Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Here are some more links
Check these shoes out. These are best for in the sand.
This is great for those sunny days.
click on Paula's name at the top and check out all that she does.
This is the site when I read all she does with the bags, stuffing, and tying wreaths
She made me want to do the same. Check out her Wreathes.
And here is the coiled Basket weaving link again. Hope this helps. Let me know.

A Generator That Turns Trash Into Electricity?

On February 1, just a few weeks ago, Purdue University News published a very interesting article about their invention of a generator that turns trash into electricity. This generator is called the "tactical biorefinery." A group of scientists have created it to efficiently convert food, paper, and plastic into electricity.
This machine was designed for the U.S. military and it would allow soldiers to convert waste into power. The best part of all is that the “tactical biorefinery” will have civilian applications in the future.
If you are interested in this news story, check:

Stats and Kids!

On Sat. afternoon last week, I took my 7 year old daughter to the library to volunteer for the River Bend Math Center. We had such a great time, and learned alot in the meantime! There were 3 activities that we participated in, one included a beach ball globe, another with letters, and the 3rd using M&M's these items don't sound much like what would be used to teach statistics but nonetheless, they provided great interactive opportunities for the kids's to learn from. One of the most impressive things to me, was that we had some participants that weren't kids but instead had some learning disability so that these activities were fun and a great way to learn something new even for adult/young adults. I met several nice kids and older people too, one adult woman really impressed me. She was very intelligent but struggled a bit socially or developmenatally, and she was just amazing during the beach ball experiment.
The idea was to learn with repeated sampling that we could get accurate and consistent results. The participant was told that the earth was made up of 75% water, then they were asked to hold up their pointer finger and I tossed the ball to them, wherever their pointer finger landed they said either, "land or water". Someone else recorded the results and after about 10 tosses, we looked at the results to determine if their fingers landed more often on land or water, The results showed that most times for obvious reasons they landed on water, and then the participants gave their ideas about why that happened. Well, the woman I mentioned would also comment on the land that her pointed to, and taught us a bit of geography!
My daughter was writing down fractions, and talking about proportions while using M&M's! Another young man had fun interviewing people about the spelling of their name, then using paper cut out letters he spelled each name and determined the mean, median, and mode for the number of letters his sample of names had! These were kids' doing statistics! It was so much fun, and a great way to fun while learning.

An Incentive

I just finished e-mailing my uncle the owner of Tiki Tan Tanning Salons to see if he would be interested in helping give some sort of "tanning package" towards the top bag donators. Keep your fingers crossed that I delivered the message effectively concerning what we are trying to do. I'll keep you all updated as to what he says :)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Don't forget to make and bring a ball of plastic "yarn" with and bring some whole bags and scissors too. See you tommorow

A few thoughts on garbage!

The State of Garbage (2006) article that we read for class was disturbing to me. I wondered if anyone else felt embarrassed when they read, "The estimated MSW per capita generation rates varied from South Dakota's low of .07 to Indiana's 2.1 tons/person/year." This fact also made me realize how important our project is. Even though our efforts of saving plastic bags from the landfill might just not bring us down to the desirable .07, we are still bringing awareness! It is obvious that Indiana would not be able to drop their generation rates in one large movement, it is going to take small movements, like ours, to get anywhere! I know that this project will get people thinking in many ways and enlighten other aspects of Indiana's recycling and waste.

Just a thought...

A while ago in class we had been talking about various sorts of prizes and/or giveaways that we could hand out to people at the bagfest '07 . Well when returning some movies to blockbuster last night, a thought hit me.... Why don't we see if we could pass out some free movie rental passes? It would be good publicity for any movie rental store, and not cost them much money. Plus, who wouldn't want to come out to IUSB, get rid of their plastic bags, and pick up a free movie rental pass for it??? Just another thought as I'm writing this, free bowling passes would be great too! Especially if we could somehow manage to get some family bowling passes. Even if the passes were only for free games of bowling, and the consumer still had to pay for their bowling shoe rental, I'm sure that many families would being willing to "fork over their stash" of plastic bags for them. I'm not sure if there is any campus policies on which movie rental and bowling companies that can or cannot be advertised on campus, but maybe we could check it out?

