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Posts Tagged ‘energy’

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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If you are looking for a great sustainability-focused training on election day, here are two options:

School Gardening Workshop at New York Botanical Garden

8:30 am – noon; Cost: $20

Come learn about the benefits of having a garden on your school site. Join NYBG staff and other gardening organizations to learn about logistics, resources, and curriculum connections for creating, maintaining, and  integrating gardens into your students’ learning. This half-day workshop is the perfect primer for helping you begin planning or even rekindling a garden on your school site.

For more information, contact Judith Hutton, at 718.817.8140 or jhutton@nybg.org. To register, contact Registration at 718.817.8181 or school_programs@nybg.org.

4Es of Energy/Take Action at Home at Brooklyn Children’s Museum

9 am – 4 pm; Cost: free with lunch provided; for teachers of 4th to 8th grade

This interactive workshop promotes an understanding of energy’s relationship
with the environment, our economy, efficiency AND the all important “E” – education. You will use hands-on activities to explore energy forms and  sources, global climate change and actions we can take to address the energy challenges we face. Participants will walk away with both the 4Es of Energy (4th-6th) and the Take Action at Home (4th-6th) curricula.

To register, visit www.getenergysmart.org/EnergyEducation or you can call 1-877-NY-SMART (Option 6).

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum has another energy workshop coming up, this one for teachers of 6th-12th grade. This workshop, Energy and Our Changing Earth, will focus on using data to teach about climate science. Also hosted by NYSERDA, it will be held on Friday, November 11th. Call 1-877-NY-SMART (Option 6) to register.

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Really understanding energy consumption and the need for energy conservation can be hard with young learners. But it can be done! Once you’ve started by helping students identify what energy is and used some of the wonderful NEED resources for energy education, here are some supplementary enery books appropriate for students in elementary school (grades 1-5).

Why Should I Save Energy? by Jen Greene presents kids whose computer crashes due to a blackout, leading the kids to examine energy use around them in their home. They come to realize that lots of machines use energy even when humans aren’t actively using the machine.

What’s so Bad About Gasoline?: Fossil Fuels and What They Do by Anne Rockwell focuses on the potential harmful effects of oil and what objects (cars, buses, etc) use gasoline. This book will help students see just how much oil is used around them.

Alternative Energy by Christine Peterson is a great follow up; now that students know about the drawbacks of oil use, this book catalogs other options, including solar, wind, water, geothermal, and biofuels.

Generating Wind Power by Niki Walker explains how exactly wind power can be turned into electricity as well as the advantages and disadvantages of using wind power.

Solar Power by Tea Benduhn explains what solar power is, how it works, gives a little information on greenhouse gases, and then explores objects that use solar power. PS: this book is also available in a Spanish edition for any bilingual teachers out there!

Do you have any other favorite energy books?

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It’s here! Brooklyn Children’s Museum would like to present our new sustainability guide for educators, My Green Community.

The premise is simple: unfortunately, while nature is in the elementary science curriculum, other sustainability topics (energy, water conservation, food, waste management) are not. So, we tied study of community to study of environmentalism, linking social studies and science to create opportunities to introduce these key topics and to create interdisciplinary units of study.

The guide is divided into three sections: nature, sustainability, and a culminating project. The nature section deals with plants, birds, and insects. Sustainability covers energy, food, water, and waste. Finally, the culminating project is a mapping activity in which students examine their neighborhood for evidence of sustainability to decide in what ways their community is and is not green. Activities were designed for grades PK-2 but many will be applicable through middle school and even high school in some cases.

The full guide is available for download. In addition, you can attend a free professional development session as a supplement to the guide here at Brooklyn Children’s Museum on either October 20th or October 22nd. And, finally, this blog exists to supplement the guide. So if you love the Focus on Birds section in the guide, for example, click on the birds tag on the right of this page for more birds activities.

Please share this wonderful resource with your colleagues. If you have any feedback or would like to share how you are using My Green Community, contact us: gogreen@brooklynkids.org.

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Now that you’ve defined energy with your students, you might want to start introducing sources of energy. To help kids understand fossil fuels, renewable energy, and much more, turn to the resources from NEED, the National Energy Education Development Project.

A sample page from the Primary Energy Infobook

Why? Most of their resources are free. They range from Kindergarten to high school, so all teachers will benefit. The material is comprehensive and well organized. It provides a lot or support for teachers, to help the educator feel comfortable with

Some Primary (grades K-2) resources you might love:

  • Primary Energy Infobook: A well-organized, simple introduction to energy. The book covers the many types of energy and the many sources of energy in kid-friendly language. This resource is particularly good for English Language Learners (ELLs) and students with special needs.
  • A sample page from Using and Saving Energy

    Using and Saving Energy: This extensive curriculum covers energy sources, energy tasks, lighting, heating and cooling, appliances and machines, hot water, using energy, trash and energy, and saving energy. Each section has reading cards and activities for the students as well as extensive background material for teachers. This guide covers more material than the Infobook above.

  • Trash Flipbook: Covers everything you ever wanted to know about trash, including how to make less of it.
  • NEED Songbook: Songs are a great way to get kids engage and help them remember information. Check out these songs all about energy, especially “What Do You Do with an Energy Waster”

For the full list of NEED resources, go to their website!

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