Summer Camp Volunteering- Week 3

The theme for last week’s Howard Count Conservancy’s summer camps was ‘Water Wizards.’ The campers at both Mt. Pleasant and Belmont made terrific water themed Zentangles®! I started out the sessions by briefly talking about the water cycle…how water moves on our planet and in the atmosphere….honed for the 5-12 years old campers. I projected a simple diagram of the water cycle from the NASA website….and then used the same set up to enable the campers to see how I drew some water themed patterns on pale blue cardstock (using the camera on the iPad which was hooked to a projector).


There were three groups at Mt. Pleasant. They all enjoyed frogs eggs and tadpoles, raindrops making ripples in a pond, mist….and clouds. The youngest group made rainbows! I used 4.5-inch squares for the youngest group (last of the group of 3 mosaics below); the other two used 3.5-inch squares.


At Belmont, the session was on a hot afternoon and the campers appreciated the time to cool off inside. I took a picture of the room before the campers arrived – the cool and calm before a flurry of activity.

After a short discussion of the water cycle, the room was filled with very focused campers making Zentangle patterns. One of the counselors came in and commented about how quiet the room was. It wasn’t silent exactly…everyone was just busy. The first mosaic were made by the older group and are 3.5-inch squares…and some that finished early made mini-tiles on 2-inch squares. The younger group used the larger 4.5-inch tiles. Both groups enjoyed frog eggs and tadpoles, cattails (or seaweed), raindrops into a pond, and mist.

Each week I do Zentangles, there are a few campers from prior weeks that know the Zentangle basics…and others that are new. All are keen to learn some patterns and are tickled with the tiles they create. There’s always a crowd around the mosaic at the end.


The Zentangle® Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. It was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. "Zentangle" is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 30, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Spring Outlook: Historic, widespread flooding to continue through May | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Check out the map about 1/3 of the way through the article. It looks like quite a few areas along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are going to have moderate or major flooding through May. Almost the whole eastern part of the US is going to have some flooding during that period.

How Chromosomes X and Y Got Their Names, 1891 | The Scientist Magazine® - A little history. It all begins in the late 1800s.

C. R. PERCIVAL’S MICROSCOPE SLIDE COLLECTION | Ingenium – Browse through some of the images made of slides created in the early/mid 1900s. Click on the larger image to get a magnifier that can be moved over the image.

Food Trends 2019: Fermented Foods, Blueberries, Coconut Products, and More | Berkeley Wellness – How many of these are you already eating?

What oil leaves behind in 2.5 billion gallons of water every day in US -- ScienceDaily – Wouldn’t it be nice to not have oil polluted water injected underground…and sometimes into aquafers? Water is already in short supply in some areas of the country (mostly in the west). We need technologies to never contaminate water in a way that it cannot be consumed by plants and animals…and ourselves.

In Germany, Consumers Embrace a Shift to Home Batteries - Yale E360 – Half of the orders for rooftop solar panels are sold with a battery storage system too in Germany. I wonder when the US will catch up.

Butterfly numbers down by two thirds: High-intensity agriculture reduces number of butterfly species in adjacent areas -- ScienceDaily – It’s not just butterfly numbers that are down either. Agriculture research needs to hone practices that are productive in the short term…and the long term. In other words – all agriculture needs to become sustainable for humanity and the rest of the organisms that inhabit the Earth.

Nitrogen pollution's path to streams weaves through more forests (and faster) than suspected -- ScienceDaily – Nitrate is one of the abiotic tests we do for water quality assessment with high school students. This is a new finding to think about and incorporate in to the analysis of readings after heavy rains. The nitrogen might be moving so fast that the forest can’t absorb it!

Missouri Making Hyperloop Plans - News | Planetizen – A hyperloop between Kansas City and St. Louis! What a boon to the two cities and probably easier to build since there is not the heavy population between the two cities like the route that was originally talked about in California.

China Isn't Recycling Tons of U.S. Plastic Trash Anymore: Goats and Soda: NPR – We’re going to have to show some innovation in dealing with plastics – mostly single use – that we dutifully put in our recycle bins and assumed they would be recycled. Now a lot of them are going to landfills or polluting our waterways.  With a little thought, my family has reduced some….but the next step is tough. Some products we need are only available packaged in plastic.