Bag Force

In collaboration with Amanda Serenevy, President of Riverbend Math Community Center, we created Bag Force, a student-lead task force that promotes authentic civic action on the conservation of plastic bags. Fourth through twelfth graders are invited to join. Students who participate in Bag Force will conduct the following activities:

Before the festival, Bag Force members are encouraged to develop their background knowledge about this issue. One good source may be found online at

At the festival, Bag Force members will engage in three central activities: First, they will brainstorm questions to ask the panel of experts who will be speaking at the festival. Second, Bag Force members will attend the panel discussion and present their questions to the experts. Third, after the panel discussion, Bag Force members will work together to develop a community action plan. The Bag Force Action Plan will detail the issue discovered from the panel discussion and from the background reading; it will also include suggestions for community improvements. This plan will be submitted to the Voice of the People in the South Bend Tribune.

If you know of some students who may be interested in joining Bag Force, please have them contact me by March 23rd.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ever since I have been reading Garbage Land, I not only think differently about throwing things away, I actually "think" about what I am throwing away. My ten-year-old son asked me the other day,"Mommy, what will we do when all the trash takes over the world?" Realizing that as a consumer, I am part of this problem, I guiltily thought to myself, I don't know. Well, I explained that there are many different things society is trying to do to handle all the trash we produce. I told him that when he gets older, maybe he can work toward a solution to our trash problem. For now, I know that he is following my example; and I want to be a conscientious consumer and trash producer.

I was listening to PBS's The News Hour with Jim Lehrer that aired on February 19, 2007. The show was titled Electronic Waste Adds to Pollution in India. Below is a link to the site if anyone is interested. It amazed me that "53 percent of children under 12 in India's cities are lead-poisoned, meaning permanent brain damage that claims up to 20 percent of a child's I.Q" When I read this, I thought about my son. Much of this electronic waste that is poisoning these children is coming from developed countries like the U.S.! Really makes you think.

stats at the library

I had my second experience volunteering at the library. Today we introduced the kids to statistics. I was in charge of the activity using a beach ball globe. The kids tossed it to each other to see if their finger would land on water or land when they caught it. We used the results to find the percentages. The kids also used different colored M&M’s to find proportion, decimal, and percentages. Cards with letters on them were used spell names then find the mean, medium and mode using the letters of the name. It was a great experience helping the kids of different ages and different learning levels. Some of them were slower and some of them were real bright. I also got to meet a few other volunteers and parents.

family math activity - statistics

Today I volunteered with the family math activity. We did fun statistics activities. The activity that I was mostly involved with involved counting M&M's, making a frequency distribution histogram, then calculating the proportion, decimal, and percentage of M&M's and comparing that to the national average for each color. Needless to say, the kids really enjoyed this activity. We definitely should have done this in our class when we were learning this stuff. Another activity involved the kids taking a small sample of people's first names and then using letters to spell out each name and finding the mean, median, and mode of the number of letters in a person's name. This was interesting because the letters made it easy to visualize the concept.

On Justice Talking

Hi guys,

Justice Talking is a program that airs on National Public Radio (NPR). There was a recently a big story about garbage. And guess what? Royte was interviewed. Please take a moment to listen to her interview, along with several other experts who discuss issues concerning landfills, recycling, and the desire to define "Zero Waste." And I encourage you to post your thoughts and comments about this issue on our blog.

Here's the link:

I look forward to your hearing your reactions! :0) M

Friday, February 23, 2007


Here's a goofy video that I found on youtube about statistics. I hope this video will put a smile on your face, and maybe it'll even make you laugh! I know this week was particularly difficult because we had our first exam. So in light of this stressful week, I hope you enjoy the video! :0) M

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Prototype Flyer Needs Your Support

In anticipation of promoting BagFest in March, I created an unorginal, boring flyer. As you can see, this protope flyer needs some spice! If you're interested in helping me create a fun & jazzy flyer, please let me know!!

