Sunday, January 14, 2018

2018 Events

February 2nd - Browning SciCafe
You are invited to gather with us and guest speaker Professor Martin Speight of Oxford University in the Kurani Gym on February 2, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Professor Speight, a researcher in tropical ecology and zoology, will discuss his work, developments in the field of conservation biology, the future of biodiversity and how high schools can get involved. Click here to RSVP and find out more.

April 14th - A Sustainability Through Student Voices Conference
A conference designed for and by students tackling the challenges of creating a sustainable future. Purchase tickets and submit workshop ideas here

April 20th - Browning Biodiversity Day
Are you a scientists or naturalist that would like to share your knowledge of the natural world by exploring Central Park with students? Please join us! Find out more information here. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Frozen Banana Nutella Sandwiches - Delicious frozen treats

I read this recipe somewhere recently and thought it was a great idea so I tried it. Turns out, whoever came up with this is brilliant! It's delicious, really fast and easy, and a great way to use up your ripe bananas.

Let me know what you think!

From my kitchen to yours:

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Konjac Sponge - an eco-friendly exfoliant?

I was scrolling through the ecouterre website the other day when I came across an article about the environmental impact of plastic microbeads that make up exfoliants. Apparently the scrubbing beads are so small they float their way out of the sewer treatment centers and deposit themselves in the waterways. These tiny plastic particles are then mistaken for food by the local fauna which can lead to bioaccumulation and magnification through the food chain... troubling.

Even more troubling, was I contributing to this environmental disaster?

I slowly made my way to the bathroom, knowing full well what I would find in my favorite exfoliant... plastic microbeads. Yep, Guilty.

Thankfully the world wide web is stock full of helpful alternatives:
- Salt scrubs
- Sugar scrubs
- Walnut scrubs
- and Konjac Sponges

What is a Konjac sponge? Great question, I asked myself the same thing when I came across it in Real Simple. It comes from a plant that grows in mountainous regions of Asia, particularly Japan and Korea. Apparently, Konjac root has been part of the Japanese diet for over 1500 years and for the last couple century it has been transformed into a gentle exfoliating sponge. It is sometimes combined with red clay and charcoal for additional properties.

The process is simple. Let the sponge soak up water until it is fluffy, squeeze out the excess water, and then gently scrub the dead skin cells and left over sun block from your face. It be used solely with water or with your favorite face wash. This gentle exfoliant is 100% biodegradable to boot! It is recommended to change your sponge every 3 months, so I'll be testing it's biodegradability then. 

There are many brands of Konjac sponges but I gave the Dew Puff Original a try. It was $7 on amazon, you can find the exact link under the Whozits and Whatzits tab. The first one I ordered started to mold within the first week so I sent it back to amazon. I got a new one within two days and the shipping was free. It is important to let the sponge dry out between uses meaning, in my case, that I can only use it once a day. I installed a little hook on the wall for it to hang and dry. So far so good, I have been using it for 3 weeks and my skin feels clean and smooth. It is really easy to use and definitely speeds up my morning routine quite a bit. It is also much easier than making the facial scrubs. 

Take care!




Sunday, August 3, 2014

{reduce,reuse,recycle} paper shredder

This idea came to me only today as I filled my second bag of shredded materials that this could easily be used to cover the bottom of a rabbit cage, a free alternative to expensive bedding. I generally choose the recycled paper option anyway. Add a little baking soda to help absorb the odor and you are set!
As for the environmental impact of such a change in habit, I would qualify it as a "lesser of two evils" option. 

What do you do with your shreddings?
Take care!

Friday, April 11, 2014

March showers bring April flowers...

Was that how the saying went? It's definitely what is happening in NYC right now. I spotted 4 different types of flowers on my way home from the bus stop today (about a 5minute walk): Magnolias, forsythias, tulips, and daffodils.
I wasn't even trying. Take a look!

