Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Finding The Energy

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Finding The Energy

Invention, innovation, and creativity power our country and have made the United States an example for the world to follow. Someone is reputed to have said in 1899 that “Everything that can be invented has been.” We now know that our world is limitless—except when it comes to energy to power our inventions. Now we’ve got to find more energy.

In our daily lives we have moved toward conservation and using renewable energy as much as possible. Alternative energy sources like wind and solar are constantly being sought. We’ve been here before as a county during the eighties, but we seemed to lose our motivation then. This time, there are so many countries competing for energy that our efforts must become more serious.

Here’s where the kids come in. Since they are natives in the world of technology, and adults are usually just visitors, we must educate them to explore the possibilities. Their knowledge and understanding of science will be critical in the creation of new sources.

Port Discover will offer several opportunities for kids to develop a vision of the energy world of tomorrow. On May 26 Dr. Althea Bluilett, assistant professor of physics at Elizabeth City State University, will teach a program on alternative energy. Students will observe simple motors and generators in action and work in groups to build an alternative energy motor for display.

In the new “Kids Grow Garden” behind the center, a watering system using rain water collected in barrels and powered by the sun has been installed by Solar Garden Sitter. The company based in Edenton and created by Gary and Joan Lee proclaims that it is the only solar powered programmable rain barrel irrigation system available.

Port Discover will benefit from this innovation as well as have an opportunity to teach visitors about the concepts involved. During a one inch rain more than 700 gallons of water runs off the average roof. That’s enough to supply 17 baths or 58 showers.

Kids can be focused when they want to be. When I wanted to create a habit of fastening my seatbelt, I told my young son he could have all the change in my purse if he caught me unbuckled. It didn’t take long for me to cultivate the habit.

If you want to get motivated about energy conservation and use, involve your children by having them do things like make energy posters reminding family members to conserve. Encourage them to be the switch police for the family, monitor the doors being closed, turn the water off when brushing their teeth, and take showers instead of baths.

Have them come up with their own ideas, and then see if the electric and water bill change. Put them in the position of responsibility and power. It could be a great authentic learning experience for the whole family this summer and a money saver too. They will learn about science and economics at the same time, and you will prosper from both.

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