These flyers will be distributed to Wal-Mart and grocery stores to promote BagFest two weeks prior to the event. On behalf of this poor flyer, please help! :0)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I finally got to work at the homework clinic at the library. It was my third attempt. The first time a family emergency came up. The second time we got snowed in. They say the third time is always a charm. It was interesting. It allows you to brush up on your math. One lady even said she liked the way I explained it because it made it easier for her. Imagine that, me explaining numbers. One girl was doing things way beyond me.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Oil from Garbage

Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that there may be an elegant solution on the horizon to the gigantic problem of garbage—and not just the kind that gets dumped in landfills, but sewage, too, along with agricultural wastes, used tires, and just about everything else. More good news: we might get to reduce dependence on foreign oil and pay less for gasoline in the process. The bad news? Forget about those electric cars or increased fuel efficiency; abandon hope of seeing your city skyline again—this solution, if it works, will keep internal combustion engines running forever.
What many investors are hoping will be the Next Big Thing is a technology called the thermal depolymerization process, or TDP for short. This patented process is being developed by Changing World Technologies of West Hempstead, New York, with its first full-scale plant already in operation in Carthage, Missouri. The idea behind TDP is not new—in fact, it’s millions of years old. Take organic matter, subject it to heat and pressure, and eventually you get oil. Of course in nature, “eventually” is usually an inconvenient number of millennia; TDP shortens that time to hours, if you can believe that.
A Well-Oiled MachineTDP is a surprisingly straightforward five-step process. First, raw materials are fed into an industrial-grade grinder where they’re chopped up into extremely small bits and mixed with water. The mixture is then subjected to heat and pressure, breaking molecular bonds and reducing the material to simpler components in as little as 15 minutes. The next step is reducing the pressure dramatically to drive off the water; in the process, some useful minerals such as calcium and magnesium settle out as a valuable byproduct. The remaining slurry is sent into a second reactor, which uses even higher temperatures to produce a hydrocarbon mixture. Finally, a distillation step divides the hydrocarbons into vaporous gas (a mixture of methane, propane, and butane), liquid oil (similar to a mixture of gasoline and motor oil), and powdered carbon.
All that to say: garbage in, (black) gold out. The process produces no waste materials, unless you count water, which can be recycled in the system. The gas can be used to produce heat for the machine itself; oil can be sent to refineries to be made into a variety of useful products; carbon can be turned into everything from water filters to toner cartridges; and the remaining minerals can be used as fertilizer.
Virtually any organic material can be fed into a TDP apparatus. By making adjustments to the combinations of temperature, pressure, and cooking times, various input products (referred to as feedstock) can produce a wide range of output products; the proportions of, say, gas to oil to carbon will depend on the composition of the feedstock. The first fully operational TDP system is being used to recycle the waste at a turkey processing plant. All the turkey parts that aren’t used as meat—skin, bones, feathers, and so on—are fed into the machine, thus solving a serious waste problem (up to 200 tons per day) while creating commercially valuable products. But TDP can also process discarded computers, tires (even steel-belted radials), plastic bottles, agricultural waste, municipal garbage…you name it. In fact, the city of Philadelphia is hoping to use TDP to convert the sludge that comes out of its sewage treatment plants into oil, which will later be used to generate electricity.
Nothing is too messy or too scary for TDP to handle. It can make clean, safe materials out of nearly anything. Even medical wastes, dioxins, and other biohazardous materials. Even anthrax, for crying out loud. Apparently the only kind of material this system can’t handle is nuclear waste—I guess you can’t have everything.
Pouring Oil on Troubled WaterThermal depolymerization is just now coming into commercial use, though similar processes have been known for decades. The problem was that they were always too expensive to operate; it cost more for the fuel to decompose the garbage than the resulting materials were worth. The inventors of TDP claim that it is highly energy-efficient—better than 85% in most cases. If that is true, and if it continues to be true on a large scale, then TDP may eventually be able to produce oil more cheaply than drilling, and get rid of garbage as a convenient side-effect—or vice-versa, if you prefer.
As fantastic as TDP sounds, the process does have its critics. Some engineers have expressed skepticism that the energy efficiency could be even close to what Changing World Technologies claims. Even supposing that it were, the oil needs of the United States are currently so massive that if all the agricultural waste in the country were processed into oil, it would still be just a drop in the bucket (so to speak). In other words, so the argument goes, the process holds more promise as a method of recycling and waste reduction than it does as a source of fuel.
The more optimistic viewpoint is that if TDP comes into widespread use, we won’t run out of oil as long as we have garbage. But that also means there will be less incentive to reduce oil consumption or seek out cleaner alternative power sources. Ah, but I suppose every silver lining must have its cloud. —Joe Kissell

