June 22, 2010

 Tonight we’ll be talking about kids and the environment with some interesting information about what kids have done to help the environment, some new ideas about what kids can do, and some fun games and activities for kids.We have two special guests in the studio with us tonight—Paul and Jeremy Novak—who’ve helped write the show and have some of their own insights and experiences to share. They hail from Reno, Nevada and are spending a week with us on TurkeyTail Farm in Yankee Hill. Paul and Jeremy will be going in to 7th grade next fall, and they have thought a good deal about environmental issues.  Tonight they will be bringing you some ideas about how kids can learn more about environmental issues and help with environmental problems.

Listen to the program.

Susan: We’ll talk about some of the sources we’ve found for teaching kids about the environment, but first some news stories on kids and the environment.

Steve: One of the organizations we learned more about for this program is the Alliance for Climate Education.

ACE is a national nonprofit dedicated to educating America’s high school students about the science behind climate change and inspiring them to do something about it—while having fun along the way.

[Their ] . . . educators visit high schools around the country to give students the scientific skinny on climate change through . . .  multimedia assembly which ampifies climate science with dynamic multimedia, texting, music and social media for climate science that sticks. After the assembly, [they] help students take on climate projects in their community and schools–anything from starting a recycling club to solarizing their schools district. . . . [They] also work with an array of partners to provide expert assistance to students, post lots of fun videos, and ask for feedback and give away prizes through [their] . . . Facebook page.


Jeremy has had some experience with this program. Jeremy, tell us about what you learned through ACE.

Jeremy: When ACE came to my school I learned a lot about climate change. I learned the causes, the effects, and the solutions altogether of climate change in one 45-minute period. ACE also presented these points in a kid-friendly cartoon and when the cartoon was done said, “but this is just a cartoon kids. What can you do in the real world?”

Then they went on to explain ways that even kid who didn’t have much time could do a little bit to help the earth. For example, turn off lights when you’re not in the room, or take shorter showers, or don’t leave the water running while you’re brushing your teeth.

This assembly was worth the three-quarters of an hour that it took up because it got me thinking about ways I can help the earth in big and small ways.

A few months later, my school was one of the first in the city I live in to get solar panels.

Susan:   Another interesting group we found for kids and the environment was Children of the Earth United. Here’s what they say about their mission:

At this time of global imbalance, we believe it is imperative that the children of the earth join together to create a healthier planet. . . .
Specifically, Children of the Earth United aims to help people to:

    * develop a greater understanding and respect for animals, plants, water, soil, air and energy systems;
    * comprehend the positive and negative environmental effects of our actions;
    * acquire a knowledge of practical, sustainable living strategies which consciously and carefully utilize our natural resources;
    * obtain information on nature programs, centers and organizations; and
    * share and learn from each other’s creative ideas and knowledge.

Children of the Earth United aims to accomplish these objectives through a free . . .  interactive educational information system accessible through the internet. . . . [and other educational programs].

Their webpage includes creative writing and articles written by kids, animated presentations and interactive videos, facts, and games by and for kids on recycling, native wisdom, green homes, nature programs, books, and other topics.

Their website is:

Paul, tell us about one of the things you found of interest on this website.

Paul:  From acid rain to zooplankton, the eco-glossary of Children of the Earth United website is a learning tool, which teaches important terms and words about ecosystems, animals, natural disasters, and so forth. For example, I was interested by the definition of ultraviolet radiation

Here’s what they say:

The energy range just beyond the violet end of the visible spectrum. Although ultraviolet radiation constitutes only about 5 percent of the total energy emitted from the sun, it is the major energy source for the stratosphere and mesosphere, playing a dominant role in both energy balance and chemical composition.

Most ultraviolet radiation is blocked by Earth’s atmosphere, but some solar ultraviolet penetrates and aids in plant photosynthesis and helps produce vitamin D in humans. Too much ultraviolet radiation can burn the skin, cause skin cancer and cataracts, and damage vegetation.

Steve:  Jeremy, what did you find in this website of interest to you?

Jeremy:   I found a very interesting page under the title of Green Homes. It contained eight videos created by Building Green TV, each one talking a about different ways to build houses in a green way. Titles include    Building with Straw Bales, Using Water Wisely: Catching Rainwater & Using Gray Water for Landscaping, Radiant Floor Heating & Blue Jean Insulation, and  Framing & Roofing, which I watched. This video describes which material is best for building a frame and why. It also describes a useful technique of using rainwater collected from the roof for “domestic needs.”

Paul:  The website features a series of writing and drawings by children under “Creative Kids.” All of the pieces are about nature. Kids can also submit their own artwork and writing to the website.

