Clean Green

And other random rhymes…..

Yes it’s random Advisory Activity time again – Monday’s focus?  Empirical Reasoning – hand on the environment (sounds disturbing, yet trendy)…

IMG_0482One student’s product design for Green Cleaner

Our cleaning is killing us.

Well, thats a bit alarmist, but you get the point.  Many of our cleaning products affect our health in negative ways either directly (they are a dangerous poison near us) or indirectly, they alter our environment on a large scale, or both. Internationally, there has been an increasing movement to supplement (and in many cases, return to) healthier alternative than chemical cleaners which many suspect worsen out indoor air quality and could trigger asthma.

Recently, a summer program at RISD (Room + Room) taught students green cleaning recipes – concoctions that do not irritate the body (more than vinegar can) and manage to clean and disinfect well.  They took this learning a next step and created packaging and advertising around it.  I mean to steal it her and present it to you for a great pair or group activity.


  • Have students go through and take an inventory of the cleaning products in their homes. They should look at the labels for names of chemicals (As one site says, “Take out all of your cleaning products and line them up. If they have ammonia, chlorine, phosphates, petrochemicals, or just a strong chemical odor, then get them out of your house!”)
  • Have students (individually or in groups) use one of the recipes on this page (link) then find a container to put it in (spray bottles from Home Depot/Lowe’s work well).
  • Once they’ve created a recipe, they should think about what to name and market a cleaning supply like this.  What brand name would work? What tagline? Why? Who is the audience? What do they want to see in design and explanation on the label? (Have examples to show students of current packaging for products) Design and print a label (with provided art supplies) and sketch a 30 second audio or video commercial for your product.
  • For an extension, have students research more deeply into one or more of the chemicals in current cleaning supplies to unearth why it is, well anti- earth or flat out dangerous to humans.  This info could be used well in an add campaign. For this type of info, students can start at the ecology center.




Calling All Brains

Empirical Reasoning. Thinking like a scientist

There was a recent news article this week brining up the dangers of cell phones for brains and brain development.

A Few Activities:
1) Read the article together (individual, small group, large group depending on the need) and discuss
Level 1: What is the article about?
Level 2: What does this mean to you and to the world?
Level 3: What kind of Empirical Reasoning is this….

  • What do you think about this study?  This seems to have been a contentious debate over the last few years – very polarizing.
  • What are questions you have about this study? How would you challenge it?
  • As an empirical study, what would you expect to see for it to be trusted?
  • What questions does it raise for you?
  • What other studies might you want to see conducted to get more information?
  • If this study were true, how many people are currently using cell phones and might be susceptible? How has this number increased over the last couple of years?

Let curiosity guide this…

2) In addition to talking about the study and the effects of the study, you could work with students to look at the anatomy and function of the brain.

  • Divide the class into groups to present out about each area of the brain and discuss its role and how it is affected.
  • Have students learn about Left and Right brain and identify which they are more closely connected to and why.  What does this mean for their learning style?

3) Expanded Research:

  • What other chemicals, radiation, nutrients effect the brain in negative or positive way?  Find one study and share.

Content Connection:

Resources on the Brain:
General: (cool animation) – PBS Site
Visual: Science Blogs
Overview: About the Brain
Cartoon: You Tube
Anatomy and Roles: Brain Health,

What is a Tumor:
Basic: MedTerms
More Detailed: Cancer.Gov

Brain Tumor Symptoms:
General: Mayo Clinic