Friday, June 27, 2008

Youth Exploring Science - YES!

Fostering a young person's interest is very important for their personal growth and development. I believe it is especially true for young people in interested in science. More often than not, urban kids don't like science and don't usually wax poetic about science lessons.

So, when I came across the story of a Miss Lakisa McPike - a teenager from inner-city St. Louis, who loved science as a kid and how it shaped her career choices brought a smile to my face. Her mother helped cultivate her interest in science since she was young by buying her science books and kits beyond that of her school curriculum. Later she participated in an after-school program called Youth Exploring Science or YES! The program provides lots of great hands-on learning activities that allow youth to explore science topics and careers in depth.

When it was time for deciding on whatmajor in college Lakisa chose biology...and graduated magna cum laude. She will be atttending graduate school this fall and majoring in medical sciences. Read more about Lakisa here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Recycling for Cash - Earning Money this Summer

Recycling aluminum cans is a great way for kids to make money in the summer time. So many people are enjoying cold beverages so this is perfect time to collect heaps of cans. Ask your neighbors and family members if you can have their cans. Visit local parks and collect discarded cans. You’ll score heaps of can following BBQ and other get-togethers.

Collecting aluminum cans is a good deed all around – for the environment and for you. You’re helping to clean up your neighborhood and parks. You can log a number community service hours for school and/or clubs. And you can earn a lot of money. Plus, it looks great on college applications. This is a perfect way for younger kids to make money this summer. In fact, I did it myself when I was nine years old. It felt great earning my own money!

The amount of money you earn depends on the weight of cans and the price varies. The more you bring in at a time the more you earn per pound. One web site lists offer prices up to .55 cents per pound for recycled aluminum cans.

Here’s what to do:
1. Let your family know you would like to collect cans this summer for money. Ask your parents for permission to store cans some place out of the way.
2. As you collect cans empty them of all liquids and rinse them out first if you can. This makes for a cleaner collection site and fewer ants and flies hovering around.
3. Crush the cans. This helps you get a higher volume of cans in your bag. Plus it gives you a more accurate idea of how heavy your bag of aluminum cans is.
4. When poking in the trash, be careful. Wear gloves or get a grabber.
5. Ask friends, neighbors, and family members to set aluminum cans to the side for you. Arrange for a time to pick them up.
6. Visit public areas during and after major events. You’re sure to collect lots of cans then.
7. Finally, recycling the whole can. The pull tabs have no special extra value; that’s an urban legend. So don’t bother pulling them off and collecting them separately. The recycler treats it all the same.

And depending on where you live, you may be able to collect other recyclables for money, such as glass and other metal containers.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Urban Environmental Science Program - Green Works of Kansas City

I was web-surfing (read procrastinating big time - not working on my dissertation like I was supposed to) and came across this gem -- Green Works for Kansas City.

Assuming I am comprehending what I am reading right, then this organization is all about exploring urban environmental science issues in Kansas City and promoting Green Collar job opportunities for inner-city youth. Ya'll know how much I love that!

A flagship program of Green Works KC is ECOS - Environmental Stewardship and Workforce Development. Students, excuse me for my school jargon, or rather participants explore environmental science topics like water filtration, public sewage and waste management, urban deforestation, recycling, and other environmental matters that impact their city.

Wow, I'm on the other side of the state, but if and when I get out that way, I will definitely look them up. I think it is a great model for agencies interested in Green Collar Job development.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Movie Recommendation: Hoot - an adventure in urban ecology & conservation

I watched the movie Hoot the other day. I loved it, as I suspected I would.
The movie involves 3 main characters – teens who are trying to save a protected species of Burrowing Owls from an impending construction projects.

What I really like about the movie:
1. It features teens being involved and caring and taking action – not being passive. They are civically engaged.
2. It showcases the beauty of nature right in front of us and encourages people to pay attention and enjoy it.
3. It introduces young people to the concept of conservation.

But it also include some of the typical (read corny) story line of the smart kid being bullied, the bully being some overweight and unintelligent heel, the cool but rebellious troublemaker, and the smart but very mean girl. Also, one of the main characters is a serious rule breaker, despite having the best intentions and passion to care – he’s an eco-vandal or eco-avenger. For the sake of the natural resources he disrupts the building site, vandalizes the builders equipment, etc. I so relate to this kid. Who doesn’t want to undermine evil corporations who exploit land, water, plant and animal resources? But I digress.

It’s a great DVD to own for kids to watch over and over again. Plus, the bonus features include educational and service projects related to conservation and environmental education presented by the National Wildlife Federation. NWF is the educational partner for the film. I've updated my blog roll to include links to this amazing organization. Be sure to browse their site - lots of great ideas for community service projects and learning activities!

So 2 big thumbs up for this movie and the service learning projects they encourage.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

PhD Position in Urban Ecology

Okay, this is way down the line for my target audience, but hey I believe in dangling carrots to inspire and motivate learners. Plus, it offers some detail about what real urban ecology research is all about.

The candidate will investigate the effect of fragmentation on spatial patterns of selected species and invertebrate communities in urban environments; radio-track hedgehogs; sample and identify flying and ground-dwelling invertebrates such as bees, carabid beetles or snails; analyze their functional assemblage with uni- and multivariate techniques and publish the results in international journals.

Detailed project information is available at:
(project module 2, task 4).

Details about the application are available from:

(Do not send applications by email!)

Dr. Martin K. Obrist
Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL
Biodiversity and Conservation Biology
CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Keep E-Waste Out of Landfills

Some things just don’t belong in a landfill, no matter what. Disposed electronics and batteries that operate them are classic examples – some people call it e-waste. These materials just don’t degrade – they are not BIOdegradable. I other words, they aren’t made of organic or once living materials. Electronics are made of plastics, glass, and wires made from heavy metails . Leaving them exposed to wind, sun and water won’t deteriorate them like wood, and batteries are the worse. They leak materials in the soil that literally poisons the earth. Electronic waste accounts for 70 percent of the overall toxic waste that you currently find in landfills. In addition to valuable metals like aluminum, electronics often contain hazardous materials like lead and mercury. The best thing to do is recycle the materials, but I know that’s not easy to do. Our “easy” lifestyles actually make it hard to do the right thing.

Don’t throw away
· Old TVs, radios
· Telephones, cellular phones, answering machines, fax machines
· Computers, computer screens, scanners
· Cameras, digital recorders, camcorders, tape recorders
· Compact fluorescent light bulbs
· Batteries – no matter what size from watch batteries to car batteries
· Paint
What to do instead
· Consider fixing it, upgrading it and keep using it
· Donate it
· Recycle it
· Drop it off at a proper facility, often a municipally managed program

Visit Earth911 and you can tell them where you live what you have to throw away and it will list nearby recycling facilities.
Call your city waste office and they can tell you proper ways to dispose of these items. Some cities have special drop-off centers and pick up days for “special trash”.
Visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to learn more about e-waste and how to properly dispose of it.

Happy World Environment Day!

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