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 2, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Good News for Eastern Monarch Butterfly Population - The National Wildlife Federation Blog – Now to sustain the improvement into a trend….and stop the decline for the western population.  

Joshua Trees Could Take 200 to 300 Years to Recover from Shutdown Damage | Smart News | Smithsonian – A very sad result of the shutdown.

Physician-targeted marketing is associated with increase in opioid overdose deaths, study shows -- ScienceDaily – Hopefully with the opioid crisis getting more attention…the targeted marketing is reduced or eliminated. The study used data from before 2016. Things have gotten a lot worse since 2016 but maybe there is a lag between prescription opioid use and opioid overdoses.

Rocking Improves Sleep, Boosts Memory | The Scientist Magazine® - A research topic….and maybe a trend in new bed purchases.

America colonization ‘cooled Earth's climate’ - BBC News – More than 50 million people died and close to 56 million hectares (an area the size the France) they had been farming returned to forest. The drop in CO2 is evident in Antarctica ice cores and cooler weather.

The World’s ‘Third Pole’ Will Lose One-Third of Ice by 2100 - Yale E360 – The Himalayas and Hindu Kush mountains are the source of water for nearly 2 billion people. The region has lost 15% of it’s ice since the 1970s. The current estimate is the river flows will increase until 2060 (flooding) but then will decline. There will be more and more bare rock rather than snow covered rock.

Oregon Launches First Statewide Refillable Bottle System in U.S.: The Salt: NPR – It’s starting with beer bottles. Reuse is better than recycle is better than landfill. If given a choice between buying something in glass or plastic…I choose glass.

BBC - Future - The ‘miracle mineral’ the world needs – Phosphorous. Thermic compost piles rather than mineral fertilizers. It’s economical and environmentally a better way.

Top 25 Wild Bird Pictures of the Week – Raptors – As usual – great photographs of birds from around the world.

What happens to the natural world if all the insects disappear? – Big perturbations of food chains. The article ends with a question: If we dispossess them, can we manage the planet without them? It would be a very different planet.

Gleanings of the Week Ending September 8, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: The LBJs and Top 25 Wild Birds Photographs of the Week: The Cranes and Top 25 Wild Birds Photographs of the Week: Birds in Flowers – Birds and more birds…starting the gleanings off with images of fast moving wildlife!

Natural refrigerant replacements could reduce energy costs and conserve the environment: Implementing replacements of CFCs and HCFCs could help UN signatories to uphold international agreements on carbon emissions. -- ScienceDaily – One of the ways new technology could help sustain the planet.

BBC - Future - How to drink from the enormous lakes in the air – I was intrigued by the variety of ways to collect water from the air coming out of labs and into production. Some are for very poor and rural areas…but others might be popular for home owners that currently buy bottled water because they don’t trust their municipal water supply.

Cake Art Features Realistic Flowers Made from Buttercream Frosting – The decadence of it all….I’m not a big cake eater, but if I was this type of cake would be what I wanted for my birthday!

Ancient farmers spared us from glaciers but profoundly changed Earth’s climate -- ScienceDaily – The advent of farming altered the climate enough to avoid the beginning of an ice age as the Industrial Revolution when the burning of fossil fuels caused the further uptick we are today.  A quote from the article: “we have maybe stopped the major cycle of Earth’s climate and we are stuck in a warmer and warmer and warmer interglacial.”

Two studies that suggest that some common medical practices may not be as worthwhile as previously thought: Widespread use of statins in healthy older people to prevent heart disease not recommended in new study: Any protective effect was limited to those with type 2 diabetes aged between 75 and 84 -- ScienceDaily and Experts advise against routine testing for prostate cancer: But for those men who seek counsel from their physicians, shared decision making is essential -- ScienceDaily

Photo of the Week – September 6 | The Prairie Ecologist – The August installment of the author’s square meter photography project. The two praying mantis shots (Aargh…non-natives European and Asian).

BBC - Future - Five memory hacks to make you smarter – A post well-timed for the start of school!

