Saturday, December 25, 2010

African Huts Far From the Grid Glow With Renewable Power

These homes are powered with no fossil fuels.

Thanks to this solar panel, Sara Ruto no longer takes a three-hour
taxi ride to a town with electricity to recharge her cellphone.

This article in the New York Times describes how small scale solar power can bring electricity to some of the 1.5 billion people in the world who don't have access to electricity.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Project Afara Data and Links to Photos

Here are the soil and water data we've been collecting and analyzing for the last month. Each table applies to either soil or water data from each of the three locations, Chicago, Detroit and Nigeria.

You can click on these links for photos.  Detroit     Nigeria    Chicago (1)  (2)  (3)   

You can copy and paste these charts into your final reports. Please don't worry about the way the grids turned out on the blog. When you copy and paste, they should turn out alright in your Word document. 

Soil Samples North-Grand Chicago
Salinity BioAssay BioAssay
Location pH of soil (ppm-S) # Sprouts Mean Length
1 Flag Pole 7.25 258 4 57.5
2 Raised Bed 7.25 327 3 20.0
3 Next to Pond 7.25 321 4 38.5
4 Under wood chips front of school 7.5 327 1 95.0
5 Soccer Field 7.25 372 7 97.1
6 Southwest Corner of Building 7.25 369 3 44.7
7 Control Sample 6.25 698 na na

soil Samples Plymoth Detroit
Salinity BioAssay BioAssay
Location pH of soil (ppm-S) # Sprouts Mean Length mm
1 Garden 7.25 287 3 35.33
2 Near tree 7.5 135 4 73.5
3 Near Bush 7.25 190 4 66.25
4 Under Grass 7.25 181 2 54
5 Co ercial Soil 7 335 4 43.75
6 Behind School 7.5 232 4 45
7 na? na?

Soil Samples Christ's School Nigeria
GROUP NO Location PH OF SOIL SAMPLES Salinity PPM/S Bioassay # Sprouts BioAssay Mean Length mm
1 SCHOOL FARM 6.5 16.7 no data no data
3 SWAMPY SOIL 7 11.3
4 CO ERCIAL SOIL 5.75 1.76
5 SCHOOL FIELD 6.25 98.7
6 HOME BACKYARD 5.5 42.7

The following are the WATER SAMPLE DATA

 Water pH and Salinity Measurement North Grand Chicago
sample number Location pH of water Acidic, Basic or Neutral Salinity PPM-S BioAssay #sprouts BioAssay Length mm
NGHS pond 7.5 Basic - weak 218 4 6.5
Tropical aquarium 8 Basic 831 2 15
“Drinking” water 5.5 Acidic 15.2 2 1
Tap water 7 Neutral 148 2 18
Ms. Lopez’s aquarium 8 Basic 646 1 32
6 Rain Water NA 59.6

Plymouth Detroit
 Water pH and Salinity Measurement
sample number Location pH of water Acidic, Basic or Neutral Salinity PPM-S BioAssay #sprouts BioAssay Length mm
pond 7.25 weak base 475 no data
puddle 8 base 328
Detroit city tap 7.25 weak base 117
Wixon city tap 7.5 weak base 105
Bottled water 7.5 weak base 69.3

Christ's School Nigeria
 Water pH and Salinity Measurement
sample number Location pH of water Acidic, Basic or Neutral Salinity PPM-S BioAssay #sprouts BioAssay Length mm
stream 6.25 acid 97.1  No data No data
tap 7 neutral 14.5
pond 6.5 acid 88.7
Well water 5.75 acid 12.3
Rain 5.75 acid 7.00

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pen Pals

Write a response to one of the following pen pals and e-mail it to me at for class credit. I will forward it on to Christ's School in Nigeria.

 Letter 1

I am Abioye Sola. I am in grade12 in Christ’s School Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State ,Nigeria, W/Africa. I am dark in complexion. My best subject is Biology. I’m a Christian. My hobbies are games and charting. My friends call me CAFU.

My country, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. Nigeria is a country with cities and towns, having the biggest city in W/Africa as Ibadan. Our culture is unique and rich expressed in languages, dressing and food .Nigeria is blessed with mineral resources such as Gold, Petroleum, Coal and so on

My country is blessed with fertile lands which have proved the country as one of the highly rated exporting countries in the world. Cash crops like cocoa, cotton, groundnut, coffee etc. are being exported.

A renowned Nobel laurel, Prof.Wole  Soyinka is from Nigeria. Others from Africa are Dr Ben Carson, Barrack Obama, the first black America to become the president of United States of America. For every cloud there is silver lining, Nigeria’s politics is not encouraging and politicians both past and present are not promising. Graduates are not employed; armed robbery is rampant as a result of this .Industries is not functioning up to expectation as a result of epileptic power supply and irregular water supply. Strike is the tone of workers before their request could be granted.

I like playing football when I am less busy. My future ambition is to become a       surgeon and my role model is Dr. Ben Carson. Who is your role model and why?

I wish to know more about your school and the education policy you’re using.

Bye till I hear from you.

Abioye Sola,
Christ’s School,Ado Ekiti,Nigeria.

Letter 2

My name is Afolabi Bamidele. My friends call me AFOBAM.I am in grade 11 at christ’s school. I am a male by gender, I am chocolate in skin color. My hobbies are reading, browsing the web and traveling. I am a Christian by religion. My future ambition is to become a medical doctor.

