will share some fun opportunities here!


Please Mark Your Calendars: On December 21st, 2020, The City of Waukesha and the Horwitz-DeRemer Planetarium are partnering together as part of a bigger movement called Earth Hour. Earth Hour is an open-source project that motivates others to help boost their mission by encouraging people to shut off non-essential lights. Earth Hour is held every year on the last Saturday of March, where it draws millions of people in over 180 countries to participate. We are creating our own Earth Hour event named City of Waukesha Starry Night: Lights Out- Parks Dark.

You may ask why December and not in March? This year on December 21st, 2020, also the Winter Solstice, is the day the Jupiter- Saturn conjunction in the sky is at peak power. The last time we saw this conjunction was the year 2000, but this Jupiter- Saturn conjunction will be the closest since the year 1623! They will be less than 0.1 degrees apart or about ⅕ of a full moon diameter. Keep watching the Southern sky over the next few months as Jupiter and Saturn are inching closer and closer together. You can’t miss those bright objects.

Another date to be aware of is December 1st. By this date, the Horwitz-DeRemer staff will be providing additional lessons and activities to the city as part of educating others about light pollution and the importance of shutting off non-essential lights. We are looking forward to being a part of this great movement.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle - Share Your Accomplishments!

Is your school making an impact in reducing waste? Green & Healthy Schools WI wants to know about it. Here is what they have to say:

"Green & Healthy Schools Wisconsin is creating a more streamlined, equitable way to recognize your school's accomplishments reducing environmental impacts and costs, improving health and wellness, and increasing environmental literacy.

We are asking schools to complete this SURVEY pilot to share your activities from the 2019-20 school year. The results will help populate an online map and help us continue to share your school's accomplishments.

We would be grateful if you could complete your survey by November 15. Your browser will automatically save survey responses as you move through it so it can be completed in multiple sessions if needed. If you are interested in being considered for nomination for U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, please be sure to complete your survey AND contact Victoria Rydberg."

You can also find more info about food waste and composting in schools by following this link!

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Support for Outdoor Learning

We know that this year is asking for a lot of flexibility, patience, and perseverance! As you are being asked to take learning outdoors, the SDW EE team wants to support you!

To see detailed outdoor learning ideas, check out this slideshow.

To see a flyer that outlines our support offerings this year, check out this link.

Science Joke of the Week

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