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How Groovy Lab in a Box Goes Green

Do you encourage your STEMists to live a “greener” lifestyle?

Whether you are a parent who homeschools your children or a teacher with a classroom of STEMists, teaching children to be eco-friendly and environmentally aware can build lifelong habits that may protect the future of our planet. Groovy Lab in a Box has a mission to be environmentally conscious when planning the supplies and producing the packaging for its monthly-themed science kit. In fact, we try to include green activities to instill an eco-friendly mindset among our STEMists.

How Groovy Lab in a Box Goes Green

“We are always looking for ways to decrease our carbon footprint, directly or indirectly, through our packaging and supplies for our monthly themes,” said Katy McCracken, product development specialist for Groovy Lab in a Box.

McCracken says she is a “recyclaholic” when it comes to using materials of any kind.  “I am so pleased that Team Groovy Lab in a Box is continuously working to create a product that is recyclable, reusable or compostable,” says McCracken.  “For example, STEMists will notice a change in the size of their lab notebook—a measure to reduce waste and cut down on the weight of the product, ultimately affecting our carbon footprint.”

A Groovy Green Box

STEMists can count on the Team Groovy Lab in a Box to have considered the environment with each box they receive.  Many STEMists don’t realize that there is more to the friendly, retro Groovy Lab in a Box packaging than meets the eye. First, our lab notebooks are 100% recyclable and biodegradable because they are printed with inks that use vegetable oil as its base.

Additionally, our boxes are made with 100% recycled content with a varying percentage of post-industrial and post-consumer waste.  Our boxes don’t stop there—Groovy boxes are 100% recyclable, biodegradable and compostable because they are printed with water-based inks. These inks are non-toxic, lead-free and do not contain any heavy metals.

Going Green With Our Supplies

Keep on Turning

“Keep on Turning” groovy box

Many of the supplies included in our science kits are also eco-friendly. For example, the Keep on Turning themed box includes sugar cane bowls.  Intended as a supply for a water wheel activity, the bowls are made from 100% renewable and reclaimed resources. Sugarcane fiber products are BPI-certified compostable and a strong alternative to traditional plastic or polystyrene.

Groovy Eco-Activities

Porch Swing Platform Bird Feeder

“For The Birds” Porch Swing Bird Feeder

In addition to our supplies, we teach about the environment through our blog posts and monthly investigations. In our Groovy and Simple Water Experiments for STEMists blog post, Team Groovy included a Give a Hoot. Don’t Pollute! section presenting STEMists with a challenging experiment on how to clean polluted water.  And, in the For the Birds groovy box, STEMists are presented with an Engineering Design Challenge to design and build a bird feeder that meets the survival needs of local birds using upcycled materials.  The activity prompts STEMists to investigate types of birds in their local area, the bird’s drinking and feeding habits, and what types of bird feeder structures best suit them.

Be sure to check out our cool, retro style Groovy Lab in a Box for the STEMists in your life!  Groovy Lab in a Box contains hours of exciting and fun scientific challenges, many including information and challenges that teach them to be responsible for the planet we live on—the perfect gift for any STEMist!

Groovy Ways To Attract Backyard Birds

More than 50 million Americans are considered backyard birders, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.  After gardening, it’s the second-most popular hobby in the country.  What many birders may not realize is that there is a science to feeding birds.

Groovy Ways To Attract Backyard Birds

Bird Metabolism

STEMists may be shocked to learn that birds need at least 10,000 calories each day.  Comparatively, an appropriate daily calorie intake for an active 9-13 year old STEMist is 1,800-2,200.  Birds need a massive amount of calories because their metabolism rate runs extremely high, specifically in flight, in extreme cold weather and during breeding season.

Birds are skilled at determining which food items are the most efficient and the best nutritional choice.  Some birds will test the seed’s weight and taste with their beak before making their choice – one reason you find birdseed on the ground instead of in the bird feeder. Generally, low-quality food is discarded.  Birds also look for seeds that are easily digested and don’t take a lot of work to eat.  Because of the amount of food a bird needs to consume (remember, food is fuel/energy), its choices are foods that are fast and easy to manage.

Birds and their Food Preferences

Birds and their Food Preferences

  • Nyjer (thistle seed) attracts American gold and lesser gold finches and pine siskins. Nyjer is considered gourmet for a bird.
  • Millet (white-proso) will attract towhees, sparrows, dark-eyed juncos, quail and mourning doves. This seed is best scattered on the ground because perch feeding birds won’t eat it.
  • Milo or Sorghum is birdseed for ground feeding. It attracts Curve-billed Thrashers, Gambel’s Quails, towhees, sparrows and juncos. According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology seed preference tests, these birds prefer milo to sunflower. In another study, they found that House Sparrows did not like Milo, but cowbirds did.
  • Black oil sunflower seeds attract the most perching birds including Purple finches, Oat titmice, Scrub jays, Blackheaded grosbeaks and more.
  • Safflower, an elongated white seed, can help birders attract cardinals found mainly in the eastern United States, and chickadees whose home is generally along the coast or in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
  • Suet is a popular choice among nuthatches and woodpeckers.
  • Mealworm (live) acts like a magnet for bluebirds!
  • Fruit such as oranges, grapes, apples and berries are a perfect menu item for the tanager and orioles. Placing a small dish of jelly in your feeding area will almost definitely attract your bird friends; however, be cautious about putting fruits and jellies out in warmer weather.  This delicacy is best used in cold winter weather.
  • Baked, or dried, melon seeds and pumpkin seeds are a popular choice for birds; however, smaller species will be grateful for crushed seeds for easier digestion.

Designing the Perfect Bird Food for your Backyard Tree

Build A Bird Seed Ornament

  • 1 package of plain gelatin
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cups mixture of  black sunflower, millet & thistle seeds
  • 3 T. rice syrup
  • A dab of butter
  • Star-shaped cookie cutter or small Bundt pan for wreath shape

Dissolve gelatin in 1/2 cup warm water; whisk rice syrup and flour to create a paste; add bird seed and stir well.  Grease the inside of the star-shaped cookie cutter with a dab of butter (Bundt pan, or other mold), place on cookie sheet and press seed mixture with a spoon to fill the shape. Use a pointed object to make a hole in the star to make room for stringing a piece of rope or ribbon. In 24 hours, flip onto a plate or wax paper and let dry for another 24-48 hours. Birds will flock to your groovy stars!

Make a Sunflower Butter Pinecone Feeder

Make a Sunflower Butter Pinecone OrnamentBirds love sunflower butter!  A great choice for winter months, birds love homemade pinecone feeders. Use a spoon or butter knife to apply sunflower butter into the crevices of a pinecone and roll the cone in a mixture of black sunflower, millet and thistle seeds. Then, hang on a tree or set the cone in a feeding dish.

For the Birds” Groovy Lab in a Box

You and your STEMists can learn more bird science with the educational activities found in “For the Birds” groovy box—all about birds in your local area, their drinking and feeding habits, and what types of bird feeder structures best suit them. Join Now! and challenge your STEMists to a monthly Groovy Lab in a Box, full of everything a child needs to learn about and do hands-on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) investigations. Our monthly box activates thinking, questioning, inquiring and original creation as we guide children through scientific inquiry and engineering design process.

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