Monday, February 19, 2007

Coiled Basket Weave

Chantelle and Saige since you had to leave early. Here is the link on how to make the bowls.
Just use a whole bag, flaten and roll it instead of folding. Cut another bag into the strips and cut the cricle strip into a string use this as your thread. You will need a needle point needle (i have them if you need them) the string you will wrap around the rolled up bag this is in place of the needles. Good luck. Any you is welcomed to look at the link. Happy coiling. Jennifer

Sunday, February 18, 2007

What you Need this week

For those of you that will be going to the workshops this week. This is a some things that you will need to bring with you. Some plastic bags, and scissors. If anyone is unable to bring these with them please inform Michelle or I. I think that if we have time after teaching you how to cut the bags we'll together learn how to do the coiled basket weave methoed that Michelle Verges emailed to me that one of you found on the net.

Michelle Verges check this out. This would be great to show to retailers who are wanting to reduce the use of plastic bags.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

family math activity

Today I volunteered at the family math activity held at the public library by the Riverbend Math Community Center. Again, I felt totally out of my comfort zone in explaining stuff that' s difficult for me, but I learned so much and had a great time in the process. The activity that I helped with today had to do with using materials such as little lightbulbs, batteries, and wires to make the lightbulbs light up and working with logic puzzles. I was impressed by how smart these kids were and how patient even the youngest ones were in trying different methods to make the lightbulbs light up. It certainly seems like sometimes kids have more patience and persistence in stepping out of their comfort zones to try something new than adults do and this certainly applies to learning statistics! I must admit these little kids were inspiring to me as I trudge on through my semester that at times can be very frustrating!

Our Project Presented at Wal-Mart Meeting

Hi guys,

Steve Antonetti, Market Manager of Wal-Mart, invited me to give a presentation about our project to approximately 30 store managers who were attending a regional Wal-Mart meeting. The reason why I was invited to attend this meeting was because our project nicely aligns with Wal-Mart's "Personal Sustainability Project," which is an effort for Wal-Mart employees to select a personal goal that fits with the notion of sustainability. (For example, some employees are reducing their soda-can footprint by drinking less pop in favor of drinking more water.)

So yesterday, I trekked out to Michigan City, IN to give this presentation. The presentation, I think, went well. (Admittedly, it's hard for me to evaluate how well it went because I'm a tough self-critic, but Steve called me later to say it was great, so you'll have to take his word for it!) Anyway, I discussed several facts about the consumption of plastic bags and what we're doing to make some changes in our community.

Afterwards, some of the store managers said they wanted to get involved. Hopefully, the folks at the Wal-Mart store in Mishawaka will get on-board with the project. Another store manager near Gary, IN said he wanted to bring our project to his location. So, maybe one day this project will be brought to a larger level. (But one step at a time, what we're doing is already ambitious! This is what researchers would consider "future research".) And of course, I asked for underwriting support to cover Royte's honorarium and travel expenses. So, please keep your fingers crossed! ;0)

Besides my presentation, it was an eye-opening experience for me to observe what goes on at these meetings. Because I'm a psychologist, I never see how statistics gets applied to the business world. But I kid you not: what you're learning in class applies to the real-world, including business. I listened to a representative from Kimberly-Clark (these are the folks that make products such as Huggies diapers, Kleenex tissue, paper towels, and so on) discuss the importance of selling their products at Wal-Mart by relying on statistics. To give you a couple examples, he had a visual display of the U.S. marked in different colors to indicate the peak cold and flu season. According to his data, 40% of their profits are earned during the Dec-Feb period, presumably because people are sick and are therefore purchasing Kleenex. In another graph, he showed a direct relationship between the purchase of Depends (um, diapers for the elderly...I'm sure there's a better way of saying that!) and the time of month they're purchased. Apparently, the elderly are more likely to buy Depends at the beginning of the month. The Rep suggested this was because social-security checks are dispensed around the same time period.


