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Posts Tagged ‘kiosk’

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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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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What happens to a can or bottle after you recycle it? The recycling exhibit here at the Museum aims to answer that question.

The right half of the exhibit shows recycling stories. Spin the blocks to complete the stories – turning a recycled can into a bike, a recycled pair of jeans into insulation, and a recycled tire into playground surface.

When the steps are in the right order, the original image lights up to show that it has been recycled. In the picture on the right, this boy and his father have finished the middle story and the jeans are lit up!

The left half of the exhibit talks about recycling at the Museum. Did you know that the boardwalk in the beach in Neighborhood Nature isn’t made of wood? It’s actually recycled plastic bottles! Touch the boardwalk the next time you’re here and you might just be able to feel it! Come to the recycling exhibit to learn other unusual recycling stories.

You can find the recycling exhibit in World Brooklyn, across from the International Grocery Store.

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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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Did you know that the upstairs floors and the staircases at Brooklyn Children’s Museum are made from bamboo?

Why did we choose bamboo? It’s a renewable resource – bamboo plants grow to full height in only 6 years. They can be harvested and replanted in a fraction of the time it takes hardwood trees to grow.

Our new bamboo exhibit at the Museum explains this to children. At the exhibit you can spin a zoetrope, measure yourself against bamboo, feel bamboo samples, and watch a video of bamboo boards being made!

You can find this new exhibit on the 2nd floor, near the elephant skeleton. And yes, when you are standing at the bamboo exhibit, the ground below you is made of bamboo!!

These girls are spinning the zoetrope to animate pictures that show the relative growth of bamboo and a hardwood tree

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We have exciting news: our Green Threads exhibits are open and ready for business!

This blog is part of a large, sustainability project here at Brooklyn Children’s Museum. In addition to Teach Green in Brooklyn and My Green Community, our education department has been hard at work on public and school programs about sustainability. In addition, we have been hard at work on new exhibits about sustainability.

The first exhibit is the Green Tour in our lobby. The kiosk features information about the other exhibits, sustainability at Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and other web-based resources.

The other five exhibits explain bamboo floors, geothermal energy, recycling, solar energy, and water conservation. Check back over the next two weeks for information about each new exhibit.

And don’t forget to come to Brooklyn Children’s Museum to see them for yourself!

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We have featured books about recycling, composting, and garbage in the past. Today’s book is about another form of waste management – reuse!

The Dumpster Diver by Janet S. Wong is the story of Steve the electrician and the kids who live in his building. Steve goes dumpster diving on a regular basis – he climbs into dumpsters and explores them to find salvageable items. Then, he and the kids fix these unwanted items up in creative ways.

One day, Steve gets hurt while dumpster diving and the kids come up with an idea – they go to every apartment in the building and ask for unwanted items BEFORE they end up in the dumpster.

This book does not glorify dumpster diving. Rather, it is designed to get kids thinking – is the thing I am throwing away really trash? Can it be fixed? Can it be turned into something new?

After reading The Dumpster Diver with students, have that conversation – what can I do with my waste rather than putting it in the trash?

At the end of the conversation, you might want to organize a swap exchange in your clas, where each kid brings in an unwanted book or toy and trades it with a classmate. You could work with the Parent Coordinator to organize a school-wide swap or participate in a Stop N’Swap.

The goal here is to get kids and adults thinking about ways to use their waste to prevent it from becoming trash… after all, one kid’s trash is another kid’s treasure!

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We have already offered suggestions for books about recycling and composting. Here are some ideas for books about garbage as well as other forms of waste disposal:

Smash! Mash! Crash! There Goes the Trash! by Barbara Odanaka is a rhyming book for early childhood. The book follows the men (in this case actually pigs) who pick up the trash and just how much of a mess their job is. This book is an appropriately silly introduction to where trash goes for young children.

For a non-fiction option, try Garbage Trucks by Marlene Targ Brill. The book explains the parts of a garbage truck, what it does, how it works, and gives facts about garbage. It’s a simple book as an introduction for your students.

Where Does the Garbage Go? by Paul Showers follows the garbage beyond the truck, looking at the landfill, the incinerator, and the recycling center. The book also covers reducing waste and ocean dumping, a process kids may know little about but are likely to have strong feelings about.

Loreen Leedy’s The Great Trash Bash is set in Beaston, where the animals have a problem – trash everywhere. Mayor Hippo visits the town dump, incinerator, and landfill and learns about the pros and cons of each, before investigating other options like recycling.

For experiments, check out Garbage and Recycling: Environmental Facts and Experiments by Rosie Harlow and Sally Morgan. The book could be read independently by upper elementary students or could be a reference manual for teachers and parents, both for content information about waste and for experiments to do with children.

Do you have any other favorite garbage books?

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So, for the past two weeks we have been talking about what to do with waste to avoid trashing it – you can reduce, reuse, recycle, compost, and mulch. But, eventually, some things are just plain trash.

To help kids get engaged in the need to avoid trash, it’s important to talk about where trash ends up… everything you put in a garbage bin eventually gets picked up by a garbage truck and from there taken to a landfill. Landfills are big places – and big is a hard idea for kids to imagine.

… so instead of starting with a landfill, start with the waste generated in your classroom in only one day.

Give each student a plastic bag and tie one end of it to their belt loops (have some lengths of string available in case they don’t have loops). For an entire day, have them throw everything they would normally put in the trash, recycling, or compost bin into the plastic bag. Do throw away smelly items and have students draw a picture of those items and keep the pictures in the plastic bag (e.g., a picture of an apple instead of carrying around the apple core).

At the end of the day, have each student dump the items out on a surface in the classroom. Have each student tally, list or draw the waste they generated. In addition to counting items, you could weigh, graph, or measure your waste in other ways. Once finished, pile all the waste from the entire class together and hold a class meeting. What will happen to these things when we really throw them away? Do students think they have generated a lot of waste or very little? Is there any way to make less waste tomorrow?

By now, students may already know about compost and recycling… finish the activity by asking – what happens to the things that can neither be recycled nor composted?

Use an image like the one below from Managua, Nicaragua to explain where trash ends up (click it for a higher resolution image).

CHURECA7The combination of collecting their own trash and this image should help students better understand trash and landfills. Check back in the next few days for more activities designed to do just that.

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Compost!

Back in October, we talked a lot about compost, but since it’s such an important part of waste management, there’s no harm in talking about it again.

Compost makes for happy worms!

Composting is the process of taking unwanted organic material, allowing it to decompose, and then using the decomposed soil as a great fertilizer for your garden or farm.

The idea is to take unwanted items — a rotten tomato, a banana peel — that would otherwise end up in a landfill and put it to productive use. In other words, composting helps take waste and use it to create great soil, which will then be used to grow new food.

For more information about the science and sustainability of compost and about composting with kids, check out our previous posts on the subject, all tagged as compost.

By the way, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum is closed tomorrow (December 25th) but open again on Monday (December 26th). Teach Green in Brooklyn will be back on December 28th with more great information about waste and what to do with it.

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