Friday, 11 November 2016

Welcome to a new version of this blog

I have changed positions and for the last year I have been teaching environmental studies so this blog will now document the program, curriculum and projects of the
Lower School Environmental Studies program at the American School in London.

We are based in the Honeypot Lane Garden which is located at the playing fields for the American School in London in Canons Park area of London

I will be posting updates, information and resources that will be helpful for anyone involved in outdoor science or garden education.

Playing Fields at Canons Park

Honeypot Lane Garden Entrance 

American School in London Lower School Environmental Studies Program

Environmental Literacy Principles

Humans and the environment are interconnected and are part of a system. A system is an organized group of related components that form a whole.  All actions taken by humans will have consequences in the natural world.  It is important to understand the the organization and dynamics of natural systems and to act successfully in daily life on a broad understanding of how people and societies relate to each other and to natural systems, and how they might do so sustainably. Living things need water, air, and resources from the land, and they live in places that have the things they need. Humans use natural resources for everything they do. Things that people do to live comfortably can affect the world around them. But they can make choices that reduce their impacts on the land, water, air, and other living things.

Developed based on guidelines from North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Kung Hee Fat Choy ! On measuring carefully, counting things and keeping track of time

A tweet from Mufi Hanneman, the mayor of Honolulu, reminded me that it was time to getting going on this blog again.  

-       From one Horse to another, and to one and all: Kung Hee Fat Choy!
-       MufiHanneman
So here we are – in the year 2014 or by some Chinese systems the year 4712.
In either case –  sending out wishes for everyone for a prosperous and bountiful new year.
The lovely image of the horse leaping into the number 2014 got me thinking about the way that we humans count the hours, days and years and how important it is to all cultures to notice the passing of the seasons and to gather information to be able to see the recurring patterns as we pass through each year.   This focus on time passing has led to all kinds of careful observations and types of measurements. 

For the last couple of years the courtyard in the front of the lower school has become the focus of much careful measuring and observation by the Grade 3 students.
 There are daily measurements of weather each morning as a small group of meteorologists record the temperature, humidity, rainfall and cloud conditions.  
At least once each season each student spends some time sitting in the same spot and observing the plants, soil and weather conditions.  And if we are lucky some of the local wildlife.

A fun new addition to the morning weather reports started about a month ago – two of the Grade 3 meteorologists have been providing the morning weather report for Ms. Elaine’s Gr 4 class news report.

This data set builds over the course of the year and provides an important source of information when the students start to learn how meteorologists answer questions about weather and climate by looking at long term data.

In addition to the recording the weather each morning, once a week on Fridays we take a photo of the sky conditions and a picture of the students with the date to mark each date that we have cloud conditions.   This also serves to record the changes in the trees as they lose many of their leaves moving from fall into winter and the decrease in light levels.   This slideshow will give you a feeling for how things have changed over the last six months as we have traveled from fall into winter.  We are just now starting to see the light levels returning and I no longer have to turn off the automatic flash feature each Friday when I take these photos.  Thankfully, within another three weeks it will be back to bright morning light again at 8:15 am in the morning.  We are looking forward to spring and the leaves returning to the trees.
Click here to view slideshow
Finally, a small thought for you here at the beginning of the year of the horse – This is a quote from an opinion piece in the NYTimes written by Richard A. Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical College.  I find his advice for making use of the human ability to change our perception of time passing very heartening – you can slow down time!  “It’s simple: if you want time to slow down, become a student again. Learn something that requires sustained effort; do something novel. Put down the thriller when you’re sitting on the beach and break out a book on evolutionary theory or Spanish for beginners or a how-to book on something you’ve always wanted to do. Take a new route to work; vacation at an unknown spot. And take your sweet time about it.”