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Posts Tagged ‘experiment’

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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Many cities have found ways to limit the very visible form of pollution called smog (smoke+ fog= smog), but on some unfortunate days industrial and automotive  pollution can mix together with inopportune  weather conditions and form unhealthy levels of smog in the air, leaving a hazy blanket over a city. The problem intensifies in cities surrounded by mountains and on warm weather days. Smog causes harm to humans, animals, and plants.

Do this simple experiment in the classroom to see fog form in a jar! Adult supervision required!

Smog Alert!

1) Cut a strip of paper about 10 in x 1/2 in. (25cm x 1.25 cm).

2) Fold the length of the strip in half and twist the paper.

3) Make a “lid” for the glass jar by shaping a piece of aluminum foil over the open end of the jar. Take away the foil and put it aside.

4) Put some water in the jar. Swirl it around so the inside walls of the jar are wet.

5) Pour out the water. Make sure there isn’t any water pooling at the bottom of the jar.

6)  Place 3 ice cubes on top of the foil to make it cold (I used an ice pack).

7) Ask an adult to light the strip of paper. Drop it and the match into the damp jar.

8) Quickly put the foil lid on the jar and seal it tightly. Keep the ice cubes on top of the foil, in the middle.

What do you see in the jar? Have you ever seem this in the sky? Could the air still be polluted on a visibly clear day?

This offers a prime chance to discuss the deadly London smog disaster of 1952, one of the worst environmental incidents in history. During a very cold but windless week,  many Londoners burned more coal than usual to heat their homes. This pollution combined with the pollution from coal powered power stations created a thick layer of smog in the air which severely affected the respiratory tracts of many people.   The smog killed 4,000 people and shut down all road, air, and rail transportation in the city! This event would come to inspire environmental research, government regulation, and public awareness of the relationship between air quality and health. 

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If you are teaching about recycling and other forms of waste management, check out the PBS Website, which has numerous ideas for educators and parents teaching kids about waste management.

Here are some ideas you will find there:

Zoom has instructions for making your own recycled paper using simple materials. There’s nothing like a good science project to help kids really understand that an old product can be made into a new one!

For younger learners, you can start with a litter campaign. Before kids can understand trash and recycling, litter is a starting point for thinking about the idea that used items have to be gotten rid of.

Eeko World’s Garbage and Recycling page takes students through an animated waste tour. The video is long, but kid-friendly, comprehensive, and detailed. There’s a great accompanying lesson plan to sort trash from recyclables including math extensions.

For these ideas and more, check out the PBS Teachers page on recycling!

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Exciting news: by the end of this month, Brooklyn Children’s Museum will have 6 new exhibits on the floor all about sustainability here at the museum. As a cool preview, come to the museum this Sunday, December 11th for Light it Up!, a program about circuits and solar energy.

This program, appropriate for ages 4+,  lets kids experiment with circuits, conductivity, and sources of energy, using supplies found at a local hardware store. Brooklyn Children’s Museum uses solar panels for part of our energy and we want kids to really see solar panels at work!

If you can’t make it this Sunday, the program will be offered again a few times in the upcoming months, on December 26th, February 19th and February 20th.

… and don’t forget to come visit later in December to see our new museum exhibits about solar energy, the process of recycling, bamboo flooring, geothermal energy, and water conservation!

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Last week, we mentioned the Magic School Bus At the Waterworks and yesterday we featured Rain. Here are some other fantastic water books you may want to read with younger students:

Drip! Drop!: How Water Gets to Your Tap by Barbara Seulig is written for younger readers than the Magic School Bus and covers both the water cycle and a basic introduction to water purification.

Water, Water by Eloise Greenfield is written for PK students. This very simple book takes students through places they may have seen water and helps them identify just how much water can be found around them: wading, fishing, drinking, or watching water.

Water by Frank Asch is another simple and beautifully illustrated book that tells the story of the water around us from obvious examples (like rivers) to the less obvious (like clouds and dew). The book also shows water’s importance in an urban setting – putting out fires and washing cars.

I Get Wet is designed to inspire all kinds of scientific inquiry. Written for early learners, the book asks questions that require experimentation, leading students to be curious and try out the experiments the book suggests.

And that’s all for early childhood water books for today – check back later for water books for older readers. It’s rainy here in Brooklyn today – we hope these books and the Rain yesterday give you some inspirations for water-focused classroom books.

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So, last week we introduced you to Greta. This week, we’ve mentioned the amazing culture gardens and mural she worked on this spring and summer. Today, we want to share with you Greta’s latest science project.

Greta has her own blog, Brooklyn Greenhouse, that she uses to talk about what’s new in the greenhouse and garden as well as awesome things that kids say and do. Last week she wrote and fascinating entry about the red leaves of the Japanese Maple.

Greta is teaching the 2nd and 3rd graders all about plants throughout the seasons, and Greta did some research and discovered that… red leaves are an ongoing scientific mystery! There are many theories about why leaves turn red, so Greta and the students are doing an experiment to test one of the theories.

Want to find out more about leaves and this interesting red leaf theory? For more information about leaves, yellow and orange leaves, and the fascinating theory about red leaves, check out this entry on Greta’s blog!

And once you’ve learned all about the science of leaves, you can return to our fall favorite, The Little Yellow Leaf (with a guest appearance from a red leaf!).

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So, why all these recent posts about composting? Here are some reasons you might teach about decay or compost in your classroom:

  • Study of decay is great for the scientific method. Get students to ask what will happen and why, then observe, and record. Try out different decay conditions – how is decomposition affected by light, water, air?
  • It links to your science curriculum. In New York City, you could teach about decay in the context of seasonal trees (kindergarten), worm anatomy (1st grade), soil (2nd grade), plant and animal adaptations (3rd grade), etc…
  • Proper compost is used to grow new food. Teaching about compost and its role in agriculture supplements study of nutrition and gets kids involved in their food production, which in turn helps them eat healthier.
  • It prepares students to be act sustainably. Recycling is dandy, but is not the full solution to waste management. Compost eliminates organic waste from landfills, reducing their volume, and at the same time provides a free fertilizer for soil. Compost is thus a great use of resources.

These are some reasons to teach about compost. What would you add?

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