How to Draw a World Map in 30 Seconds

A really smart 16-year-old named David has become part of the Notebook team.

The week, at the end of a morning spent creating science- and nature-themed games and puzzles with us, David mentioned that a teacher had taught him how to draw a map of the world in 30 seconds. We asked him to demonstrate. Pamelia turned the camera on and made the youtube video below. I think it's pretty cool.

Planting Ideas You missed a great morning of learning, fun and get-out-and-dig inspiration yesterday if you didn't make it to the Notebook for our workshop on eco-smart, high-yield gardening and sustainable agriculture. While passers-by stopped to gawk at the 25-foot, veggie-oil-powered Compass Green greenhouse-on-wheels parked alongside the Notebook, those of us in the workshop sat out on the tree-shaded deck as Compass Green co-founder Justin Cutter held us rapt with the history, science and shovel-and-compost specifics of biointensive agriculture.

Lily the 12-year-old camerawoman and Anthea the 14-year-old reporter ventured inside the mobile greenhouse to interview Compass Green co-founder Nick Runkle for our Earth News kid-reporter program.

I won't reveal all the surprising facts you'll discover if you attend a Compass Green workshop in the future (remember, the group is driving across America and giving presentations at schools, camps and other places in an effort to teach kids and adults about where their food comes from and inspire them to get out and plant something), but here are three:

1) A dime-sized circle of compost contains one million fungi, 600,000 algae and 10 to 20 million bacteria called actinomycetes—all of them essential to plant growth and vulnerable to the lethal pesticides and herbicides that people dump onto their lawns and gardens.
2) For optimal plant growth, a garden bed should be loosened so that it's 50 percent air and water and 50 percent soil.
3) You should plant vegetables not in rows ("isolated, with deserts on either side," as Justin describes that approach) but in a hexagonal pattern, close enough so that when the plants are mature their leaves will slightly overlap with those of neighboring plants. I'll let you attend a Compass Green workshop to hear the full explanation of why that's so beneficial.

Justin adjusted his talk to connect with everyone in the audience, from professional gardeners to backyard planters to complete novices.

This workshop attendee was particular interested in Justin's description of a gardening technique called double digging.

Happy travels to the Compass Green team of (from left) Britten Chroman, Andrew Runkle, Nick Runkle and Justin Cutter.

If you want to contact Compass Green about a visit to your area, or if you wish to offer a donation to help the group's important work, go to:

Part of a portrait workshop led yesterday afternoon by gifted artist and teacher Kathy Coe, who will be running our children's art workshops for only one more week before heading home.

Eight-year-old Sarah (not pictured) became the youngest workshop leader in Notebook history this week when she taught other kids how to make nature-themed sun prints. She also became the first workshop leader in Notebook history to lead participants in a celebratory jellyfish dance.

Science Humor

Speaking of sun prints and their solar transformation, a young Notebook comedian (O.K., it was David) deadpanned this line the other day: "I told a chemistry joke, but there was no reaction."

Jordan Pond last evening, at the end of our busy workshop day. The pond provides not only drinking water for Seal Harbor and a lovely setting for the famous Jordan Pond House (the only restaurant located within Acadia National Park) but also a pristine hangout for the occasional American black duck.

Some Nice Comments

Today we came across a few gratifying mentions of the Notebook in blogs. Thank you all for your kind words. Here's one from the blog Nature Sense (, whose author is a brilliant woman from the University of Arizona who is developing ways to use new technology to build people's love of nature and empower citizen scientists to record and share their observations:

Great Find in Seal Harbor, Maine—The Naturalist's NotebookOn my recent trip to Acadia National Park on coastal Maine, I stumbled upon a little shop in the town of Seal Harbor. Upon stepping through the door I met Pamelia “Pammie” Markwood, co-founder of the commercial and educational shop. She and I immediately became immersed in conversation, one that lasted about an hour and a half. We talked about citizen science, informal education, observation of the natural world, phrenology, the Children and Nature Network, and lots more. She introduced Brett and I to Craig Neff, her counterpart in the shop, and the conversation went on from there. I wish I had more time to fully explain the greatest of this chance encounter and my desire to seek out more people with the same passion and inspiration to introduce children to science and natural world, but I need to get back to writing. In the meantime, check out their website.

This generous post comes from the entertaining Life on the Road blog ( The Naturalist Notebook Store Another highlight of every summer is going over to Seal Harbor for a visit to the Naturalist's Notebook. The Naturalist's Notebook is a unique shop and exploratorium. It puts to shame the Museum of Science and Children's museum with a vibrant and constantly changing displays on nature, science, art and sport. Curiosity intersect here in fun and unpredictable ways. This is why independent shops are so important. There is no way a mass market shop can ever put the thought and caring that an independent can. If you get the chance visit the shop.

And a five-star review from Yelp:

We visited this store during our vacation to Acadia National Park last week. My three kids (11,9,6) loved this place. We spent an hour and a half there, browsing through the well thought-out collections.

The staff was incredibly willing to engage with my kids when they had questions, including a man who I believe was the manager or owner sitting down with my 6 year old to answer questions about a product and helping him understand what it was demonstrating.

In addition to the incredible art supplies and games, puzzles, and other items, this is a rich bookstore with a scientific bent. If you're looking for books on scientific topics from astronomy to geology to evolution, we were impressed with the selection. Not an "intelligent design" book to be found...

We could have spent far more time there, with or without the kids. This is a must-stop location for us when we visit the Bar Harbor area.

Answer to the Last Puzzler

1) Amaranth is most broadly a plant genus that includes about 60 varieties of herbs, but the name is more commonly used for a high-protein, amino-acid-rich, iron-hearty, gluten-free pseudo-grain that was popular among the Aztecs (who thought it had supernatural powers). Amaranth has seen a resurgence in recent years because it's so nutritious. It's called a pseudo-grain because it comes from broad-leafed plants, not grasses, as grains do. Quinoa is also a pseudo-grain.
2) Guajillo is a type of chile pepper. Texas Guajillo honey, one of the competitors in this year's Naturalist's Notebook Sweet 16 Honey-Tasting Tournament, is made by placing bee hives in the middle of fields in which the peppers are grown.

Today's Puzzler

Meteorology quiz: What type of cloud formation did we see when we looked out at this scene by our house this week?