Just given these few observations, I learned how important it is for me to teach statistics well. That's definitely my commitment to you. And I sincerely hope that whatever lesson(s) you learn this semester will be beneficial to you in the future. Ok, time for me to sign-off now before I get too cheesy! :0) M

Friday, February 16, 2007


I guess what caught my attention most about ch. 4 was when Royte visited Fresh Kills, or what once was Fresh Kills. She encountered a beautiful landscape and detected no or very little evidence of the garbage yet underground it ‘roiled’, as Royte put it, and was still seeping leachate. Then she was told how much leachate was collected. 200 gallons a minute! Wow. Even with all this leachate she said it didn’t smell. That was surprising.
I was also surprised to learn how much of the trash at landfill is paper. We have a wood burning stove that we heat our house with so started throwing my paper stuff into a separate waste basket and burning it in the stove. I have been taking things to the recycle bins in town for years. But I guess I wasn’t too serious about it. I get a lot less waste now that I’m burning my paper and separating more of my recyclables. Although I don’t know how much of it actually gets recycled once I take it to the recycling bins.

Retail Stores

I am a manager at a retail store (Target), of the cashier checklanes to be exact. One of my co-workers is on vacation, so I was the one who put in an order this week to headquarters explaining what kind of supplies that we needed. We just happened to be running low on plastic bags, so naturally, I ordered them. You would not believe the cost! I spent roughly $4,000 on plastic bags. The plastic bags that people will put merchandise in, mostly merchandise in which they do not need, and then discard who knows where: in the garbage, in their cabinet, on the side of the road...
Every time that I visit the blog I notice the ticker at the top with the estimated bags consumed so far this year. Because of this, I have decided to conduct a little experiment of my own tonight. In the random times that I get on a checklane, I am going to count every bag that I give out. I'll write it down, along with the amount of transactions completed, and then I will update you on just how many bags are given out per transaction. Granted, I do not run register for the full eight hours. If I did, the number of bags would probably be too many to count, however, I think that this is a reasonable task which I will complete and get back to you. It really makes you think.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Smart Trash Cans (Now this is Smart!)

This is just a look into the future of trash! I found this video and I thought it was pretty amazing that families were becoming increasingly interested in recycling! Plus you can make big $$ after awhile!

Meet Robin Nagle

The person on the right in the photo is Robin Nagle, the anthropology professor who teaches "Garbage in Gotham"at NYU.

She was recently interviewed on NPR about her experience working as a "san man." If you're interested in hearing the interview, click on this link (and then scroll down to find Episode #249 to listen to the audio podcast). The title of the podcast is called "Garbage." Go figure.

Oscar The Grouch - I Love Trash

I couldn't resist posting this. This should bring back some happy childhood memories for some of us.
:-) Kim

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Peculiar Encounter While Driving Home

So I had quite an unusual experience while driving home from school at about 8pm this last Fri night... I had just gotten off the bypass when all the sudden what looked to be some sort of animal came jetting across the road. I of coarse freaked out thinking that I was going to hit the poor creature and tried my absolute best to avoid disaster. However, just a split-second before the moment of impact I realized that it was not an animal that was crossing my path; and I bet it'll only take you one try to guess what it was. Ding! Ding! Ding! Yup! You guessed it! Low and behold it was a plastic bag! After being briefly terrorized by the thought of roadkill, I couldn't help but laugh out loud when I realized what had just happened. It immediately reminded me of our class and then this got me thinking about the wandering bag's story and so here's what I've come up with:

Many ages ago this very bag was once one of the numerous many bags that we all have stored in the "bag cupboard" in our homes. However, this bag wanted something more in life. He knew that he just had to have a greater purpose than sitting at the bottom of a dark gloomy cupboard. One windy day this bag decided to leave the cupboard and fulfill its destiny. Since then it has been randomly wandering the globe, blowing from here to there, searching for a purpose to fulfill.

Thus, I decided to help this poor bag and so I pulled my car over to the side of the road, got out, and picked the bag up off of the side of the road. It is now going to be one of the first grocery bags I use to make the reusable tote bags with. This experience also got me thinking about how bad the 'grocery bag trash dilemma' must really be if I am seeing random bags littered in public places, just blowing around until someone eventually picks them up.

Bowerman Landfill, Irvine CA Tour

This short video reviews several issues (e.g., hazardous wastes, methane) discussed in Garbage Land. I like the fact that you can hear some of the issues while seeing the visual images at the same time. It made this issue feel a bit more "real" to me because I've never been to a landfill! Anyway, I hope you enjoy watching the footage. :0)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Recycling Plastic Bags

Here is the whole process of recycling plastic bags.