Spring has arrived!!! Yay!!!!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Bill Nye, the Science guy

Science Rules

On April 3rd 2014, I saw Bill Nye give a talk to hundreds if science teachers at the NSTA conference in Boston.
He was funny, interesting, and inspiring. 
He reminded me to take advantage of all of life's random teachable moments and that science was not only knowledge but also a process. This is good advice for all of us teachers out there. 

Let's change the world, one kid at a time.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Green Font Choice - Garamond

Concerned about ink usages but still required to print documents out? 14 year old scientist, Suvir Mirchandani, reveals a simple way to save ink - change ink font.

Mirchandani, who published two studies on topic, recommends the use of Garamond to reduce your ink usage.  The table below, taken from his 2013 paper, compares the ink usage of 4 different fonts for 5 different letters.
[Image from Mirchandani and Pinko, 2013]

Mirchandani's studies wish only to be useful, he calculated the savings a school and the government could make by simply changing fonts and the results are astounding. He estimates the government could save $394 Million a year by making the switch, that's a significant amount that could be reinvested in other sectors such as education.

As a teacher, I will definitely be making the switch on my handouts.

Take care!


Mirchandani, Suvir, and Peter Pinko. "The effect of font type on a school’s ink cost." Journal of Emerging Investigators March (2013): 1-7. 
Web. 30 Mar. 2014. Mirchandani-2013.pdf>.

Mirchandani, Suvir, and Peter Pinko. "A Simple Printing Solution to Aid Deficit Reduction." Journal of Emerging Investigators 
March (2014): 1-5. Web. 30 Mar. 2014. Mirchandani-2014-Ink-Cost-2.pdf>.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

{Ultimate Cuteness} Olinguito

Welcome to Ultimate Cuteness, the sporadic themed post where I get to share the cutest nature pictures found on the internet.

This week we discover the Olinguito (pronounced oh-lin-GHEE-toe), a new species of tiny mammal discovered in 2013 in the Andes canopy. This relative of the racoon may have been observed before 2013 but confused with the Olingo.

Oh its cute enough as an adult, but as a baby... it's to die for! Look at those fluffy ears!!!

Just soak in the cuteness...
Take care!

For more information:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

BYOB #bagitnyc

[Picture Credit]
Have you heard of Bill No.1135? How about the Ban the Bag movement? Well, it's happening in NYC and it might be happening or has happened where you are...

The objective is simple, reduce the number of single use plastic bags used - you know the ones, the ones that are so thin you need to double or triple bag in order to carry home some apples (... or candy... no judgement).

Did you know that NYC spends 10 MILLION DOLLARS a year just to get rid of plastic bags? Ridiculous, right? Don't believe me? I hear it from NYC Deputy Commissioner for Recycling and Sustainability, Ron Gonen himself.

These plastic bags are such a low quality of plastic "film" that they are not worth recycling because no one is really interested with the resulting plastic product. (This being said, there are some very creative individuals out there...) So our bags end up in landfills somewhere or for many of them they remain in our environment floating around our streets, and wrapping around tree branches. These bags won't degrade for years and they release toxic particles in the environment. Either whole or in particle form, these plastic bags frequently end up as very unhealthy and in many cases deadly snacks for marine organisms.

Instagram #bagitnyc
The bill proposes the add a convenience fee of 10 cents for every bag you use. Why? In hopes that this 10 cent fee will motivate us shoppers to bring reusable bags with us.

Whether or not you think this bill should be put in place, using reusable bags is a good idea - not just for the environment but also for the sake of your hands that may have to carry heavy bags up all the way up to your oh so quaint 5th floor walk up.

BYOB can also mean Bring Your Own Bag...

Take care!


Want to take action?

Participate on Instagram by geo tagging pictures of plastic bags seen around NYC, add the #bagitnyc for it to add it to the ever growing community map

Bring it to the classroom!

Need more info?

Want to read opposing views?

Interested in alternative uses for plastic bags?

