Inquiry, Divergent Thinking, and Indigenous Knowing

by Wendy Warren

In the formal classrooms of the 21st Century, children rarely have the opportunity to explore the natural world, and they rarely have the opportunity to let their curiosity guide their explorations. This time when we are all asked to be healthy at home seems a perfect opportunity to rekindle the spark of curiosity and a sense of wonder about the world. I see adults posting on social media things they have never before noticed about the world around them, but in this time of slowing down, they have once again begun to notice.

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Telling Time with the Stars

by Jeff Hutton

Did you know that hundreds of years ago there were no clocks? Just like now, there were people who were clever and they realized that the sun, moon and stars always rose in the east, traveled across the sky and set in the west. They also knew that certain stars were up at night only at certain times of the year and that the stars that were close to the sky’s north pole, near the star called Polaris, never set. These stars just went round and round Polaris like a big
wheel.
Just like now, it was important to know what time of the year it was so they knew when to
celebrate religious holidays and for farmers to know when to plant their crops. Would you like to be able to tell time without a clock, your watch or a smart phone? The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (astrosociety.org) provided the diagram below. Follow the instructions and you can tell “star time”.

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Fostering Divergent Thinking

by Wendy Warren

Here’s a simple game to play with your family. Choose any object around your house— the simpler, the better. Perhaps you pick up an ink pen. Each of you take a turn sharing whatever you can imagine that object could be used for. You can imagine it far larger than it actually is, or far smaller, or just the same size. For example, pens have long been used as paper shooters—but what about as straws? Or maybe it could be a bridge for ants. Or a baton for someone leading a parade. Or if it was much larger, perhaps it could be a water pipe. You get the idea…Keep going until you absolutely run out of ideas and then pick another simple object, say…a paper clip, then start again.

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Why Inquiry-Based Learning?

by Wendy Warren

What questions did your family ask last week, as you went out and explored the natural world? How did you go about finding answers—and then going even deeper into the topic? As last week’s blog post shared, following your natural curiosity leads to some of the most authentic learning there is. Sometimes it takes a spark to rekindle curiosity that lives right at the surface of most children, but sometimes gets buried deep inside later in life.

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Eco-brick Drop-in Workshop

Written by Julia Roberts, ’20
Ecobricks that Lucas assembled onto a wire frame to use as part of the compost bin he is making.

This past MLK Day, the Forestry Outreach Center hosted an Eco-Brick building workshop for community members and college students alike to attend. Led by one of the Center’s labor students, Lucas Collett, the workshop educated its participants on how to make Eco-bricks as well as their environmental relevance.

But, before we get ahead of ourselves…

 

What are Ecobricks?

 

Eco-Bricks, according to the Global Eco-Brick Alliance, are, essentially, building blocks made of plastic bottles which are packed with used, clean and dry plastic. The packing can be any form of soft plastic, broken-down hard plastics, and un-recyclable products, such as styrofoam or wire. Once packed, the bricks can be used in practically any form of construction: from a compost bin (such as the one Lucas is constructing for the Center) to a full-scale building! 

For more information on Eco-Bricks, check out the Global Ecobrick Alliance website here.

An example of ecobrick construction

About the Event:

Over 30 people from all corners of Madison County and Kentucky attended our Eco-Brick Drop-in Workshop. Whether you came to represent a local organization interested in using Eco-bricks or simply wanted to spend a fun afternoon with friends, all who participated had the opportunity to learn about the uses of and create their own Eco-bricks.

“I think the event went very, very well, better than I had hoped. So many people from the community, both Berea and elsewhere, came and stayed and seemed super interested. There were people of all age groups, just in groups…talking. I think that part of what makes eco-bricking so special, [is] it’s so accessible to all age groups and is a great community builder. Making the bricks is very chill and it encourages conversation.” – Lucas

Lucas talking about how to make ecobricks
The 60 bottles brought to or made at the workshop!

Why it’s important/what you can do:

Though you might not be constructing any full-scale buildings anytime soon, eco-bricks are still an extremely versatile building material! Further, as you begin to fill your bricks, you might have a better idea about your personal plastic consumption. Eco-bricks are a simple format to contain and productively reuse our plastic waste, and anyone and everyone can participate in this movement and help build awareness regarding individual plastic use!

“I think the best thing people could do to help the eco-brick movement is [to] make their own creations. Be it some small planters for a garden in their yard or large creations, anything visible will help. Additionally, being more conscientious about plastic and consumer usage.” – Lucas

Keep up with the Center on Facebook and Instagram to see when Lucas completes his compost bin!

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The Berea College Trace

by Chase Denny

The recently created Berea College Trace is self-described as the “thread that weaves together our history and our future.”

This thread is one that not only includes places to shop around, eat some wonderful food, and stay overnight in exquisite lodging, but it also includes various educational and recreational opportunities that are offered by the College. Read more “The Berea College Trace”