Foiling Foreign Foliage: Invasive Plant Atlas

Invasive Plant Atlas

The invaders are here. Actually, they’ve been here. Not only that, they’ve put down roots. The University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health (a collaborative project with the Plant Conservation Alliance‘s Alien Plant Working Group, the folks behind Weeds Gone Wild) maintains a database of information about the perniciously pesky plants that invade natural areas in the U.S. The database, known as the Invasive Plant Atlas, contains a wealth of useful information for students interested in ecology and the effects of organisms that end up where they shouldn’t be.

A Little Bird Told Me: Citizen Science With the GBBC

One of the most effective ways to encourage students to learn about science is to help them do science. Learning facts is helpful but there’s much, much more to science. Doing science means actively asking questions, making guesses, questioning assumptions, collecting and analyzing information. Go well beyond the confines of a textbook. Guide learners in doing the actual work of a scientist.

Show students how to find and join a network of volunteers. Like our learners, volunteer scientists have very little (or no) specific scientific training. Despite deficits in factual information, novice researchers can perform and manage extremely important research-related tasks such as observation, measurement or computation.

For example, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology follows an excellent collection of projects that need volunteers. CLO’s site, dubbed Citizen Science, tracks projects that encourage and allow young researchers to do the work of scientists. Such projects create powerful relationships between the general public and professional scientists, resulting in some of the world’s largest research teams. The projects highlighted at CLO make it possible for students and concerned citizens to contribute valuable information to ongoing, worldwide studies.

A great citizen science project to involve students in is the Great Backyard Bird Count. The GBBC gets underway beginning February 17th and lasts until the 20th. It’s an event that encourages bird watchers of all ages to count birds. The simple act of observation (an important skill for any scientist!) creates a real-time snapshot of where birds are across our continent. Participating in this event takes as little as 15 minutes on one day. If students get excited with the process, they are welcome to count for as long as they like each day of the event.


Ice Follies: The South Georgia Freeze

My mailbox, covered in ice from the ice stormWell, thanks to yesterday’s meteorological mayhem–very low temperatures, precipitation coating weak pine limbs and ice! ice! ice!–I didn’t get to post.

I live in Statesboro, Georgia, a location that rarely gets snow or ice. I’m thankful for that. Although my city isn’t experiencing weather-related upheavals like other, far colder places around the country, what my city did endure on Monday was rather unpleasant. Pine trees laden with ice began sloughing off their weakest branches. Amid cracking sounds that were similar to gunfire noise, limbs fell from tall trees damaging house. Our house lost a window to one of the plummeting pine bombs and our wood fence was smashed in a couple of places.

All in all, though, it was remarkably tolerable.

Sure, I’ll be cleaning up pine limbs for weeks; however, doing that beats dealing with week-long power outages, months of shoveling snow, and permafrost.

Related Links:

A Thirst for Understanding: Waterfootprint.Org

Image of a footprintThis year I am trying to be more cognizant of my impact on the planet. I want the world to be a beautiful, clean, and sustainable place for my daughter’s generation and those who will follow. An important part of maintaining life on our world is drinkable water. It’s more scarce than many imagine. Don’t believe me? Step over to and see for yourself.

Colorful Experiences

Well, well, well. I’m two weeks into the new year and completely inundated. I promised myself that I’d post faithfully each day. The only thing I can say in my defense is that I’ve been busy working with Flash.

I find it maddeningly frustrating and supremely useful.

I will adapt.

In the meantime, if you’re working with Flash, too and looking for a handy tool for picking out color schemes, check out ColoRotate.

colorotateThis has become one of my favorite resources for assembling new chromatic styles. Be warned, though. You can spend hours being dazzled by all of the variety.

Happy GNU Year!


Welcome to 2010!

Up until now I’ve been so wrapped up in my new job that I’ve been too busy to post much of anything else. I have to prove my mettle and it has taken a great deal of my time. That said, I haven’t given up blogging. In fact, one of my resolutions for this year is to get back in the habit of blogging something each day. I know, from experience, that the process of searching and sharing helps me keep my mental toolbox of ideas well-stocked and ready for action.

To kick off the process, I’m going to suggest that all of my friends resolve to learn about, support, and use GNU resources when possible. By supporting GNU, we foster an intellectual environment that recognizes the importance of the freedom to

  • run a program, for any purpose
  • study how a program works, and adapt it to one’s needs
  • redistribute copies of a program so as to help others and
  • improve a program, and release improvements to the public, so that everyone benefits.

Note that I am NOT advocating the practice of pirating software. I am, however, suggesting that everyone use already existing, great, FREE software like that available on the GNU site.

Have a great year!