Check out these facts on plastic bags

This site is from Aust. and is all about Aust. but I thought I would share with you all some shocking facts.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


One of the thoughts proposed in chapter 2 of Garbage Land by Elizabeth Royte is that trash is dumped upon trash. A few weeks ago (before it got really cold) I went to the new Beuter Park in Mishawaka, IN and saw that it was beautiful, with no litter anywhere in sight. I think the reason for this is when people are given something beautiful to enjoy, they don't want to make it ugly by littering. The same concept is difficult to apply to large cities such as New York because there are so many people, and cleaning up is so difficult. It is unfortunate that not everyone can have a park like the one in Mishawaka. It is obviously a shame that people have to live in places that are deemed "trashy" and therefore seem like a convenient place to dump trash upon.

Workshop Schedule

For those of you who would like to learn how to make tote bags from reused plastic bags, please take note: Jennifer will be holding a two-part workshop (see schedule below). For the first workshop (Part 1), Jennifer will teach us how to cut the bags into strips to create "yarn" for the tote bags. For the second workshop (Part 2), Jennifer will teach us how to crochet those plastic strips to create tote bags and other crafts. She will also give us patterns so that we can practice at home. Please be advised that you should attend one Part 1 session and one Part 2 session. To accommodate most schedules, Jennifer has agreed to come to campus on the following dates:

Part 1 Workshop Dates (location TBA)
  • Monday, Feb. 19th, 4pm--6pm
  • Wednesday, Feb. 21th, 10am--12pm
  • Saturday, Feb. 24th, 1pm--3pm

Part 2 Workshop Dates (location TBA)

  • Wednesday, Feb. 28th, 4pm--6pm
  • Saturday, Mar. 3rd, 1pm--3pm

I will have sign-up sheets next week so that Jennifer can get a sense of how many students will be attending each workshop. And I will announce the workshop location in class next week. Hopefully, these workshops will teach us a fun and creative skill, which will also prepare us for the service-learning activity at the Logan Center.

By the way, I hope you like the snowman that Jennifer made from plastic bags! :0) M

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Science Alive

I also had a great time on Saturday. Coming away from it, I would argue that it was a HUGE success! First off, I was blown away by how many people were there! Second, having walked around a little bit, I thought the exhibits were great and very diverse, and overall, I was just amazed at how enthusiastic the kids really were about it! I admit, if my mom told me I was going to go to a math and science fair at the library when I was a kid, I probably would NOT be too happy about it. However, my preconceived notions would have been entirely wrong. The kids honestly had an absolute blast and were able to create and participate in hundreds of interactive experiements that were mostly about "real life" scnearios that we often don't take the time to REALLY think about. They were all eager to learn and try new things, and they were sincerely interested in how and why things worked the way they did. I was VERY impressed!

I was also surprised at how enthusiastic, patient, and supportive the parents were...despite the dangerously frigid temperatures, the huge crowds, and screaming children. Furthermore, I couldn't believe how many volunteers there were! I guess the take-home message for me was that science and math, and the effort to make it applicable to every child in a hands-on, practical way, is an issue that THOUSANDS of people are extremely passionate about! Admittedly, I had no idea.

Overall, I really enjoyed myself! I thought it was so refreshing to see SO many people truly enjoying themselves in what I would call an educational setting. I had tons of fun with the kids, and it was also great to be able to hang out with classmates in a place outside of the classroom. I am extremely grateful to Michelle for finding this volunteer opportunity for us, and to the Serenevy's for allowing us to be part of their wonderful exhibit.

That's about all I have to say about that. (Except, I didn't get a cool free pen!) :)

Monday, February 05, 2007

they blinded me with science...

Okay, hint taken. :)

Science alive was good times. Immediatly upon arrival, they tied me and my kind friend Ron in yarn and said "untangle yourselves." Dean tried to give me hints I found completely bewildering, while Tory and Michelle seemed to enjoy my bewildered tangled state. Molly came later andit all came full circle when we tied her up in yarn. What a great day with great friends! The Serenevys are brilliant, and so passionate about math, they really developed some fun activities for us kids, big and small. It was wonderful to see the kids faces light up w/ amazement and understanding. Sometimes I get so apathetic about math, being with those kids has inspired me to find the magic in it. And I got a cool free pen!


