Teaching Kids What Energy Looks Like

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For younger children, the concept of energy and electricity is challenging to understand. Showing them practical applications around our home where we live and play every day is a great place to start. Turn a light on in a room and demonstrate that energy is transmitted through wires in the walls to all the outlets and switches in the house. Let them count all the switches, and all the different places electricity comes through the home. Then demonstrate how we use the light from the light bulb, and then we conserve or save the lightbulb’s energy by making sure to turn the switches off when they are not in use. Show them where your circuit breaker is in your home (while reminding them not to touch it!), and show them the meter that measures the amount of electricity being used. This makes electricity use and conservation a little more practical for kids, especially because they can see it themselves.

For the older children, you can expand on solar power facts for kids by explaining how solar energy can provide electricity. Thousands of years ago, the sun was used by Native Americans, Chinese, Greeks and Romans to heat their homes. Today, we use solar panels to heat our homes. The solar panels are placed on the roofs of our homes and capture the sun’s energy to help provide electricity to us. With the sun’s energy, we are able to have hot water for our baths, turn the lights on at night, charge our iPads, and much more. Engage your children by asking for ideas on how solar energy could help power their schools, grocery stores and favorite restaurants. If you already power your home with renewable resources, then demonstrating the application and use of energy is even better! You can show them how your solar panels gather up all the natural energy from the sun, and how you use it for heat or energy use throughout your home. This is a great resource for kids of all ages to understand energy more in depth: http://www2.epa.gov/students.

Renewable Education

Educating our children about renewable and non-renewable sources is one of the most valuable lessons we can give them. It is vital that the future generations are clued up about the earth's dwindling resources and what they can do to help to prevent further deterioration.

 

Renewable Sources of Energy

Solar PowerSolar Power is the usable energy you can get from the sun or light.

 

Wind Power

Wind power is usually generated via wind turbines and converts wind energy into electricity.

Tidal Energy
Tidal Energy is power obtained from the movement in water caused by tides.

Wave Power
Wave power comes from the energy created by waves in the ocean, and can be used for electricity and pumping purposes.

Geothermal Power
Geothermal power comes from the heat found under the earth in volcanic regions.

Hydroelectric Power
Hydroelectric power is sourced from water driving a water turbine and generator.

Re: Reading and Recycling

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The idea of recycling or repurposing things comes naturally to young children, as most are very crafty and resourceful. Capitalize on that interest by reading them books with a recycling theme — these five present this all-important topic in a fun, colorful manner.

What Can You Do With an Old Red Shoe? by Anna Alter

Many children get really excited about completing DIY projects and reusing common household items. Empty tin cans, worn-out blankets and a lonely flip-flop can all be reinvented into new items. Parents appreciate that this book has lots of simple projects with very common items, making it relatively easy to get an activity started with on-hand materials. Even better, the finished products are things that kids are likely to want to use, such as a pillow or an apron

We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers by Lauren Child

This book follows Lola as she learns about recycling her old toys from Charlie and enters a recycling contest. Because she only has two weeks, Lola recruits her classmates at school to help win the prize, a tree. The book also contains a tree poster so kids can track their recycling progress at home. The mixed-media artwork make this Charlie and Lola adventure super cute and engaging.

Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals

This rhyming book contains delightful collage illustrations and explains how to whip up a batch of compost stew. Both of my kids were nuts over this book when they were around 3 years old (although it would be enjoyable for slightly older kids), and thankfully I liked the book enough to read it dozens of times in a week without tiring of it. This alphabet book is rhyming and has a delightful rhythm to it.

The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Alison Inches

This book follows a plastic bottle as it moves from a refinery to a manufacturing plant, a store shelf and finally the recycling facility. Sadly, the plastic bottle recycling rate in the U.S. is a mere 31 percent, so it is good that this book is encouraging recycling. Inches is the author of other environmentally minded books, including one on aluminum can recycling.

Why Should I Recycle? by Jen Green

This book has a simple, informative storyline about how recycling works as taught by a schoolteacher, Mr. Jones, on a trip to the community recycling center. The book goes beyond your typical paper, plastic and aluminum recycling and also talks about reusing things, composting food waste, recycling clothes and why it’s better to avoid disposing of items in a landfill.

Easter EGGcellent Energy tips

As we prepare to spend Passover and Easter this weekend with family and friends, it’s important to remember that extra cooking and baking can cause electric bills to go up and waste energy!

• When using an electric oven, cook as much of your meal in it at one time as possible. Foods with different cooking temperatures can often be cooked simultaneously at one temperature – variations of 25 degrees Fahrenheit in either direction still produce good results and save energy.

• Don’t open the oven door to take a peek at what’s cooking inside. Opening the oven door lowers the temperature inside by as much as 25 degrees – which increases cooking time and wastes energy. Instead, turn on the oven light to check the cooking status.

• Turn off oven/stovetops minutes before food is fully cooked. Electric ovens and stovetops retain heat even after they are turned off.

• When cooking on top of a range, match the size of the pan to the heating element. More heat will get to the pan and less will be lost to the surrounding air. A six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner will waste more than 40 percent of the energy.

• Clean stove burners and reflectors provide better heating, while saving energy. If you need new reflectors, buy quality ones. The best on the market can save as much as one-third of the energy used when cooking on top of the stove.

• Use the “lids-on” approach to cooking. Tightly fitted lids help keep heat within pots and pans, enabling you to lower the temperature settings and shorten the cooking times.

• Choose glass or ceramic pans for the oven. They allow you to set the temperature 25 degrees lower than metal pans do and will cook just as quickly.

• Use a microwave or toaster oven for those small holiday cooking tasks. A microwave uses about 50 percent less energy than a conventional oven and doesn’t heat up the kitchen. Use a slow cooker (Crock-Pot®) to cook meals, too. It can cook a whole meal for about 17 cents worth of electricity.

• Plan ahead when thawing foods. If time allows, thaw foods completely in the refrigerator before cooking. If pressed for time, it is more efficient to thaw foods in the microwave than under warm running water.

• Allow hot foods or liquids to cool off before placing them in the refrigerator. The refrigerator has to work harder to cool them off.

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Vampires and Phantoms

Vampires and Phantoms are scary, but you know what's even scarier? Vampire and Phantom Loads. Also called Leaking Electricity it happens when you leave things plugged in that are using small amounts of electricity even though they aren't doing anything. They can be found all over your house, laptops and monitors in standby mode, coffee makers, tv's in guest bedrooms, nightlights, cellphone and tablet chargers, electric toothbrush chargers, even cordless phones...seriously who has one of those? Even if your phone is fully charged, leaving it plugged in still uses electricity! Depending on how many appliances and electronics you have plugged in, Vampire Loads can add up to 10% to your electricity bill every month! Sunny the Solar Squirrel says that's a lot of acorns! You can help by unplugging seldom used things in the kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms, or using a power strip to turn off computers/monitors/fax machines...I mean really, fax machine? So be sure that Vampires don't suck your energy and your money. Get in the habit and if you have kids, teach them too, remember even the smallest effort can have a huge impact if we all pitch in.

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