Bag it. Dir. Jennifer Abbott and Mark Achbar. Perf. Ray Anderson and Noam 
     Chomsky. Docurama, 2011. Film. 
Gonen, Ron. Hewitt's Ban the Bag Even. The Hewitt School, New York. 1 Mar. 2014. 
     Address. NYC Deputy Commissioner for Recycling and Sustainability 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Pesto Pesto Pesto

The calendar tells me it's spring although the weather is not really supporting these claims here in the big apple. Although most days still require me to bundle up, there are other signs around: the ducks are back, most of the snow is gone, and I suddenly have the urge to cook!

This resurgence of the domestic goddess may only be a result of being on spring break but regardless of the reason, I'm on a mission to master the art of PESTO.

[Picture Credit Inspired Taste - my own to come]
What you will need:

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste  

Let's get cooking.


1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
2 Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Makes 1 cup.
Serve with pasta, or over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguette slices.

(based on a recipe from Simply

I'm off to the grocery story because I am missing most of these ingredients.

Take care!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Future of Zoos

A short video by the New York Times describing the how zoos have changed over time and what role they hold in the futur.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The secret of the Red Pepper

Do you prefer red peppers to green ones? Aren't they just so much sweater and tastier to munch on? Have you ever wondered where they came from?

You're in for a treat!

First of all, peppers are from the family solonaceae - like potatoes and tomatoes. (Yep, they're related. Surprised? Doubtful? Look at they flowers.)
You must also know that peppers are fruit. A fruit is the result of reproduction that holds seeds, it has nothing to do with degree of sweetness or when we choose to eat it.
Test it out for yourself. Cut a pepper open. Do you see those flat roundish white things? Seeds. Don't believe me? Let them dry and plant them.

Getting to heart of the matter: Red peppers, where do they come from?

Drum roll please.

They are green peppers that got a little more time to mature on the plant.

BAM WAM thank you Mam. Are you chocked, surprised, intrigued? I was.

I didn't really believe it until my little green babies turned red. I left them on the plant for an extra month after they stopped getting bigger. I guess that's why they are more expensive.

On that note, Happy Holidays! I'll be back in the new year.

Take care!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Black Rhinoceros Relocation in South Africa

When I see an elephant rhinoceros fly

I seen a peanut stand, heard a rubber band
I seen a needle that winked its eye
But I be done seen 'bout ev'rything
When I see a elephant fly

(What d'you say, boy?)
I said when I see a elephant fly

I seen a front porch swing, heard a diamond ring
I seen a polka-dot railroad tie
But I be done seen 'bout ev'rything
When I see a elephant fly

- Walt Disney's Dumbo 1941

Yeah, I seen all that too... but I never thought I'd see 20 Rhinos fly.

No, it's not a mass migration, it's a relocation project funded in part by the World Wildlife Fund in South Africa. The pictures are beautiful, I can only imagine how much work went into this.

Flying Rhinos from Green Renaissance on Vimeo.

Take care!

Source : NPR -

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A New Way to Cook Pasta

Save water, save time, cook your pasta in your frying pan!

Take care!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

American Kestrel

Falco sparverius

A couple days ago now, my hubby and I were stuck in traffic on the FDR North after a satisfying shopping spree at the Commissary at Fort Hamilton.  We were creeping along, Wolfster was arguing with the sports announcer on the radio and I was staring at the gangly vegetation struggling to grow through the fumes. 

As I mused about what the FDR would look like if humans suddenly disappeared, a Mourning dove sized bird sitting on the fence comes into view. I sit up, excited to see something living. I love Mourning doves, their elegant tail feathers and mournful call, but what was it doing so close to cars? As we get closer, it becomes very apparent that we are not dealing with a dove. Its little body is perched perfectly still and upright, a curved beak, dark lines framing its cheeks - its an American Kestrel. 

Oh my! I frantically searched for my cellphone to snap a picture of this miniature aerial predator but my giant pouch of a purse is toying with me. The American Kestrel, also referred to as Sparrow Hawk, is the smallest falcon in North America. I would regularly see them near the abandoned train yard just outside Montreal. They adapt quite well to an urban landscape, hunting small mammals and insects. 

