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Posts Tagged ‘solar’

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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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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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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We keep using this phrase “my green community.” By now you may be wondering, what is a green community? A green community is one that takes care of the environment. A green community provides a healthy environment for plants and animals, including people.

This definition may be sufficient for a teacher of very young students. Alternately, you may be interested in a more comprehensive look at what elements make a community truly green. For adults, one great starting point is an exhibition produced by the National Building Museum in 2008 entitled Green Community. Their website (http://www.nbm.org/exhibitions-collections/exhibitions/green-community/green-community.html) has extensive information about what a green community is and is not. This includes five categories of green and information about real places that fit into these categories.

While this is a great resource, it is designed for adults. We at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum have spent time thinking about how to take these complicated ideas and present them appropriately to children.

Here, then, are five actions that together make a community green:

Re-Invent Your City

Our city is growing! Every year, Brooklyn is home to more people. More people need more houses, more food, more everything. What do we do if we run out of space? In a green community, people think creatively about how to use space.

Example: The MTA uses a lot of power to run the subways and buses. To reduce some of their power demands, they installed solar panels on the roof of the Stillwell Avenue Terminal in Coney Island. The canopy of the station went from being wasted space, to renewable energy for the public transit system.

Travel Green

What’s the best mode of transit? You! Whether walking or biking, physical activity is good for your health and good for the planet. If you have to travel a long distance, take the bus or subway. Brooklynites are already some of the greenest people in the United States due to their massive use of public transit!

Use Less

Think of good ways to use less. Turn the lights off. Don’t leave the water running. Re-use a water bottle. Think about how to use less – less water, less plastic, less energy, less of everything!

Grow Green

Take care of the plants and parks around you. Plants are important – they provide oxygen, keep temperatures cool in the summer, provide food and shelter for animals, and look beautiful, too! Seeing nature’s green around you is a sign that you can breathe easy.

Watch Waste

What do we do with the things we don’t need anymore? Not everything needs to be thrown in the garbage. We can separate food waste and recyclables from trash that goes into landfills. Even better, we can reuse things – either reuse them ourselves or give them to somebody who wants what we don’t want anymore. After all, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure!”

To help identify instances of these five actions, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum has developed a family guide to Brooklyn that looks for evidence of green places and practices in the borough. The print guide and an accompanying online map will be available soon. What would you include in our map of Brooklyn?

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