Archive | November 2013

Brasil’s Trash

IMG_0778 IMG_0811 IMG_0820IMG_1137As I talked about in my last post, I wanted to show you guys how drastically different trash is in Brasil. My dad works for Rubbermaid, he knows all about trash cans and plastic molds. He was in Brasil at their Rubbermaid factory and snapped these pics around town. One photo shows how they sort their trash in the factory, and my dad says this sort of sorting area is common in Brasil. I haven’t seen anything like this around town, only on campus. One is a view down the street to a large dumpster, that is where the people on the street take their trash and then it it picked up their. The small bags on the street are where people have curbside pickup. But look how small the bags are! They don’t even use bins for curbside pickup. In one picture, you can see how affluent people have gated houses, and their trash goes in small decorative bins. It’s just dramatically different from here in the U.S. where we have such large trash cans and people have an attitude like they’re not responsible for their trash. I’m not sure if Brasil has different laws or if their attitude toward waste is different. Interesting though!

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Learning About the CVWMA

Here’s the plastic bottle video! It’s cute! And effective.

I learned a lot from our guest lecturer, Nancy Drumheller. I did not know that the recycling here in Richmond is single stream! I have been separating all my paper and cardboard waste out and bagging it separately all this time! In my hometown you have to separate everything. My dad always made me break down the boxes and separate everything. It’s ingrained now to do that. I thought it was cool that the drivers get paid based on how much stuff they pick up, that should inspire the community to recycle more so that the drivers get paid more! You would think that is an easy way to help the economy. Also, I knew that landfills got capped off, but I just didn’t realize that that stopped everything from breaking down and being composted. But it makes sense if you’re cutting off the air! I wonder if it would be better to not cap a landfill and just let it sit. Or establish a landfill for food waste, and not mix it with other waste so that it’s easier to dispose of. Maybe we should take that extra step to separate our waste even further.

It is amazing how much we throw away in America though. I try not to waste anything, but it’s hard. Everyday you’re bombarded with ads on television, in magazines, or even on the radio telling you to buy stuff. You guys have probably heard the term “throwaway society” to describe our economy. My high school AP Environmental Studies teacher gave us bags and told us to throw away all our waste into them for a day to see how much we throw away. It was a cool experiment. I think Americans throw away more stuff than any other country. I’ll have to get my dad to email me the picture, but he was in Brasil and their weekly trash pickup was about the size of a Kroger plastic bag. I’ll post it here later!

I wanted to find some statistics on recycling in America, and I found this website called Keep America Beautiful. It says that in 2009, Americans recovered 34% of its waste from that year. That seems like a low number, but it’s actually high: that’s 82 million tons. KAB says this amount of recycling reduces our CO2 emissions to the equivalent of taking 33 million cars of the road. Recycling employs people, and even generates revenue from selling the materials. KAB says the industry is growing, too.

I can’t imagine why people don’t recycle. It’s 2013! I think it really depends how you were brought up though. My mom only recycles because my dad takes it out and everything. She wasn’t raised in a household that recycles. I cringe every time I go to my grandma’s and see her using a Styrofoam plate. But my dad is big on recycling, and I was raised to care about it, so now I do it for me and my roommate. I’d say that folks who are 18-25 and don’t recycle probably live in a big apartment building, don’t have their own place, or don’t want to buy a bin. If the CVWMA wanted to reach more people, and get more people to recycle, they could do what VCU does: put recycling bins around the city. Recycling in the dorms were easy because VCU has bins all over campus, you just have to walk a block and toss in your junk. I think that the city has trash cans on some blocks around the city, they could put recycling bins. I think there are even bins like that at Kroger, but this way people don’t have to drive their waste far outside the city. I’m not sure if places do this, but you could give the bins away for free.

Lastly, you have to make recycling cool. I know when my friends don’t have recycling, I give them a hard time about it. “Oh, you don’t recycle? I thought everyone recycled.” I don’t think there needs to be any incentives to recycle. Maybe recycling needs a good campaign, or slogan, like “Just do it!” Just recycle. It’s really not that hard.