The traffic picks up right as we pull up the the perched raptor and my cellphone still eludes me. Drats! I missed it. The only picture I will have of this NYC Kestrel is the one etched in my mind.

At least I know they are there, I'll be ready next time.

Take care!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Help Support Sustainable Farming

by pledging a small amount to Cardo's Farm Project.

Located outside Denton, Texas, this small sustainable farm is working hard to promote and provide clean fruit and vegetables to the community. Help Dan and Amanda expand their farm to a full acre. They are on Kickstart hoping to gather $15,000 for the cause - watch their video and fall in love with the farm.

Thanks for your help!

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Online Dissections?

Is this the future of High School Science Labs?

Frog Dissection Game
Frog Dissection
games surgery games

Although nothing can compare to the incredible smell of preserved specimens, this may solve the problem of the sensitive student and save us from negative karma.

I like it.
What do you think?

Take care!

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Faces, a human obsession

I just finished watching this fascinating BBC documentary about faces and why Fame and Facial Recognition is so prevalent in today's media.

Great stuff, not to mention David Attenborough is in it and I LOVE him.



Friday, June 10, 2011

Jelly Fish, Older than Dinosaurs

JellyfishImage by CodyHanson via Flickr
“Jellyfish are the most ancient multiorgan animal on earth,” 
- David J. Albert
Jellyfish expert 
Roscoe Bay Marine Biological Laboratory
  Vancouver, British Columbia.

They have been around for 600-700 million years or more, that's 3 times the age of dinosaurs. Not to mention that they are still around today in amazingly large numbers and incredible diversity. 

They are not just sacs of goo either. A recent study published in Current Biology of May 2010. Dr. Garm and his team studied the box jellyfish and discovered an incredible visual system. They cataloged and described an average of 24 eyes divided into 4 different types - some of them very similar to our very own.

Not to mention never before acknowledge behavioral patterns, they aren't just mindless floating plankton going wherever the sea bring them.

Read more about these amazing animals once again in the New York Times Science section. Click here for a link to the full article. 

Take care!

Angier, Natalie. "So much more than plasma and poison." New York TImes 06 June 2011. Environment . 10 June 2011 .
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Sea Mice?

Have you ever heard of irregular sea urchins? Roughly heart shaped creatures that bury themselves in the sand only to come out at night in large numbers and scurry across the ocean floor in search for food.


Me neither. Well, not until this morning when I scrolled down the science section of the New York Times. Dr. Rich Mooi is presently in the Philippines studying echinoids (starfish, sand dollars, urchins, etc.).

Click on the picture to read more & live vicariously through his discoveries.

Take care!

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Natural Sport Drink

Feeling hot?
This fantastic recipe for a natural substitute for sport drinks will keep you refreshed and Hydrated. 

Put on your aprons, pull out your chopping board and measuring cups because we are going to make some culinary magic happen.

"Cloudy" Lemonade, a mixture of lemo...Image via Wikipedia
You will need : 
1 cup of hot water
1 tsp of Honey
1/2 a squeezed lemon
a pinch of salt (~1/4 tsp)

How to:
I usually make 4 cups, so multiply the ingredients by 4 - you know the drill.
Boil the water. While the water is boiling, squeeze two lemons & pour the juice into your carafe. Fresh lemon juice is better than store bought, yes, there will be pits and pulp but the added nutrients & enzymes are worth it. Once the water has boiled, measure a cup (250ml) and dissolve the salt and the honey in the hot water. Pour the mix into the carafe & add 3 cups of boiled water. Put the whole thing in the freezer for about 30 min or until cool.
Serve & enjoy or keep it for later. Drink it within a couple days for best hydrating results!

Take care!

Dubrosky, Anna. "Fix yourself a drink." Yoga Journal June 2011: 28.

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