Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Have the Benefits of Technology Made Us Happier?

Civilization and its Discontents (1929) Sigmund Freud reading:

Is technology even worth it?... considering the impacts on our happiness?

Class Discussion:According to Freud, human power over nature, subjugation of the forces of nature "has NOT increased the amount of pleasurable satisfaction which they may expect fro life and has not made them feel happier."

Do you agree that technology is allowing for incredible overcrowding of our planet?

Are we messing with natural selection? Is this a scary eugenics kind of argument?
Does technology always help the sick? Are we equipped to make ethical decisions?
Have societal ethics shifted? What is unnatural?

Group Time for collaboration on Community Proposals.

1/2 class tour of Physical Plant: Steve Linke and Jon Ackerman from PPS gave us a tour of the NT roof; we viewed the solar photovoltaic panels. He explained how the HVAC system works at New Trier and toured us through the boiler room; Linke also explained how future plans for heating/cooling will happen with future renovations of the physical plant.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

NT Community Footprint Proposal

Five Community Proposals will be made based on combining individual efforts with research:

1) Food/eating/drinking
2) Energy
3) Outside the building
4) Technology
5) Student Life

Students will be assessed on the following aspects of their footprint proposal, all due on Wednesday, January 13:
1. Statement of Philosophy. Why should this be done? What responsibility do we have in this area? Create a thorough, polished piece of writing, of about 250 words. Include citations and quotations from authors, thinkers, and historical figures from class material.
2. Community Footprint/Proposal/Manifesto /Blueprint for a Better World (you need to come up with the title): What should be done? What is feasible? What is necessary? What can be done immediately? What should long-range goals be? Once again, this should be formal , polished writing, but might include non-essay elements like bullet points and lists.
3. Supporting Data. Use the best work and scientific research that groups completed on Step 1 (each proposal group will have access to all IGSS data, and may of course, find new data) to support your proposal. Present your data in the most powerful fashion possible, and be sure to credit all sources.
4. Suggested Audience(s). Research who and what needs to receive your work. Develop a plan for spreading the word that might include media outlets, New Trier committees, or larger groups.

Steve Linke and Jon Ackerman from PPS gave us a tour of the NT roof; we viewed the solar photovoltaic panels. He explained how the HVAC system works at New Trier and toured us through the boiler room; Linke also explained how future plans for heating/cooling will happen with future renovations of the physical plant.

Student Research time/collaboration. Science Lab Time.

Value Statements: Defending our ideas
To what extent do you agree/disagree:

"We should always keep the future and the environment in mind in every single choice we make. Even if extreme measures are necessary, it is our obligation to care for future generations and for others who need access to resources."

"Climate change is part of life on Earth. Humans are as natural as anything else, and our effect on the environment is just part of global history."

"Limiting growth and production has too many negative consequences. It's not worth it to hurt people for polar bears."

Monday, December 14, 2009

What is our Footprint? What should we do about it?

Footprint Unit:
Friday --continuation of data collection by individual and partner groups.

Speaker: Art Gressel: Carbon Trading member of the Chicago Climate Exchange
Lecture on "What is cap-and-trade"?

Monday -- compilation of research and survey data due today.

Speakers on Monday: Dr. Dohrer, principal New Trier High School & part of facilities steering committee at New Trier
goal: radically change the physical plant at New Trier

Jerry Johnson & Christopher Hale - Perkins & Will architects Schematic Presentation of proposed renovations which will happen if referendum is passed on February 2nd.

Read New Trier Facilities Initiative to get facts and outcomes:

* High quality, state-of-the-art facilities will more effectively support our first-class academic and extracurricular programs.
* Classrooms for Science, Math, English, Social Studies and Modern/Classical Languages will be modernized and increased in number.
* Academic and teaching environments will be improved significantly with appropriate technology and modern equipment.
* Planned construction will result in more efficient, cost-effective buildings instead of investing millions of dollars in renovations and upkeep.
* Replacement of buildings from 1912, 1925, 1928, 1931 and 1950 will result in safer, more efficient buildings.
* New construction will meet standards for designation as a “green building,” with a cost-efficient and sustainable design.
* Accessibility issues will be resolved.
* Technology integration and implementation of contemporary heating, cooling, and fire suppression systems will be easier to accomplish.
* Modernized facilities will more easily respond and adapt to changes in curriculum, instruction and technology for the next century of our existence.

See also FAQs related to the new facility plans.