Roman Basin Recovered from Germanic Grave in Holland - Archaeology Magazine – It is made of bronze and was found in pieces that were put back together. It’s an appealing shape…which the article would have given more information about its size.

Today’s College Students Aren’t Who You Think They Are: NPR – It’s good to see this. I’ve been hearing anecdotal reports from my daughter about college students at the universities where she has been/is. It’s good to see that her observations are wide-spread…that it’s the ‘new normal’ and services provided by institutes need to evolve to support these students.

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 2, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Critically endangered South American forests were planted by ancient peoples -- ScienceDaily – Forests of monkey puzzle trees were cultivated for their nuts and ability to attract game….they expanded as the population grew between 1,410 and 900 years ago. That was after an earlier expansion of the tree’s range caused by wetter climate from 4,480 and 3,200 years ago.

New Wind Farm Activity In Missouri Shows How States Can Leapfrog Over Natural Gas | CleanTechnica and Offshore wind energy is finally taking off in the US - Vox – Hurry for progress toward more sustainable energy!

Rising emissions of ozone-destroying chemical banned by Montreal Protocol -- ScienceDaily – New and unreported production likely in eastern Asia. Hopefully it will be stopped quickly and we can continue our progress in stabilizing and reducing the ozone-depleting gases in our upper atmosphere.

Top 25 Marine Birdlife – National Geographic Blog – I always enjoy bird pictures.

NASA Study Says Freshwater Shortages Will Be Biggest Challenge of This Century | CleanTechnica – As population increases along with industrialization and farming….more fresh water will be needed. We cannot afford to damage the supply beyond recover or use it unwisely.

Most popular vitamin and mineral supplements provide no health benefit, study finds -- ScienceDaily – Lots of studies say that food is the best way to get vitamins and minerals….this one goes a step further. It found that the supplements provide no health benefit!

Mapping America’s Aging Population - CityLab – The maps made this article for me: showing where Americans over 70 live (5% of the population in the county where I live now) and the death and birth in the use that categories whether population is naturally decreased on increasing by county (it naturally increasing where I live now).

Urban Plant Diversity – Cool Green Science – The theme of this article is to plant native species…less expensive, require less maintenance, and harbor greater diversity overall.

Social pursuits linked with increased life satisfaction -- ScienceDaily – This result seemed intuitive to me. As we get older and don’t have the level of social contacts we had during our career years, choosing activities that provide social interaction have to be done more consciously.

The State(s) Of Distributed Solar -- 2017 Update | CleanTechnica – Hopefully more states (utilities within the states) will jump on the bandwagon. There is quite an uptick since 2015 so the trend is in the right direction.

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 31, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

 4 Psychology Lessons That Can Teach Us About Inspiring Climate Action | CleanTechnica – Good ideas – particularly if anticipating a lot of disagreement or people being too depressed about the prospect of the future for Earth to take action.

Top 25 Wild Raptors – National Geographic – From around the world…no bald eagle in this group of photos.

After 250 Years of Dams, Rhode Island River Restored for Migratory Fish – Cool Green Science – Maryland is also removing dams. Bloede’s Dam (see blog post about it here)

Hummingbirds Make an Incredible Journey North – Cool Green Science – This little birds make a very long journey. Hope our recent cold weather has not made is a problematic year for them.

Saving Terrapins From Drowning in Crab Traps – Cool Green Science – Hopefully this can be a success story for terrapins around Long Island…time will tell.

Elusive Deep-Sea Anglerfish Seen Mating for the First Time | Smart News | Smithsonian – I’d only see pictures of dead specimens or drawings. The 2.5 minute video shows a living fish moving slowly through the water with filaments that glow surrounding it. Still very fierce looking but also a slow moving graceful beauty.

Drug-related mortality rates are not randomly distributed across the US -- ScienceDaily – The map says it all. The hotspots for drug-related deaths in the US are not necessarily where historically high drug use happened.

The 20 most beautiful libraries in the U.S. - Curbed – I’ve only been in one of these: the reading room of the Legal Research Library at the University of Michigan; it was part of the campus tour when my daughter visited the university before she added it to her short list that she would apply to for her undergraduate studies. I remember it being very quiet even though people were walking around – cork floors are quiet floors!

