Outdoor Club: Castelos dos Mouros

Sintra is full of amazing sites and one of the goals of Outdoor Club this year is to get students, staff, and parents out to as many of these as possible. On Saturday we hiked up to Castelos dos Mouros on a stunningly beautiful day. How lucky we are to live here with places like this in our back yard!

Just chillin'...in a 9th century Moorish castle!

Just chillin’…in a 9th century Moorish castle!

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Happy Birthday to Me!

Needless to say, this made my day…IMG_2800

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Mountain Bike Club

Last year I had a great crew of mountain bikers–we went out with around 2-6 boys every Friday afternoon.


And then this year this happened: 24 kids joined (not all pictured here), almost half of them GIRLS!!! Yay!IMG_6655

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Happy New Year!

New school year, that is. For me this new school year means new country, new home, new school, new students, and new colleagues, as over the summer I moved from the frenetic city of Hong Kong to the quiet countryside just north of Lisbon, Portugal. This is my third international teaching gig and so far I am loving it here.

I created this short video about my summer to show my students on our first day together. I find that when I open up to them about who I am, I make myself more accessible to them. Being the Science teacher that I am I had them make inferences about me based on what they saw in the video. They all got that I love to teach!

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Back to the Start

I tried to reblog the post from Soulsby Farm, where I originally saw this, but the video didn’t show up. So here you have it. Great ideas, great music, and it’s an ad!

According to YouTube:
The film, by film-maker Johnny Kelly, depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. Both the film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system.

Exactly the ideas I am trying to promote in my classroom, through the garden, by example. Not that easy to do in Hong Kong, but our teeny little garden balcony is a start.

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Very nice- thanks for sharing!

Two Barn Farm

I’m not one to post back-to-back entries, I’m usually good for one a week but if you didn’t see the new ad for Chiptotle, take a couple of minutes and watch it. This is Chipotle’s first tv ad and wow! They nailed it, amazing. Smart campaign to target a “Back to Basics” farming approach in this short animated commercial featuring Willie Nelson covering Coldplay…


It reminds me of Pixar’s “Up” when they were able to convey so much emotion in the first ten minutes (when she was unable to have children) completely through nonverbal means. I’m not saying go to Chipotle’s (owned by McDonald’s) but I am saying what they made here is gold and will hopefully force change in the industrial agricultural factory farming community.

Baby steps, right?

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Composting: It’s for the Birds.

I’ll end the series of compost posts with the story of an Australian bird that composts:

“In Australia, there is a bird called the Brush-turkey (Alectura lathami) that builds compost piles to incubate the eggs so that they won’t have to sit on them! They build mounds of decomposing vegetation, and the heat produced by the microbial decay maintains the eggs at about 33°C (92°F), 15°C warmer than the ambient air temperature. Because each nest generates more than 20 times the heat production of a resting adult Brush-turkey, many more eggs can be incubated this way than if they relied on warmth from the parent birds. Initially the adult birds tend the composting nest, occasionally mixing and either adding or removing vegetation as needed to regulate the temperature, which they sense through their bills. After this initial adjustment, the nests require little attention, and larger ones can stay warm for several weeks without tending.”
(From Nancy Trautmann’s article on the Cornell Composting site)

Image from David Cook Wildlife Photography (kookr)

“A brush-turkey will take a large mouthful of the mound to check whether it’s at the right temperature. They have highly accurate heat sensors inside their upper bill. When the temperature is too high, the male will rake material off the top layer to allow heat to escape. If the temperature is too low, the male will heap more material onto the mound to build its insulation.”
(From The Queensland Government’s Australian Brush Turkey Article)

Cool, right?!

For more on the Australian Brush Turkey, check out this link.

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