News from the Etkin 
Environmental Center


Welcome to the May edition of Down-to-Earth.  This newsletter has been written by Maplebrook School environmental science students and is designed to give you information about happenings at the Etkin Environmental Center located on the campus of the Institute for Collegiate and Career Studies.  Allow our students to help you promote a greener lifestyle.
Weather Station Brings an Opportunity

The Etkin Environmental Center acquired it's own weather station this past January.  Since then, a relationship with our local public radio station, Robinhood Radio out of Sharon, CT has been forged where students report the daily weather using the information they collect from our station.  It has been a good lesson in learning weather patterns, weather terminology and public speaking.  Here is an example:   Weather Report
Gardening at the Etkin Environmental Center 
by Cameron Etkin

In the beginning, the Etkin Environmental Center classes learned about gardening. There are many benefits of gardening such as learning different perspectives on growing food and a new way of thinking about the earth. Gardening is the  activity of tending and cultivating crops and vegetables. In the class, we were able to begin the gardening process by germinating seeds and nurturing them until they were ready to plant. As time progressed, students observed the marigold seeds turning into seedlings and then into flowers.  Marigolds are important to gardens because they help keep pests away from the fruits and vegetables.  Through the gardening process, students learned how to plan a garden considering a certain size, location, types of soil, what the plant needs, and the benefits you can get once fully grown. One of the most important things learned was how gardening helps the Earth.  Man has done much to harm the earth and it's important to remember that the earth is not limitless to our doings; we need to help it out. We planted flowers and vegetables and you can contribute, too by planting your own garden.  The outdoor classroom is an ideal learning environment while enjoying the beauty of Mother Nature.  Environmental Science students are lucky to have gained extraordinary skills about gardening and other things in our environment.
Reduce Reuse Recycle
by Kate Neely

Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling or the three Rs, are critical to saving our earth.  There are many important reasons to follow the three Rs.   Recycling is breaking down products into raw materials to make something new. When humans use and throw away disposable items, it costs a great deal of money. For example, disposable razors are approximately five dollars, so when you throw away that razor you are throwing away five dollars each month. Imagine how much we could save if we recycle.

There are many benefits to reducing and reusing. Reducing is to stop waste before it happens and reusing is to use things  more than once. Reducing and reusing decreases the amount of waste that will be sent to landfills. It also saves a lot of money as well as helps conserve energy. There are many ways to reduce and reuse, some ideas include buying used items such as clothes and building materials. Buying products that use less packaging is a great way to reduce extra materials that may take a long time to break down and to save money. For students that bring their lunch to school, it is a good idea to package it in a reusable container instead of a disposable one. Other ways to reuse are to donate your old computers to schools or before you buy all new furniture, could you re-purpose them with a coat of paint to get a whole new look?   When you are  f inished  using a water bottle, you can continue to reuse it over again by washing it out and refilling it. 
These are just a few examples of why it is very important to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  Together, with some effort, we can cut down on the amount of waste that we discard by taking steps to reduce how much garbage each of us generates, reusing products whenever possible, and recycling as  much of the rest as we can.

The Importance of Composting Properly
by Jackie Prehart

Composting is not only environmentally friendly, but it is an efficient way to reuse waste.  In January, the school decided to develop a composting plan and from the beginning, we have collected many types of composts throughout campus, including from the school's main dining hall.  Compost can consist of a variety of items. From food scraps like fruits and vegetables to dried leaves from our own campus trees, and paper; all of these things have been used as compost.  You can compost easily at home. Any of your leftover food scraps and supplies could be put to good use. It is better than throwing them away and accumulating in the landfills. This is the purpose  of composting and it's important to give something back to the earth.  

Composting minimizes the amount of methane gas in the atmosphere which is 72 times more harmful than CO 2 . We all know that the ozone layer is the Earth's blanket,
but because of the greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane the ozone layer gets thinner and thinner over time.

 Composting is definitely one of the biggest ways of helping Mother Nature. We can become wiser about how we use our food and other materials. It is a tough job, but enjoyable because it feels good knowing we are caring and helping the earth. Today is the best time to start, it's never too late.
Environmental Science Students Celebrate Earth Week
by Jessica Lerman

Earth Day is an annual event that is meant to bring awareness to saving the earth. This year, those of us in the Environmental Science program decided to dedicate the entire week to spread environmental awareness throughout the school. During earth week we were broken up into four teams. They were earth, wind, fire and water. We had to wear our team color and participate in daily challenges. The green team was Earth, the white team was wind, the red team was fire, and the blue team was water. Some of the challenges were: composting and spreading mulch, conserving water, picking up litter and planting flowers. At the end of each day we had a scavenger hunt, following clues to gather words toward an environmental phrase.  The week was fun and informative for everyone. On Friday, actual Earth Day, the entire school celebrated by holding classes outside, conserving water and electricity and unplugging all electronics for the whole day.  At the end of the week, the green (earth) team won. Earth Week taught everyone (young or old) how to take better care of the environment and that with a little effort, we can live conserve while having fun.
We cordially invite you to come visit us at the Etkin Environmental Center.  Allow us to take you on a tour of the hiking trails, introduce you the resident wildlife and show you all the wonderful things happening to help the environment.

For more information, visit our web page at:!etkin-environmental-center/ucnv6