Hudson Elementary Students Expend Some Energy to Learn a Lesson in Energy Conservation
The fifth-graders at Hudson Elementary recently learned a real life STEM lesson from SRP about energy usage and conservation that could help their school, and their parents, save money.
On September 10, SRP Powering Our Future Energy Education brought their energy bikes and presented to the three fifth-grade classes to demonstrate the importance of energy conservation and renewable energy.
SRP discussed the difference between energy and electricity and static electricity and current electricity. Students learned that there are two types of natural resources: renewable and nonrenewable. Renewable resources like solar energy, wind energy, and hydropower regenerate themselves and can be used over and over, but nonrenewable resources like fossil fuels, coal, and gas you can’t use again and are in limited supply.
Energy transformation is the process of changing energy from one form to another, like chemical into thermal into mechanical into radiant energy.
Through a live demonstration, the students learned about energy transformation by taking turns riding a stationary bike. The resistance level (or how difficult it was to pedal the bike) directly correlated to the amount of energy that is required to provide electricity to different items, from LED (light-emitting diode), CFL (compact fluorescent), and traditional incandescent light bulbs to blow dryers, fans, and air conditioners.
Students learned that different items in their house take different amounts of energy to power them. When they rode the bike, for example, it was a lot harder to pedal when it was trying to provide power for traditional incandescent light bulbs, the fan, and the blow dryer than it did for the CFL or LED light bulbs.
This demonstration really helped students understand firsthand how much more energy it takes to power certain things than others. They had to keep pedaling and pedal harder just to keep the appliances going.
The things we use every day in our homes and at school take a lot of electricity and energy transformation. Many people don’t know that a lot of things use electricity all the time, whenever they are plugged in, whether they are turned on or not.
Coal is the number one nonrenewable natural resource used for energy. It takes millions of years to make it.
“The fact that coal is over 250 million years old and is created by dead vegetation and the fossils of animals compacted through pressure blew my students’ minds!” said Fifth-Grade Teacher Amie Poletski. “The kids came to the realization that we cannot make more coal in the immediate future, which is what makes it a nonrenewable resource, and this really upset them,” she added.
One pound of coal runs a TV for 7.5 hours. The average home uses 9,000 pounds of coal each year, the size of an elephant. And our air conditioners are the biggest energy hogs.
Burning coal in order to convert it into energy also contributes to global climate change. This means temperatures are going up in all countries every year. Ice is melting at high rate. Weather patterns are changing and have a dramatic effect on plants and animals. Scientists are working hard to fix this, and SRP is committed to using renewable resources and educating people about the importance of all of this as well.
SRP offered some great advice for the students and teachers:
• Turn off the lights, computer, TV, and gaming devices when you aren’t using them.
• Close blinds and shades, so the air conditioning doesn’t have to work as hard.
• Keep your thermostat at 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter.
• Turn off fans when you are not in the room. They really don’t cool down the temperature, they just move the air around so it feels cooler.
• Decide what you want before opening fridge.
• Don’t leave doors open.
When asked what she learned from the energy bike demonstration, Fifth-Grader Lilith Brooks replied, “I learned how important it really is to save energy and turn off lights when you leave a room.”
How did the students think they would use what they learned? “I’m going to tell my parents to put the AC on 78 and heat on 68,” said Isaiah Herrera, fifth-grade student.
We all can do our part in energy conservation. You, too, can make a difference every day!