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Much Larger and Chunkier Than We Thought | Smart News | Smithsonian – Ugh! It was bad even before the more precise measurements came in. There has to be a way to start cleaning it up and keeping more garbage from getting into the ocean.

Landscape Photography Series Tells “Winter’s Tale” of Snowy Forests – Hopefully we’ve had our last bought with snowy weather here in Maryland. I do enjoy the snowy forests…for a little while.

HoLLIE – week 3

The Week 3 of  HoLLIE (Howard County Legacy Leadership for the Environment) class day was last week and it was held at NASA Goddard like the second week. The theme for the day was continued from last week: “what informed citizens need to know about earth systems science.”

The first talk of the day as about ice sheets and included a discussion of the speakers trek to the South Pole last year. Check out her ICESat-2 Antarctic Traverse Blog (The first post is from December 4, 2017. If you want to start with that one and read in chronological order, scroll down to the bottom of this page until you get to ‘Heading South, to New Zealand and Beyond.’ Then after reading the ‘South Pole Station: The Last Stop Before the Traverse’ beginning at the top of the page, click on ‘newer entries’ to read the rest of the of the posts – and again start with the post at the bottom of the page and work up). She spent Christmas at the South Pole!

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She recommended a book that I found could be checked out from Internet Archive when I got home: The two-mile time machine by Richard B. Alley. The book is about the annual rings of ice from cores drilled in Greenland and what they tell us about Earth’s climate over time.

The second talk was about the Land-Based Hydrology Cycle. This talk included what we can learn from satellites but also what measurements are taken on land too (and how much effort that takes…to get even sporadic data). With fresh water being so key to life – the very highs (floods) and very lows (droughts) are major impact all around the world.

The third talk was about the Black Marble project…about what we can learn from looking at the earth at night. Back in April there was good summation of the project – to create the images more frequently so that they could be used more even more applications (like short-term weather forecasting and disaster response): New Night Lights Maps Open Up Possible Real-Time Applications -; take a look at the map of India midway through the article and slide the vertical bar to the see how the northern part of the country was electrified between 2012 and 2016. There is more at

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The fourth talk was about how the Montreal Protocol saved the earth’s ozone layer. I knew the protocol concerned Ozone and CFCs….but didn’t realize any more history than that. The timing of a report that linked CFCs to ozone depletion just before the ‘hole’ was discovered in the ozone layer (a major change from measures of ozone for many years beforehand) over Antarctica made for a dramatic beginning to the conversation. It has been effective because governments engaged industry that provided substitutes (some transitional) that made it possible to move away from compounds that were ozone damaging in the stratosphere.

Next we visited NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio – seeing some of their recent work on a wall sized screen. Here are some web versions of what we saw in the studio:

NASA's Near-Earth Science Mission Fleet: March 2017

Global Temperature Anomalies from 1880 to 2017

Weekly Animation of Arctic Sea Ice Age with Two Graphs: 1984 - 2016

Previous HoLLIE posts: Week 1, Week 2

Maryland Water Monitoring Council 23rd Annual Conference

Last Friday, I attended Maryland Water Monitoring Council conference. The theme was “Managing Water Quality in a Changing World.” This was the 23rd conference held by the council…but the first one for me. I’d signed up as soon as I found out about it – months ago – and looked at the agenda ahead of time. The agenda was packed with interesting topics from 8:30 -4:30. Except for the two keynote talks there were 7 concurrent talks for the rest of the day plus poster presentations and vendor booths. Based on my experience with the symposium I went to back in October about the War of 1812, I hoped that I would make it through the whole day.

It turned out to be an invigorating day all the way through to the last talk! It helped that the food was fabulous and easily available, the chairs were comfortable, and the venue was large enough to provide easy transitions between sessions for the 600 attendees. Those things provided the infrastructure for the high-quality talks.

I’d printed off the agenda before the conference and highlighted the ones I thought I would be most interested in attending. Of the 12 talks I’d selected, only 1 did not live up to my expectations. At the end of the day I was very glad that I’d attended and plan to go again next year.