Science Alive Event

I was up at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday and I was tired. The library parking was closed and I was mad. It was freezing cold outside and all I could find was parking with about a five minute walk. I walked in and was greeted by Amanda. From there on, the rest of my day was awesome and humorous. Kim and I tried to figure out the puzzle without success. Then I got to watch Melissa and her friend try to figure out the puzzle as well without success. Volunteering at the Science Alive Event was a really good experience. I loved watching the kids, and many parents, attempt the puzzle with so much confidence. They, as we all did, would jump through loops, step over each other, climb over and under. Then within five minutes both kids and parents were clueless and looking for clues. Once we explained the puzzle and helped them solve it they all would be in amazement and awe. Sometimes the parents were more impressed than the kids. I found the time went by incredibly fast because I was having a lot of fun. What I started off as being unsure about and kind of doubting toward, ended up being one of the best ways I could have spent my Saturday morning. I look forward to volunteering again to teach a little and learn even more!

We Have a Tote Bag Instructor!


I have good news to share with you: We have a tote bag instructor! Her name is Jennifer Heimbuch, and she contacted me after she saw the WSBT interview last week. Jenny has been making tote bags and other crafts from plastic bags for two years. And she has generously offered her services to teach us how to make these bags. Woo Hoo!! :0)

Details about Jenny's workshops are forthcoming...stay tuned!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Defining "space" disambiguously.

Participating in one of the exhibits at the Science Alive Event this past Saturday was a great experience and my sincere thanks to Dr. Amanda Serenevy, Director of the River Bend Math Center, for allowing us the opportunity to share a few of the basic concepts of topology with the community. I particularly enjoyed interacting with the children and teenagers; watching their facial expressions change as their interest and understanding of these basic concepts increased. Prior to the exhibit, I myself was not familiar with the theory of topology, but after some quick research, learned that it is a mathematical concept involving geometry and defining space...who knew?!

By using topology puzzles provided by both Dr. Amanda Serenevy and Dr. Dean Serenevy (Mathematician), I was able to help children conceptualize some of the mathematical properties of natural space and the knot theory—and make it fun!! The first time I met Dr. Amanda Serenevy was when she visited our statistics class (on campus) and demonstrated one of her topology puzzles. I was immediately intrigued with her ‘three-dimensional’ approach and wanted to learn more about her program at the River Bend Math Center.

One of my future goals is to evaluate various elements of core curriculum (e.g. Math, Science) within school systems that reflect consistent disparities in students’ academic performance to identify factors contributing to these discrepancies and find solutions that will allow students excel to their highest potentials. I have confidence that by implementing innovative techniques—such as the ones demonstrated by Dr. Serenevy in core subjects will allow educators facilitate a broader spectrum of learning styles within the student population.

Science Alive

I had fun at the Science Alive event, but I must admit that I felt very nervous at first at participating. I'm not somebody with a lot of math confidence, but I think it was great that we had a lot of students from our class participating. It was great getting to know my fellow classmates better too. I hadn't been there more than a few minutes when Amanda had Tori and I all looped together. Try this at your next dinner party. I highly recommend this as a get acquainted activity. (just kidding) I think one of the most important messages is that math can be fun and definitely relates to everyday life. There is math in everything we do. The same is true for statistics. I don't know that I would go so far as to say that statistics is fun, but it definitely relates to everyday life. I also never realized that math can actually produce something as beautiful as the "wreath" (donut or torus) that Amanda Serenevy made out of 2 inch squares of paper. She explained to me that the inside of it was made up of septagons and the outside of pentagons and the rest of it of hexagons, which has to do with the angles that these shapes form that allows you to weave the pieces of paper together. (Amanda, please correct me if I explained that wrong.) Anyway, it was great that so many people came to the event and had fun with our activities. I learned how to fold a jumping frog and went home and impressed my husband with the demonstration of what happens when you cut the two interlocked circles. Thanks to Amanda and Dean Serenevy for providing this opportunity to us.
For some reason, it didn't post both links that I was trying to post so here is the other link.

Superfund sites

I was surprised to learn that Elkhart County is a site that has been designated a superfund site by the EPA. You can go to the EPA website if you want to read more about this.

Fun at Science Alive!