Nigeria is located on lat 15 north of the equator with an estimated population of 140 millions citizens all in its 36 states. It runs a parliamentary system of government. The educational system is 6-3-3-4.i.e 6 tears in primary school, 3years in both junior and senior secondary schools and 4 years at the tertiary institution.
            Corruption is found in every sectors in my country. There is insecurity all over. Miscreants and hooligans all around. There is unemployment; many graduates are roaming about the streets. There are highway robbers and cases of assassinations.
Citizens are lawless and violence, most drivers are reckless. Nigerians are selfish; they don’t want you to be like them. The rich don’t want the poor to be someone in live.

            In Nigeria you would see a politician taking home millions of Naira while a teacher has only a thousand to be taken home as his or her salary. Citizens are desperate to get money in their great love for excessive materials. Poverty has spread like fire in Nigeria and only will you see an average Nigerian eating up to three square meals per day.
            Unstable power supply and lack of good roads is a factor affecting the size of industry in Nigeria. Poor conservation of available resources will not be over looked.
            Well, what is the hope of our people? Is there a future? I strongly believe that there must be a way out. Where there is a will, there is a way. I am sure that all these social evils will be eradicated. In spite of all these social evils, Nigeria is still blessed with a variety of resources. Nigeria is part of the top nations that supply crude oil. There are various tourist centers where wild life could be seen. Nigerians have done well in areas of sports. Nigerians have many future talented athletes and great footballers worldwide e.g. John Obi Mikel. 

Hope to hear from you later.

Afolabi Bamidele,
Christ’s School,Ado Ekiti,Nigeria.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The AFARA Project - Week 1 Report

We're testing soil and water samples here in Chicago and comparing them to samples collected by other students in Detroit, Michigan and in Nigeria, Africa.

NGHS Students: Download the "Week 1 Report Template" from this site by clicking on the "File" menu and selecting "Download Original Document" to save the document to your computer desktop. You can then edit the template by filling in your information and answering the questions and then you can email it to Mr. Cantor at mr.cantor  @  gmail.  com .

If the above link does not work, try this one: 

Links to Photos

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Food Web Assignment - Ecolog assignment #4

Do the following assignment as Assignment #4 in your eco log.

1. Go to 

2. Read through the web page and describe the meaning of the following terms
** Photo
** Auto
** Troph
** Hetero
** Photoautroph
** Primary Producer

3.  Go to  
Play the game of putting the correct organisms in their food web. Use the information at if you need it.

When you are done with the food web game, draw it into your ecolog.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Offshore Wind Power Line Wins Praise, and Backing - New York Times

Read this article about how Google and some other investors plan to build a multi-billion dollar "electricity backbone" 15 miles off the Atlantic coast of the US to encourage the building of giant wind-farms out in the ocean. What do you think about the proposal? Do you think Google and the company "Good Energies" will end up making money on this project? Will it help or hurt the environment?

Protesters for and against building wind turbines near the shore.  Both groups might like the plan to build wind farms far from the shore so they will barely be seen, and won't affect wild-life as much and wind turbines near land.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Just Ouside Chicago, A Major Polluter Lurks - Chicago Tribune

Have you ever driven over the "Skyway" bridge down through Indiana? If you have, you might have seen this coal burning power plant that provides some of our electricity here in Chicago. The article from the Chicago Tribune discusses how this power plant pollutes our air and kills millions of fish in Lake Michigan.

Indiana's State Line coal burning power plant, one of the nation's dirtiest power plants, hangs on despite environmental dangers

What do you think about this source of electricity for Chicago? Why do people protest at the coal burning plants in Pilsen and Little Village? Should people protest this State Line plant? If the plant were shut down, where would we get that part of our electricity from? 


Protests in Little Village and Pilsen

How can shutting down a dirty coal plant create "green jobs?"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What killed all these fish? Yes, each dot is a dead fish and that is a river, not a road!

Read the article about the mystery of what is killiing all these fish near the Gulf of Mexico.

"At this point, it's impossible to tell whether hypoxia (low oxygen) from Big Ag's (agricultural) fertilizer runoff (more about that here) or toxins from BP's oil and dispersants killed the fish, or if some unholy conspiracy between the two performed the deed."

Is this evidence that supports the theory of global climate change?

This Yale Environment 360 blog post reports a story from the Guardian UK newspaper which suggests that this phenomenon may cause the extinction of the Alaskan walrus population.

Walruses Abandon Ice
And Move En Masse To Coast of Alaska

An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 walruses, mainly mothers and their calves, have abandoned the shrinking and thinning ice of the Chukchi Sea and hauled out on the Alaska shoreline, according to researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Legacy of the Gulf Spill: What to Expect for the Future?

This article looks at the how well the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem was able to recover after the 1970 Ixtoc oil rig explosion in the Gulf. The author uses that information to explain what we can expect from the even larger spill caused by BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

The Gulf of Mexico’s capacity to recover from previous environmental assaults — especially the 1979 Ixtoc explosion — provides encouragement about the prospects for its post-Deepwater future. But scientists remain worried about the BP spill's long-term effects on the health of the Gulf and its sea life.

by John McQuaid

The 1979 Ixtoc oil rig spill which was the largest spill in the Gulf of Mexico until 2010 when the BP spill occurred

The BP Deepwater Horizon rig after it exploded leading to the largest oil spill ever in the Gulf of Mexico

Monday, August 23, 2010

What is Salmonella? How did it get into 550 Million eggs and make 2000 people sick?

Click on the link above to read a short article from the Tree Hugger blog about how large and poorly managed factory style farms can cause diseases like salmonella to spread very quickly.

What do you think?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Welcome to Environmental Science

The one and only Earth
This course will integrate Earth science, physics, biology, chemistry, economics and political science to give students an overview of how the Earth's systems support life and how human activity affects those systems. We will also explore issues concerning who gets to decide how human activity will affect the environment and other people.