Wednesday, December 30, 2015

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish {Ways to Protect and Conserve Groundwater – Wash Smarter}

This is week five in Frannie's series - The Groundwater Foundation's Top 10 List of Ways to Protect and Conserve Groundwater at Home.  This week is dedicated to washing smarter.  This includes thinking about the way you bathe, wash your dishes, and your clothes.

Frannie is going to limit the length of her shower to just five minutes, she will set a timer so she knows when her five minutes is up.  She is also going to challenge her family members to take five minute showers as well.  You can do the same!

Frannie is also looking for ways to conserve water in her closet!  Check out her previous post about washing clothes for how to conserve water by re-wearing clothes and only running full loads of laundry.

There are also easy ways to save water when it comes to washing dishes.  Skip pre-rinsing dishes and scrap them off in the trashcan instead.  And the same rule applies with dishwashers - only run a load when it is full!

Talk to your parents/guardians about upgrading to high efficiency machines when the time comes for replacing old machines.  Remember - high efficiency machines can help cut down on the water bill!

Track how much water you are using and how much you save by switching to these easy water-saving methods with The Groundwater Foundation's water-tracking app, 30 by 30!

See you in 2016!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish {Ways to Protect and Conserve Groundwater – Fix the Drip}

Frannie is continuing to work her way through The Groundwater Foundation's Top 10 List of Ways to Protect and Conserve Groundwater at Home.  This week is dedicated to fixing leaks around the house.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency a leaky faucet that drips one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year!  Frannie is going to check all the faucets, fixtures, toilets, and taps in her house for leaks.  She is also going to make sure they are fixed right away.  Frannie also wants to install water conserving methods, like a low-flow shower head or an aerator (a small tool that can be screwed on the faucet head that decreases the amount of gallons per minute that flow out of a faucet).

Check out Frannie's previous blog, Water Leak Detectives, for how to find leaks around your home!

Make sure to share with your parents/guardians if you find any leaks or faucets without aerators during your investigation.  Frannie found a faucet in her bathroom without an aerator, she went to the hardware store and bought an aerator and carefully followed the instructions on the packaging.

Tune in next week to continue Frannie's series and learn how to wash smarter!  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish {Ways to Protect and Conserve Groundwater – Don't Let It Run}

This week in The Groundwater Foundation's Top 10 List of Ways to Protect and Conserve groundwater at home's series, Frannie will be discussing some easy ways to conserve water every day at home!

This week's theme is Don't Let It Run!  Throughout every day we all use the faucet many times - when we brush our teeth, wash our hands, get a drink of water, and for many other activities.  Making sure to shut off the faucet when you are not using it is a very simple way to cut down on your water use.

Frannie makes sure to shut the faucet off while she brushes her teeth!

 Frannie also washes her fruits and vegetables in a large bowl instead of running the faucet.

Another simple action Frannie takes to cut down on her run time is by keeping a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap until the water is cold.

Download The Groundwater Foundation's 30 by 30 app to track your water use and learn other easy ways to save water every day!

Do you have other ideas of how to save water at home?  Share them here!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish {Ways to Protect and Conserve Groundwater - Manage Waste}

It's the second week in Frannie's series of The Groundwater Foundation's Top 10 List of Ways to Protect and Conserve Groundwater at home.  This week Frannie will be focusing on managing waste.  There are many materials that we use in our homes that we have to be very careful storing, using, and disposing.  These materials include things like:
  • Paint
  • Motor Oil
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Batteries
  • Pesticides
  • Unused chemicals (i.e. - for cleaning, salt for de-icing pathways, etc.)

While Girl Scouts should leave these materials alone and let adults deal with them, you can still talk to parents/guardians about how they can be groundwater stewards and properly manage these materials.

Here are a few ideas to discuss:

1.  Prevent accidents that can hurt people, wildlife like Frannie, or the environment.  Make sure that all potentially toxic substances are properly sealed and stored. 

2.  Only buy as much as you will use.  There's no point in stocking up on a substance that will end up sitting on a shelf collecting dust!

3.  Don't dump or trash household hazardous waste.  The Environmental Protection Agency defines household hazardous waste as common household items that contain toxic, corrosive, ignitable, or reactive ingredients.  Many communities have household hazardous waste collection days (or even permanent sites).  Ask your parents/guardians to contact the local health department to find one near you.

4.  A growing number of communities are participating in medication take-back programs to keep pharmaceuticals out of the environment and from falling into the wrong hands.  Check in your local area for proper ways to dispose of these materials.  Do you live in Nebraska?  There are over 250 pharmacies participating in the statewide take-back disposal program offered by the Medication Education for Disposal Strategies (MEDS) Coalition.  Find a pharmacy near you!

