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Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

One way to have less smoggy and polluted days in our future is to get our next generation of engineers, designers, and educators interested in renewable energy sources like wind. Check out this beautiful Wind Map that shows how much wind power there is at any given hour in the U.S.

Take your students outside to observe the wind! Kidswind.org offers some fun experiments for engaging kids with wind energy. See the Wind begins with a sturdy kite or large helium balloon, some streamers, and a windy day. Attach the streamers at 3 meter intervals along your kite or balloon string. Fly your kite! Students can observe and compare how the streamers close to the ground behave compared to the streamers high up near the kite. Is the wind stronger, smoother, or faster at different elevations? Why do the streamers behave differently? What does this mean for wind power?

Have your students all lay flat on the ground. Can they feel the wind? Now, what changes when they find someplace higher up to stand, like a bridge on the play ground?

How do we harness this plentiful wind?! Stay tuned for pinwheel and Wind Turbine projects.

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Public transportation is part of sustainable Brooklyn!

You’re helping the Earth every time you use your MetroCard.  Public transit uses only half the fuel a car uses per mile. For every bus, 30 to 40 fewer cars are on the road.  A packed train car carries as many people as about 100 cars!

Thanks to the MTA and New Yorkers use of public transportation, our city is one of the greenest in the world. You can use buses and subways to take you all over New York City without using a car.

Public transportation is an example of Travel Green.

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The roof of the Coney Island – Stillwell Avenue terminal is part of sustainable Brooklyn!

Next time you visit the beach, notice the solar panels on the roof of the Stillwell Avenue subway stop in Coney Island. These use the sun’s energy so the Transit Authority doesn’t have to buy as much power. It’s a creative way to use the roof space.

As your D, F, N, or Q train pulls into the station, you can see the solar panels with your own eyes. For more information, check out the MTA’s website with more information about green buildings, including Coney Island and solar panels on top of Roosevelt Avenue-74th Street Station in Queens.

This terminal roof is an example of Re-Invent Your City.

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Bike paths are part of sustainable Brooklyn!

Bikes can get you far and keep you healthy. They use muscle power instead of the fuel that powers cars. When going for a long ride for fun, use one of these scenic bike paths. You’ll be far from the cars and much safer than on the street!

The website NYC Bike Map has an online guide to all the bike paths in New York City. However, not all of them are kid-friendly. The bike paths we have marked in yellow are “greenways,” paths that are very clearly divided from the street for extra child-protection.

Bike paths are an example of Travel Green.

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Did you know that the Brooklyn Children’s Museum has solar panels? Along with the geothermal energy, the solar panels are one renewable source of energy that powers the Museum.

Solar panels work by capturing the sun’s light and turning it into electricity that can power anything you want. The sun produces enough energy in 1 minute to power the world’s energy needs for 1 year… the trick is designing solar panels that can collect all that energy.

At the Museum’s solar exhibit, children can aim a mirror to direct energy from a light source to the solar panels. The solar energy then powers dancing flower toys! Filters in front of the solar panels mimic night, clouds, and pollution, affecting the flowers.

You can find the solar exhibit on our Upper Level, just past the elephant skeleton. And if you look closely out the window from the exhibit, you can see the Museum’s real solar panels.

A rare back view of the Museum where you can see the solar panels - these ones are located outside of the Kids Cafe

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Geothermal energy is one of the cooler concepts in sustainable energy – or maybe it’s one of the hotter concepts! The idea is simple, but the way it works is complicated.

This is the actual drill bit we used to drill down to the aquifers

Basically, somewhere far below the Museum are underground aquifers (underground lakes) with water that remains about 57 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. So, we drilled a hole down to the aquifer and…

  • In the summer, the water is cooler than the hot summer air. We pump water (which is relatively cool) into the building and it cools down the air, reducing the need for air conditioning.
  • In the winter, the waster is warmer than the cold winter air. We pump the same water (relatively warm now) into the building and it warms the air, reducing the need for heating.

The energy required to use the pump is very small, so overall a good geothermal system really reduced the amount of energy you need to heat and cool a building, which is both sustainable and money-saving.

It’s a hard concept to explain to kids, so bring them to the Museum to explore our geothermal exhibit. You will find the exhibit on the Lower Level, next to Fantasia in the Science Inquiry Center.

Turning the dial changes the exhibit from winter to summer and then back

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A while ago, we mentioned the amazing resources out there from the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED). In addition to resources on teaching about types of energy and its sources, they also have resources for teaching about trash.

One page from the flip book; the following page explains paper that cannot be recycled

The Trash FlipBook is a resource designed for K-4 teachers that comprehensively explains waste and ways to reduce it. It starts with what trash it and where it goes (apparently, in the United States, 54% of waste is buried, 13% is burned, and 33% is recycled). Then, the book covers options for waste other than burying and burning (reduce, reuse, repair, compost, and recycle). The guide ends with some more advanced technical information for older students about plastics and landfill design.

A more advanced page for the interested class and teacher

Each page has an image on the front for students to view and ideas and talking points on the back for teacher use.

The Trash FlipBook is designed to be taught mostly through pictures. If you have older students (grades 3+) and would like your students to learn the same material through reading, check out Talking Trash, the upper elementary guide.

Finally, many of the NEED guides are now available in Spanish, if you have a bilingual class. The NEED materials are fantastic and free – check them out if you’re planning to teach about trash or energy!

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