Despite yesterday's cold conditions, many kids attended the Science Alive Festival at the St. Joseph Public Library. And we were there to help support the Riverbend Math Community Center. Hopefully, some of my students will blog about their experience at the festival (hint, hint), but in the meantime, here are some photos taken at the event. Enjoy! :0)

Tori and Amy watch a father attempt the "Typology Tango"

Kim's typology demonstration

Folks having fun while learning math

Having fun while learning math is contagious

(or as one kid said, "kinda freaky")

Amanda explains the "donut" to two young boys

Girls hard at work

Molly's typology demonstration

Nancy's typology demonstration

Amy's typology demonstration

Melissa's typology demonstration

A cute kid

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Plastic Bags

I have been saving plastic bags as much as I possibly can to make this drive a success. Reading about the landfills and how hard the san man work really made me think about how much more we can clean up our trash. We can bag everything so things are not falling out when they dump it. But then we are just wasting more bags aren't we? How do we get around this problem ?


I was very surprised on the first day of stats class- to discover that we would also be learning about garbage! I was also intrigued. I have always wanted to learn about our system of dealing with trash, but I must confess, it was never at the top of my priority list. It seems there must be better ways to deal with our trash. The use of landfills and such do not seem to be working so well for our country.

The information the author disclosed in the last chapter regarding landfills was disheartening. It gave me a small glimpse of the "bigger picture" and how decisions are made regarding our trash. I am looking forward to learning more about our garbage and how we can perhaps affect our own footprint.

An Enlightening Experience

Hey Everybody! I just wanted to share a few personal thoughts on this whole "Conserve Plastic Bags" project. First off, I would like to say that I am very enthusiastic about the coming months, and it's nice to know that other people feel a responsibility for maintaining the integrity of our planet's precious resources. In the past, humans were prone to taking a more reactive approach to the observable changes in the environment, but with the onset of information technologies, we have learned to take more proactive measures to help ameliorate the problems associated with environmental degradation. Simply put, by making better-informed decisions today, we can all contribute to the sustenance of Gaea for years to come!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Ever excited about trash bags? This is the time!!!!!!!

Reading from Garbage Land, I have come to be more attentive to trash and recycling. I have been sensitive to what I have trashed out. I have also been excited as we relate this class with recycling because it makes the class all more fun. I have therefore been keen to keep all my plastic bags in a better position than the creased position than where I had kept them earlier. As I tell more people about our school project, they are excited that someone will be taking care of these so many bags they have kept for so long. The funniest thing about trash bags is that we are always sandwiched between loosing them and keeping them; yet when we keep they pile up so high, we keep them so clustered in dark closets never to fully explain why we keep them or what we gonna do with them yet pushed by guilt to still keep them. I believe that by the end of our project we will instill the community with a new urge of recycling bags for the better than their current dark world.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

No Market?

I was surprised to hear Mark Mehall from Solid Waste Management say there's no market for plastic bags. In short, I disagree. According to Jeff Ashby, Director of Rocky Mountain Recycling, businesses like Wal-Mart make a considerable profit from selling plastic bags. That's particularly the case now that oil prices have increased--why?--well, because plastic bags are made from polyethylene, a form of petroleum (i.e., crude oil). So, five years ago, before oil prices increased, Rocky Mountain Recycling sold 1lb of plastic bags for 3-5 cents. But these days, plastic bags are sold for 15-20 cents per lb. Basically, their profits have tripled in the last five years due to increased oil prices.

Moreover, companies like Trex and AERT purchase these bags to create new products (i.e., lumber), which are then sold to stores like Home Depot. To get a price check on plastic lumber, I called the Home Depot store in Mishawaka. Bob, an employee at Home Depot, quoted the prices on treated pine and composite (i.e., plastic) lumber for comparison. For a 6 in width, 16 ft length of lumber, the pine costs $15.97 and the composite costs $28.97. Notice the composite lumber costs almost twice as much as the treated pine. Bob quickly pointed out another difference: with the composite lumber, there is no maintainance. But with the treated pine, there is--basically, you have to apply a sealant to the pine to protect it against the elements once every 2 years.

So there is a market for plastic bags. Recycling companies get a profit for selling bags to manufacturers; and manufacturers get a profit for selling their products to consumers.

Knowing this information, however, leaves me with yet another puzzle: Why is this information not widely known to the public?