Do you have more ideas?  Share other steps your family has taken to manage waste properly!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish {Ways to Protect and Conserve Groundwater – Reduce Chemical Use}

For the next ten weeks Frannie will be sharing The Groundwater Foundation's Top 10 List of Ways to Protect and Conserve Groundwater at home!  Each week will feature a step you can teach your troop to share with their families to become groundwater stewards!  The first week in this series is about reducing your chemical use.

In most homes you can find many chemicals, used for cleaning or taking care of the lawn.  Most of these chemicals are removed from water by waste treatment facilities before the water is returned to rivers, streams, and lakes, but certain chemicals found in cleaners and other household chemicals - like ammonia, phosphorus, and nitrogen - are not removed by the treatment process.  That means when cleaning products are rinsed down the drain or flushed down the toilet, they are getting into our surface water and affecting fish like Frannie!

Many of these products can be replaced with simple, environmentally-friendly options that you can buy in the store or make yourself!  Follow this easy recipe with Frannie to make your own cleaners!

Here's what you'll need:
  • A spray bottle for each Girl Scout
  • Funnel
  • Large stickers
  • Decorative stickers
  • Small measuring cups
  • Water 
  • Vinegar
  • Dish Soap
  • Baking Soda
  • Optional - essential oil (orange and lemon are great for cleaners!)

Here's what you do:

1.   Have the Girl Scouts write the following recipe and directions on their sticker for future use:
     - 1 teaspoon baking soda
     - 1/2 teaspoon dish soap
     - 2 tablespoons vinegar
     Shake well!

2.  Allow the girls to decorate their bottles with stickers.

3.  Use the funnel to add the baking soda, dish soap, and vinegar to your spray bottle.  Shake the ingredients in the bottle. 

4.  Let it sit for a minute and fill the bottle with warm water and shake it up.

5Optional - add one to two drops of essential oil to the spray bottle mixture to give it a more pleasant scent.

6.  Replace the cap, shake, and enjoy!

Share pictures of your Girl Scouts creating their own environmentally-friendly cleaners!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish {Happy Thanksgiving!}

Happy Thanksgiving, Girl Scouts!  This year, Frannie has so much to be thankful for.  She is thankful for her fish family and all her Girl Scout friends that she gets to share fun water-wise activities with every week!  Frannie wants to share a fun upcycling Thanksgiving craft project that you can do with your troop.

Upcycling is the process of taking something that would normally be thrown away and making it usable again.  Upcycling reduces the need to use new, raw materials when making a new product.  By using old materials instead of new materials, less energy and water is used.  Furthermore, air and water pollution are reduced.

Frannie will be showing you how to make fun Thanksgiving table decorations - Thanksgiving hat candy holders!

Here's what you'll need:
  •  Empty, clean K-Cups (one for each girl)
  • Construction paper or cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Yellow marker
  • Small pieces of your favorite candy
  • Optional: ruler
  • Optional: paint or markers (white, brown, or black)

Here's what you do:

1.  Clean out your K-Cup (It's a little messy, be sure to rinse it out really well!)

2.  Frannie used a black permanent marker to make her K-Cup black.

3.  Next, Frannie cut a strip of her construction paper.

4.   Then she cut a small square piece of paper and colored it yellow.

5.  Frannie then glued the yellow square onto the end of the strip of paper and wrapped both pieces around the base of the overturned K-Cup.

6.  Using the black construction paper, Frannie cut out a circle.  Be sure your circle is a little wider than the base of the overturned K-Cup; this is where a ruler comes in handy.  Use the ruler to measure the base of your K-Cup so you can mark how big your circle should be.

7.  Next, Frannie filled the K-Cup with the candy and glued the circle piece of paper she cut out to the bottom.

8.  Use your hat as a table decoration during your Thanksgiving festivities or give it to a friend that you are thankful for!

This is an easy, fun activity that you can do with your troop!  While you are making your craft, play a fun Thanksgiving game.

If possible, have Girl Scouts sit in a circle while they work on their hats.  Choose a girl to start the game (the oldest Scout for example).  Have the first Girl Scout say what she is thankful for.  The girl sitting next to her will repeat what the first Scout said and then add what she is thankful for and so on and so forth.  For example,

Abby: "I'm thankful for my family."

Bailey: "I'm thankful for my family and my friends."

Clara: "I'm thankful for my family, friends, and my pets."

