Thursday, July 11, 2013

Rainy Night Environmental Summit Art Gallery

Students at the Environmental Summit 2013 took some time out to create some art on Wednesday night when showers rolled in. "Showers" may be an understatement. Along with the thunder, there was quite the light show with the lightning.   
It has rained every day at camp. In fact, it has rained every day in North Carolina for 18 days straight according to the nightly news (19 counting today - only sprinkles so far). This is not typical.
Oh well. Summit campers do not let a little or a lot of rain damper their spirits or creativity. The ice cream truck just pulled around back, and some summit attendees captured nature with paint.  

Here we have some very colorful and cheerful looking flowers. I'm not sure what kind of flowers we have here, but they are certainly pretty.

This I believe may be one of the deeper puddles from the evening. If every cloud has a silver lining, then every puddle should have a pretty mermaid and a fish.

This interesting piece caught my eye. I have not decided whether it's bear paws, hearts, or muddy footprints from the storm. In any case, this one captured my fancy.

Clearly we have a budding Picasso. I love abstract art. I won't wager a guess as to what this may be (but readers feel free to use your art eyes). I hope I did not post this upside down. If so, apologies to the artist.

When Mother Nature gives you rain, that is a good thing (up to a point). In this case, a summer storm can inspire some great painting and a good time with new friends from all across the country.

Camper Spotlight- Ariana- Confronting Climate Change

By: Katie Trischman

Our Camper of Interest: Ariana Nicholson of Durham, North Carolina
Want to get involved? Go to NCSCA's facebook or their website!

A picture from NCSCA's website
It is without a doubt that every person attending the summit is passionate about the environment, but one girl in particular has found a medium to express her passion; she is an important member of the steering committee in the North Carolina Students for Climate Action (NCSCA for short).

The main goals of the NCSCA are to raise awareness about climate change and encourage youth to take action such as attending clean up events or lobbying.

And Ariana Nicholson is directly in the middle of all the action. 

Ariana has had her fair share of experiences in raising awareness for climate change and has possessed a passion for nature for as long as she can remember. However, she never actually did anything until she went to the Outdoor Academy in the 10th grade. There she learned about climate change and the dangers that our environment face. But the most important thing that Ari learned was that she could make a difference. 

Upon returning to Carolina Friends School, Ari took a class called Quaker Advocacy and Climate Change. Through this class, Ari went to DC and lobbied for action against climate change to politicians such as Richard Burr. The experience obviously stuck with Ari, because upon returning she, her classmates, and other concerned students created a conference. From this conference of ragtag students, the NCSCA was born.

"We aim to raise awareness in our communities and across the state about the causes and effects of climate change, and to take action through politics and community organization.  In our activism and projects, we seek to involve a diverse range of students, regardless of political or social affiliation. We will no longer be idle; climate change is here and now, and it is our responsibility to better the world of tomorrow." -Part of the NCSCA's mission statement

Our spotlight camper: Ariana Nicholson
As part of the steering committee, Ari is highly involved in the organization's activities and is constantly searching for more support. Ari made it clear that the NCSCA encourages people to join as committee members and hopes to create a network of environmental clubs and committees across the state. She hopes that they can lead events where students can discuss and express their passion for the environment in order to create a real change.

In the end, Ari isn't much different than any of the other teens attending the summit. She simply found a way to express her passion. Hopefully over time, all of us can discover our passions and find ways to spread that passion. If any message can be taken from Ari, it's to not keep your passions a secret; seek out others who may have the same drive. If students from all over the state, or even the nation, begin to communicate, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished.

Stop Copying Me! : A Serious Spin on the Mimicking Game

By: Katie Trischman

What We Did


The Environmental Summit of 2013 began its first day in Catawba's 189-acre ecological preserve to study a subject called biomimicry. Don't worry; that term sounded foreign to us as well before we began our geocaching adventure.

With only a map and a GPS, each group set out to find their own sequence of geocache stations and slowly discover the possibilities of biomimicry.

 Biomimicry is taking inspiration from nature and solving current issues with these models from nature. It sounds so surprisingly simple, yet humans have remained trapped in their ways of doing things for thousands of years. Where do we look for our solutions, and how do we translate the natural world into industry?

We not only found inspiration in each station but also all around us in the marshy woodland of Catawba's ecological preserve.


What We Learned


Our amphibious friend: the salamander
Our trek through the reserve wasn't all mosquitoes and turtles; each geocache station offered new inspiration for solutions of current problems. The stations were also extremely open-ended, allowing each individual to think of totally different sets of problems and solutions.

One source of inspiration was our amphibious friend the salamander (which I personally find to be quite cute). These unique creatures can excrete a milky substance from their skin when threatened by blood-sucking leeches (eww) which causes the leeches to unlatch from the salamander's skin, which is really important for the salamanders as they need their moist skin for respiration.

 Salamanders also have incredible regenerative abilities. By looking into how salamanders can naturally do these activities, our groups found many different problems that salamander-inspired solutions could solve. One camper's idea was to look into how salamanders produce their leech-proof substance to better create leech repellant that causes no damage to the environment. Another person suggested looking into the regenerative abilities of salamanders to help with medicine and possibly stem cell research.

Another geocache station featured the beautiful and delicate butterfly. But are butterflies really that fragile? If they are, how is it that their wings are always brilliant in color and never affected by wear and tear despite the fact that they are never witnessed grooming themselves?

Many people know that butterfly wings are made up of flaky scales, but few realize what this means. Butterfly wings are self-cleaning; the scales on butterfly wings are constantly replacing and cleaning themselves. Inspiration from butterfly wings can be used to create paint on buildings that can clean itself, and even fabric dyes are starting to search for a way to self-clean.

We found many other geocache stations, all of which offered inspiration for new solutions. In reality, the possibilities are as endless as nature itself. Any organism or product of an organism can offer a new prospective on issues that we, as humans, once viewed as unsolvable. Our problems are only as difficult as we make them, and by keeping our minds open to inspiration from the environment, we can find all sorts of solutions where we once saw roadblocks.

And so I invite you, dear reader, to keep your mind open and find inspiration in the world around you. It's time for us to mimic the most beautiful and complex machine in the world: the earth.