Reflection on Teaching

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Before I taught at the Rice center, all I could do was worry about teaching there. I took Eric’s advice to talk more and practiced my slides again with my roommate and my friend Mady. Eventually I had to tell myself to stop stressing and just lay down in bed, and imagine myself teaching. If I could stop thinking about all the bad things that could go wrong, and just imagine the whole situation going great, maybe I would calm down. Since I gave this advice to Siobhan, I wanted to look it up and see if it’s effective and how it works. Guided Visualization: A Way to Relax, Reduce Stress, and More! on PsychCentral advises people to try to use positive visualization to reduce stress. Even though everyone is very busy, trying to spend some time quieting your mind and body. This can lower your blood pressure and stress hormones. It’s a lot like meditation, except you’re not totally clearing your mind. I’ve never been any good a meditation; I can’t shut off my brain. But this method allows me to let my brain keep running on, just changing my thoughts to a positive course, instead of spiraling downward. Athletes may use this technique a lot; for example by visualizing the course a runner may run a better race. So, I thought of myself teaching and everyone answering the questions and the lecture  moving right along. It didn’t stop me from being nervous, but I became more excited about teaching instead of dreading it. 

Like the image above, I was worried that I was going to think I was doing a great job teaching and the students just weren’t going to get it or be inspired. I think I got really excited that I was getting feedback from some of the students, I was just really excited they were talking and answering my questions, and I sped up the presentation thinking everyone was following me. I think if I taught it again I would have to slow down and make sure I was asking different students to clarify what I’m saying, or answer a question, to really make sure everyone is involved and knows what’s going on. That has to be a hard thing to do, when you’re teaching, to take students who are on all different levels of understanding and bring them to the same place together. But the students were really great! I feel lucky I had such a good class, and knowing their behavior makes me really excited to teach the Excel presentation. I feel now like I know I can teach it, it’s just a matter of getting it done. I feel a lot more confident now. 

One of my goals in taking this course was to see how I feel about teaching. I thought it was really rewarding and I enjoyed meeting the students and seeing how excited they were to be on a field trip. I’m not sure about being a teacher, but if there was a job where I just run the field trips all the time I would really like that! I really liked the outreach and outdoor education part of the experience.

China to close Schools, and Outdoor Activities During Heavy Smog

China to close Schools, and Outdoor Activities During Heavy Smog

Will China toughen up on their pollution laws if the smog is having this much effect?

Can Sea Life Adapt?

Can Sea Life Adapt?

Some sea urchins are shrinking to adapt to the ocean’s new chemistry, but some remain large. This means that sea urchins may be able to pass on the tolerance to their offspring and adapt to the new conditions. But, is this true for other species? The variability to adapt is different for all species. This page also has information under the SEA CHANGE: Can Sea Life Adapt? tab. Under videos, I recommend watching ‘Sea Change: The Pacific’s Perilous Turn.’ It’s only about 9 minutes long and could be a great addition to the Why Do We Care powerpoint.

Excel Presentation Reflection

Excel Presentation Reflection

I think that my strengths in this presentation were at the start, reviewing the material that we covered at the Rice center and the data results. I think that part of the presentation had a good flow and moved along at a good pace, but it might take longer with the students to jog their memory. It was easy to teach the first part even though I hadn’t made any changes to the PowerPoint.
I think my weaknesses are that I need a better understanding of the statistics like the t-test before I teach it to everyone. The differences between operating the excel spreadsheet on my MacBook and the classroom’s computer were frustrating and I think I should try to practice on the computers in the library more, so that when I’m teaching I can help the students more. I thought I had prepared enough over the weekend by working on the blank spreadsheet and reviewing the slides, but the material was hard to explain, and it was hard to give good definitions for standard deviation, t-test, and critical t value. I need to brush up on my statistic terms before I attempt to give the presentation again. I do feel more confident giving presentations, though. The first time I presented my mind definitely went blank a few times. But over the semester I feel like I have gained confidence in speaking to people through this class and from volunteering.
I was thinking about the fact that students in the class may have had experience with excel and I can ask them to help those around them, or like Eric said, students may be more likely to ask their classmates rather than one of us. I looked up students teaching students to see if I could get any more information on how effective that is. In “Students Teaching Students: Evaluation of a “Near Peer” Teaching Experience” professors used fourth-year students to co-teach a radiology course and then have them all evaluate how helpful it was. They found that 47% the co-teachers thought they were “helpful” but 88% of the students enrolled in the radiology course found the co-teachers to be “helpful” or “very helpful” (Naeger). Their study backs up that group work (or group teaching sessions) and near-peer teaching is effective. I hope that the group work we do at the Rice center and during the excel class is very helpful to all the students. I think it might be a good idea to sort of pair up the students to help each other
I think that Siobhan’s presentation flowed really well, and I was able to follow along on my computer easily. I think we both should personalize the PowerPoint a little more so that it is easier to follow and remember.

Naeger, MD, David M., Miles Conrad, MD, Janet Nguyen, MS, Maureen P. Kohi, MD, and Emily M. Webb, MD. 20.9 (2013): 1177-182.Science Direct. Web. 6 Nov. 2013.