Frannie wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving! 


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {The Hydrogeology Challenge}

Frannie is so excited to share this fun, online tool with high school aged Girl Scouts - The Hydrogeology Challenge!  You can use it to learn basic groundwater computer modeling concepts.

The Hydrogeology Challenge offers you the chance to learn about groundwater through a computer simulation.  It challenges you to design and conduct a scientific investigation and evaluate solutions to complex real-world problems.

What you'll need:
  • A computer or tablet with internet access
  • A calculator

Additional Resources:
  • Video walk-through: this walks you through how to use the computer model.

Before you start using the model, Frannie suggests you get to know a few groundwater basics:

1.  Know the basics
     a.  What is groundwater?
     b.  How does groundwater move?
     Groundwater is part of the hydrologic cycle - water is recharged to the groundwater system by rainwater, melting snow and streams, lakes, or rivers.  Check out the image below!  Groundwater can flow into surface water and surface water can contribute to groundwater recharge.

     c.  What do you need to know in order to model the movement of groundwater?  Using the Hydrogeology Challenge, you will calculate:
  • Flow direction - Which way the groundwater is flowing.
  • Gradient - You will be given the location of three wells, the water table elevation of each well, and the distance between the wells to determine the slope of the water table.
  • Horizontal Velocity - The soil porosity (the amount of empty space in the soil, measured as a percentage) and the hydraulic conductivity (describes the ease with which water can move through pore spaces or fractures.  This is dependent on what the soil is made of - if the soil is sandy, it will allow water to move through it more easily, water does not move very easily in soil made mostly of clay).

2.  Run the model!

Follow the directions - the model is created as a learning tool, so it will walk you through each step.  First you will choose three wells.  And don't worry if you miss an answer, you can use check answer and show solution buttons to help you along!

Here are a couple of tips from Frannie:

1.  Read the directions carefully. 
2.  If you want you can further learn about the assumptions that were made in creating the Hydrogeology model.  To do this, click on the "Reality Check" arrow as you work through the three steps.

3.  If you want to do it again:
  • Choose different wells
  • Turn pumping on
  • Choose a different map

4.  Remember, if you need more help watch the video walk-through.
5.  Get your school involved with Science Olympiad and compete in the Hydrogeology Challenge!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish {America Recycles Day}

November 15, 2015 is America Recycles Day!

Frannie has taken the pledge to recycle more in honor of Keep America Beautiful's recycling initiative and has found a recycling event to participate in this coming Sunday!  Find an event near you to participate in!  America Recycles Day happens every year and helps educate people about recycling and promotes recycling all across the country.

Frannie found a fun activity to do in honor of America Recycles Day.  You can do it too!  The goal of the activity is to match the correct fun fact with the corresponding recyclable product.

Frannie printed off the instructions for this activity and gathered the supplies she needs, including:
  • An aluminum soda can
  • A glass bottle
  • A piece of paper
  • A plastic bottle
  • A steel food can
  • Scissors

Follow these steps with Frannie to do this activity!
1.  Print the fun facts from the website above (and the images of the items if you don't have the actual items).  Cut out the fun facts.

2.  Try to match up the correct fun fact with the corresponding item!

3.   Use the last page of the activity guide to see what the correct answers are.  Are you surprised by any of the facts?

Don't forget to recycle!

Share what you will be doing on America Recycles Day and you could be featured on Frannie's blog!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It’s Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {The Groundwater Foundation’s National Conference}

Frannie had such a great time at The Groundwater Foundation's 2015 National Conference October 20-22!  Frannie and some of her Girl Scout friends shared the Let's Keep It Clean patch program at the Soak It All Up! Workshop on Tuesday, October 20.  These Girl Scout leaders showcased their groundwater knowledge and demonstrated activities that other Girl Scouts across the country can do to earn their groundwater patches and learn how to be water stewards!  These activities are fun and easy to implement with the extensive resources available for Girl Scout troop leaders!  The knowledge and hard work of these Girl Scouts made for a very successful workshop!

Girl Scout Cadettes share Frannie the Fish's Story at the Soak It All Up! Workshop.

Girl Scout Cadettes lead Soak It All Up! Workshop participants in the Awesome Aquifer activity.
Frannie also had a great time at the National Conference celebrating The Groundwater Foundation's 30th anniversary, hearing from expert speakers, and recharging her enthusiasm to protect and conserve groundwater!

Want to learn more about The Groundwater Foundation's Girl Scout patch program or the resources available to make leading your troop through groundwater activities a breeze?  E-mail