LEED Certified building planned:
getting rid of old steam boiler system; new high efficiency modern boiler. Energy efficiency is the goal. Looking at solar energy with photovoltaic. Green roofs proposed. Not sure about level of certification.
Green certified; also LEED Silver; LEED Gold; LEED Platinum --these options explained.
Looking at grants for school construction.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Emerson Readings - related discussions

Nature Essay:
radical in what it is proposing!
"So shall we come to look at the world with new eyes. It shall answer the endless inquiry of the intellect, -- What is truth? and of the affections, -- What is good? by yielding itself passive to the educated Will. Then shall come to pass what my poet said; "Nature is not fixed but fluid. Spirit alters, moulds, makes it. The immobility or bruteness of nature, is the absence of spirit; to pure spirit, it is fluid, it is volatile, it is obedient. Every spirit builds itself a house; and beyond its house a world; and beyond its world, a heaven."

Emerson reading synthesized:

The world you occupy is the world you make.
The more seriously you take this, the more beautiful your world becomes.

Do thoughts create our reality? Consciousness is part of the fabric of everything.

How does our spiritual path affect the water in our bodies?

How pliable is our our world? To what extent do we create/alter our own reality?

Philosophers with related ideas---

Music Video -You Do it To Yourself

Lao Tzu:
"He who knows how to live can move
Without fear of tiger or rhinoceros.
In battle no weapon will touch him.
In him the rhinoceros can find
Nowhere to drive its horn,
The tiger finds nowhere to put its claws,
Weapons find nowhere to thrust their blades.
Why is this so?
Because he has passed beyond the region of death."

Video: interview with Masaru Emoto,who has gained worldwide acclaim through his groundbreaking research and discovery that water is deeply connected to our individual and collective consciousness. Dr. Emoto explains how water's structure can reflect our consciousness and change our life.

Footprint Project work continues.
Science Lab - presentation of footprint data.

Read cap and trade articles for tomorrow's speaker: Carbon Trading.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Speaker Today!

Brooks Scott, regional manager of Patagonia gave a thoughtful presentation on the footprint of its products.

Their philosophy is: A belief in "in using business to inspire solutions to the environmental crisis".

Patagonia is committed to making quality products with processes that cause the least harm to the environment. They evaluate raw materials, invest in innovative technologies, rigorously police their waste and use a portion of our sales to support groups working to make a real difference. Those who work there share a strong commitment to protecting undomesticated lands and waters.

Read more at The Footprint Chronicles!

Day 3 of Research continues on footprint project.

topics include:

Nik and Claire ---gym towels
Katie and Anna ---transportation to school
Spencer and Ryan -meat at NT
Danielle and Jess-paper towel
Emily & Christian-salt and plowing
John and Josh ----water on sports fields
Leslie and Liza-- paper bags use in the cafeteria
Rachel and Bella- water bottles
Jesse and Jeremy- plastic water bottles
Annie and Josie-- light bulbs
Hanna and Alex -- lighting/electricity
Ali ---carbon footprint of transporting food to NT
Corey and Elle ---construction project at NT
James and Patrick-fertilizer and lawn care at NT
Dylan and Alex L.- computers and electricity
Claire H. --energy efficient or hybrid cars
Gabby --computers and electricity
Ellen --NT fields and their impact
Joe --use of textbooks at NT

Student initiated project: Completion of service project-- students bought supplies to pack hundreds of sack lunches to donate to Niles Township Food Pantry. On an assembly line students made sandwiches, added chips/pretzels and fruit chewies during the break time.

Town Hall Meeting to prioritize ideas for future fundraising.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Emerson and more.....

Session I:
Look back over the Emerson essay and your five auto-dialectic journals.

(1) Meditate on any of these questions:

What was the main message you got from Emerson? Was there a pattern in your responses to him? What was it? What sorts of things did you learn from your auto-dialectic process? Do you see the world differently now? Was there anything from our class discussions that stayed with you? What was it? Is there something that “clicked” and you’ll now remember something from either Emerson or your journal as a kind of mantra?
Write about what you learned both specifically and in general.

(2) Transmute it into some kind of art. What kind of art? Well, I’d say, “play to your strength,” but anything, really… write a poem, draw or paint a picture, make a collage, write and record a song, make a video, perform a dance…

(3) Compose an artist's statement about your work.

(4) Make sure all 5 auto-dialectic journals are complete: see BlackBoard example for expectations.

(5) Complete assignment due December 16th.

Session II: Lecture-- Global Warming
How Did Humans First Alter Global Climate?

Student activity: Come up with different theories based on your understanding of climate change.
Reading from Scientific American (2005).
Fire "invented"
Farming - 8,000 - 10,000 b.c.e.
Industrial Revolution
Columbian Exchange
Shift in population growth
Private wealth
Massive scale irrigation

Lecture on History of Farming.

Move from subsistence farming to large scale farming: (due to population growth)
early techniques: slash & burn; fallow farming; paddy irrigation

What is the difference between "cultivation" and "domestication"?