The artwork and poems reminded me of “River of Words.”

Susan:  What’s River of Words?

Paul: River of Words is an organization which is devoted to teaching people about nature. The group runs a variety of workshops and activities like creek clean-ups. I entered a contest which they ran for children’s nature art and poetry. I was one of less than 100 finalists out of almost twenty thousand entries.

Susan:  Wow, that’s great. What did you write?

Paul:  I wrote a poem called “Simplicity,” which described a local lake in Reno where I live.

Susan:  Can you recite it?

Paul:  No.

Susan:  Darn. Are you sure?

Paul:  Yep.

Steve: OK, well, this is Ecotopia on KZFR and tonight we are talking with Paul and Jeremy Novak about their interests in the environment.  By the way, The River of Words website  is:  http://www.riverofwords.org/

Another site we liked is from Canada.  Started in 1994, EcoKids is a free, environmental education program that offers curriculum-linked materials and activities for . . . elementary schools to engage in environmental action.

[The] . . . EcoKids web site . . . is an interactive environmental web site for children, their families, and educators in Canada and around the world. It offers topical information about the environment through interactive, fun, educational games and activities that utilize participants’ willingness to learn.

Children are encouraged to form their own opinions, make decisions, get involved and understand the impact their own actions have on the environment.

You can find them at:

Jeremy, what did you find interesting on this site?

Jeremy:  Since I’m a kid, I enjoyed the part of the website that was games and activities. When you click on games a window opened up with eight categories—wildlife, climate change, energy, the North, water, waste, land use, and First Nations and Inuit. I decided to click on the North, because of the picture of the aurora borealis which interests me greatly.

Steve: So what did you do in that section?

Jeremy:   I did an Artic climate quiz. On this I got five of six correct. The one I missed, I learned a very interesting fact. Did you know that the top three producers of greenhouse gases in the world are the United States, Australia, and Canada? Who knew?

Susan:  I didn’t.

Steve:   Me neither. I thought maybe India or China would be up there by now.

Jeremy:  There are three other quizzes—Canada’s North People Quiz, Canada’s North Climate Quiz, and Artic Animals Quiz.

My twin Paul did another part of the site. Paul, what did you do?

Paul:  Under Homework Help, there are ten options: Wildlife, Climate Change, Energy, The North, Water, Waste, Land Use, Earth Day, First Nations & Inuit, and Renewable Energy. I chose Wildlife, and then chose Frogs and Roads from 18 options. It provided information about how many frogs are squashed by cars during migration and described how to prevent those dangers.

The Homework Help section includes interviews, field guildes, quizzes, information presented with interesting graphics, and games.

Susan:  I found a game on this page that I found very addicting; it’s called “Sing Along at Ribbit Pond.” You have to try to identify frog calls, after a brief introduction to different kinds of frogs. You might want to try it.

Susan:  This is Ecotopia on KZFR, and tonight we are sharing the mikes with Jeremy and Paul Novak, two young friends of ours, who are interested in what kids can do about the environment.

While we were browsing the web with Jeremy and Paul, we spend a lot of time at the  Eco-Kids website. I really liked a  section called EcoReporter. Here there are both articles and videos by and about kids who have done something to help the environment. There are articles about kids instituting recycling programs, educating others about water conservation, and one idea I particularly liked was a litterless lunch program presented in a video by elementary school children.

Steve:  The Kids Ecology Corps, based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, has as its mission to inspire young people to  . . .

 make environmental action part of their everyday life and generate a critical mass of people to create Environmental Harmony throughout the world. . . .

Environmental Harmony is the healthy balance between man and earth’s universal ecosystems. This balance insures the earth’s ability to naturally renewal its resources and offers us an abundant economy and a healthy, sustainable future.
. . . .
Once young people learn accurate information about their environment and how they influence it; and once they realize that they are the most important people on the planet, they take positive action to shape their own healthy and abundant futures. . . .

Paul:  In a few seconds, we’re going to give you some ideas for things you can try at home, so you might want to get a pencil and some paper.

The site provides these eight ideas and activities:
 · #1: How and What Does Nature Recycle Naturally?
 · #2: When You Use Water, You Use Everything In It.
 · #3: Is the Air In Your Community Clean?
 · #4: Create Acid Rain in Your Own Kitchen!
 · #5: Be Your Own Paper Recycling Company!
 · #6: Do You Know What Soil Is Made Of? ·
   # 7: How Tall is Your Favorite Tree?
 · #8: Build Your Own Rainforest
Jeremy:  To begin, I’ll tell you how to create acid rain in your own kitchen. First of all, the site tells you that:

Acid rain is caused by air pollution. When clean rain water falls down through air that is polluted, the rainwater becomes polluted. It becomes very acid. This experiment will show you what that means.

