Jen's MEM Journey

A Mighty Wind
by Jennifer Weiss -- December 2nd, 2011

Ah … the joy of renewable energy. Music to my ears, food for my soul … giggles in my classroom?

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m an environmental nerd.  I think renewable energy is fun.  I’m at the Nicholas School of the Environment after all.  But, despite all of our enthusiasm about renewables, to the best of my knowledge there has never been a lot of giggling in any of my classes.  At least not the contagious, “I can’t help myself” type of giggling that a group of 8 and 9 year olds can produce.  But, then again, it’s been awhile since I’ve been in third grade.

Yet giggles and excited voices were exactly what I heard when I taught my renewable energy module to my merry band of third graders.  And, yes … the kids’ enthusiasm (and giggles) were quite contagious!

It’s hard to surpass last week’s chocolate chip cookie mining exercise, but my mission was to make renewable energy just as much fun as mining for non-renewables.  And how does one top sugary snacks, you ask?   TOYS!  More specifically – Solar Race Cars and Wind Turbines. Need I say more?

Of course, like all great ideas, there are snags and set-backs.  For example, the sun wasn’t exactly cooperating on this cold and cloudy day.  So, my little solar race cars sat motionless on the sidewalk as 25 sets of eyes watched expectantly.  Oh well … time to discuss the concept of intermittency.

Luckily, the wind turbine experiment was much more effective thanks to the blowing force of … a couple of hair dryers.  Yes, I realize the irony … but in my defense, the intermittency of wind had also struck that day.  The kids didn’t seem to notice the difference.  Let the giggling begin!

All hail renewable energy – it makes classroom learning FUN!

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