Increased population = increased demand
Corporate farming
Genetic engineering
Dominance of high-yeild crops --corn & soy
21st Century backlash

Session III: Research Projects
- see Library resources

Green Cup Challenge

Green Cup Challenge
January 26 to February 22, 2010

"Created by schools for schools, this first and only student-driven, inter-school energy challenge invites all schools – public and private, boarding and day - to measure and reduce campus electricity use and related GHG emissions, while supporting campus greening efforts including recycling and water conservation.

The GCC empowers students, raises awareness about climate change and conservation, and builds community. It educates the community about the importance of resource conservation, and encourages the participation of the entire campus. In 2009, 120 schools in 24 states reduced their aggregated carbon emissions by 2.5 million pounds, the equivalent of taking 220 cars off the road for one whole year."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Check this out!

The EnviroLink Network rates Chicago as #3 in a list of America's most toxic cities.

What is puzzling is how our air quality remains high relative to the number of facilities releasing toxic chemicals and the number of pounds of toxic chemicals released.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Does Mr. Markham exist?

Students give arguments for the existence of Markham, based on their reading of Plato.

Does this chair exist?

Does Plato think that things you can see, feel, or touch are not a genuine article, but merely a shadow of the real thing?

Is the outward circumstance a dream?
We think we understand the real world, but because we are trapped in our bodies we can see only the shadows on the wall. According to Plato, we should not be a slave to our senses.

Shaw: "Better keep yourself clean and bright: you are the window through which you must see the world".

What is the self? Is the self "consciousness"?

IGSS Science:
Lab - Analyzing Greenhouse Gases and Global Temperature Data Over Time
Students will determine whether amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have been increasing by graphing temperatures over time and looking a projected trends that the group has established.

Part I: Analyzing the student graphs produced. Students compare their graph to Annual Mean Temperature Graph: 1866-1996

Part II: Historical Data of Carbon Dioxide
Are all temperature changes related to human activity?
Does C02 lag temperature or do temperature changes lag C02? What does this imply?
Besides humans, what are other factors that could related to carbon dioxide emissions?
How can ice cores, sea floor sediments and tree rings tell us about the past?

Part III:
C02 --Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii
Assuming the current rate of increase continues for the level of C02, predict the levels of atmospheric C02 in the year 2025? 2050?

Part IV: How has the C02 concentration changed over long time scales? What were the pre-industrial concentrations? How has the CH4 concentration changed over long time scales? What were the pre-industrial concentrations. Looking at graphs, determine how the N20 concentrations have changed over long time scales? What were the pre-industrial concentrations?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Today in IGSS

Continuation of Panel Discussions on Chicago topics.

Discussion of Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". The allegory of the cave is written as a fictional dialogue between Plato's teacher Socrates and Plato's brother Glaucon which explains his beliefs:
--the world revealed by our senses is not the real world but only a poor copy of it
--the real world can only be apprehended intellectually
--knowledge cannot be transferred from teacher to student
--education consists in directing student's minds toward what is real and important and allowing them to apprehend it for themselves
--the universe ultimately is good
--enlightened individuals have an obligation to the rest of society

Brainstorming topics to investigate for Human Footprint unit.

Paper use
Plastic use
Watering athletic fields
Water resevoirs in NT Township
Styrofoam use
Light bulbs
Electric Hand Dryers
Wasted food
Thrift stores - clothing
Team uniforms
Aluminum cans
NT T-shirt phenomena
Team travel
Club travel
Administrator's travel
Catered food for NT lunches
Cell phones
Driving to school

Monday: be prepared for "When did Humans First Alter Global Climate"?

New Unit:

What is our Footprint? What Should we Do About it?

As an individual or in a pair, choose one aspect of our local community’s footprint which you believe is problematic or in need of serious study. Once you have chosen your area of interest:
a. collect accurate data on the subject; come up with accurate quantitative (and perhaps qualitative) data; use a combination of class time and homework time to get this data; call people, visit places, ambush people in their offices; keep track of your data!!!
b. research carbon footprint calculators and formulas which are relevant to your topic; organize your data, and use your understanding of natural cycles to apply the correct calculations to your data; your teachers will show you a couple of models during class, such as the footprint of paper at NT and the footprint of a hamburger
c. analyze your data and present it in the most clear fashion; you will probably want to show several ways in which you have examined the footprint of this item; you may want to give comparative data to help your audience really understand the impact; in the final and most important step of any data analysis, apply your knowledge and beliefs and make concrete suggestions as to what our local community should do

In-class brainstorm: Weds., Dec. 2
Choose area of study: Fri., Dec. 4 at the latest
Class time (to supplement your own time spent): Dec. 7-9
Turn in final product, begin step 2: Dec. 11

New Trier Organic Garden