Acid rain has killed many trees in the northeast United States, especially in the past 20 years.

To experiment in creating acid rain, you will need:

    * Six short strips of masking tape to use as labels
    * A pen or marker
    * Three 1-quart jars with lids
    * Measuring cups
    * A bottle of vinegar or lemon juice
    * Tap water
    * Three small potted plants that you’re willing to sacrifice in the name of science

Here’s What You Do

   1. Arrange the jars and the plants so that each jar has a plant next to it.
   2. Make two labels that say “a little acid.”
   3. Measure 1/4 cup of vinegar or lemon juice. Pour it into the first jar. Fill the jar the rest of the way with tap water.
   4. Label the jar with one of the labels that says, “a little acid.”
   5. Label the plant next to it with the other label that says, “a little acid.”
   6. Make two labels that say “a lot of acid.”
   7. Measure one full cup of vinegar or lemon juice.
   8. Pour it into the second jar. Fill the jar the rest of the way with tap water.
   9. Label the jar with one of the labels that says, “a lot of acid.”
  10. Label the plant next to it with the other label that says, “a lot of acid.”
  11. Make two labels that say, “tap water.”
  12. Fill the last jar with tap water.
  13. Label the jar with one of the labels that says, “tap water.”
  14. Label the last plant with the other labels that says, “tap water.”
  15. Set the plants next to each other, so they get the same amount of sunlight.
  16. Every 2 to 4 days, water the plants with the water from the jar that has the label that matches the plant’s label.
  17. Write down what you see and when you see it.

Paul:  I want to tell you about how to measure the height of your favorite tree. To do this you’ll need:

    * A strip of paper that is white or a very bright color
    * A straight pin
    * A ruler that measures in inches (at least 12 inches, and longer if you are going to measure a very tall tree
    * A pencil and a piece of paper

Here’s What You Do

   1. Find out how tall you are.
   2. Pin a piece of paper on the tree trunk at your height (at the top of your head).
   3. Being very careful not to stumble, walk away from the tree while you hold the ruler at arms’ length away from you.
   4. Walk away until the 1 inch mark on the ruler is even with the strip of white paper AND the 0 mark on the ruler is even with the bottom of the tree trunk.
   5. Write down the inch mark where the very top of the tree touches.
   6. Now, multiply the inch mark the top of the tree touches by your height. The answer will be how many inches tall the tree is. To get find out the number of feet tall the tree is, divide your answer by 12 inches. Example: 11 inches x 50 inches = 550 inches. 550 divided by 12 = 45 feet, 10 inches.
This is Ecotopia on KZFR, and tonight we are talking about what kids can do about the environment.

The EPA Environmental Kids Club is the Environmental Protection Agency’s web site for kids. [They have ideas for kids to] help you explore [their] environment and learn how to protect it. [They’ve] got games, pictures, and stories.


This site includes links to information on
# Air
# Water
# Garbage & Recycling
# Plants & Animals
# You & Your Environment

The links provide facts, games, activity books, and stories about children’s work in these areas. There is also an art room, a game room, a science room, and a trophy case, which describes the winners of the President’s Environmental Youth Awards (PEYA).

Steve:  The website has extensive information on climate change, describing what it is, what the greenhouse effect is, how climate has changed over time, how we humans change the climate, what the consequences of that are, and what we can do to make a difference. Jeremy, what are some of your thoughts on this.

Jeremy: I’d like to use this time to talk about the optimistic side of climate change. People today are dealing with the issues the earth faces by creating inventions like solar power or wind power. I believe that photo-voltaic cells, or solar power is important because, wherever it’s sunny, extreme power can be generated. It’s the same with wind turbine – ,but where ever it’s windy. A geothermal plant, or a plant which turns warmth in rock like lava, only requires a way to dig beneath the ground. Tidal power only requires a place near the ocean.

Susan:   That completes our program on kids and the environment.  We want to thank Paul and Jeremy Novak for being with us and having such positive and interesting ideas.


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2. Teach Your Children 3:02 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Four Way Street 
3. Solar Power Princess 2:45 Nooshi the Balloon Dude Ready, Set, Go Green 
4. Cool, Cool River 3:56 Paul Simon Rhythm Of The Saints 
5. Frog Went a-Courtin’ – We All Stand Together 5:20 The King’s Singers Kids’ Stuff
6. Fake Plastic Trees 4:51 Radiohead The Bends  
7. Wind Power 3:03 David Suzuki Space Child 
8. Weave Me the Sunshine 4:28 Peter, Paul And Mary  The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary 
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