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Posts Tagged ‘sustainable’

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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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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It’s almost the end of September and you’ve got your rules and routines in place in your classroom. What’s next? Planning a great field trip to get kids engaged in learning at a local park, zoo, or museum, for a different experience than the one they get in class!

Starting a school program in World Brooklyn

To help you plan, we would like to announce the 2011-2012 schedule of school programs at Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Programs are available for grades PK-8, focusing on either science or culture. The full list is available on our website, including instructions on how to register and cost.

Here are some highlighted programs for environmental and sustainable education:

  • Habitat Brooklyn: Amazing Arthropods (grades PK-1) — explore the amazing body structure of joint-legged creatures known as arthropods. Students conduct hands-on investigations of objects from the Museum’s collection and live specimens such as crabs, Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches, crickets, and more in the Neighborhood Nature exhibit.
  • Habitat Brooklyn: Urban Botanist (grades 2-4) — Leaves that ooze sticky glue, leaves that prick, leaves that snap shut or shy away from your touch — visit the museum greenhouse to learn about weird and wonderful ways plants have adapted to their environments. Learn what plants and animals need to grow and thrive, and build a snail habitat in the museum garden.
  • Habitat Brooklyn: Critter Comebacks (grades 5-6) — Wildlife is forced out of cities all the time, but with careful intervention, some species are starting to stage stunning comebacks in New York City.  Flex your advocacy and citizenship skills as you learn to protect salt marsh ecosystems, peregrine falcons, or horseshoe crabs.
  • Forces in Action: It’s Easy Being Green (grades 5+) — Get the inside scoop on how the first LEED-certified museum in NYC helps save energy and water. Students will enjoy an interactive scavenger hunt and activities where they learn that little steps can lead to a big difference for our environment. This program can easily be done with older students; we have had multiple high school groups come to learn about the Museum’s sustainable building.

Check out the full list of programs. We hope to see you this year at Brooklyn Children’s Museum!

Come and check out the museum! You can find us at the corner of St. Marks Ave and Brooklyn Ave in Crown Heights, Brooklyn

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This is a surprise post for any middle school teachers out there. The NY Hall of Science is releasing a new curriculum for middle school called My Carbon Footprint. To launch the curriculum, they are holding a free professional development session on Saturday, November 5th.

NY Hall of Science says: “As part of this exciting professional development workshop, you will receive a copy of the My Carbon Footprint curriculum, a one-year educator membership to NYSCI, and access to new online resources. During the workshop, you will have the chance to participate in activities from the curriculum, and have an opportunity to make connections between global climate change and topics you already teach.”

For more details and to sign up, go to their website: http://www.nysci.org/learn/education/teachers/mycarbonfootprint

Please share this resource with any middle school teachers you know – it sounds like a great workshop.

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