Best ways to teach your kids about renewable energyPaula Green
First attempts to introduce renewable energy sources date back to 19th century. They were evoked by the worries that the fossil fuels (such as coal) might run out. Today we have more menacing environmental concerns to incite us. In this light, we must do everything we can to raise awareness of the renewable energy’s possibilities. It’s better to start from our children. The future is their domain, in no time they will become the ones responsible for the Earth, and it’s our job to prepare them.
1. Raise awareness
Tell your kids about carbon dioxide emissions, explain to them how huge the issue is and what are the consequences. Make it visual: some charts and diagrams might help. Show the share of the renewable energy sources, and how they’ve grown over the years. The statistics are really reassuring!
2. Conduct experiments
To make it even more informative, show your children how things work – take them to an energy center or a research institute where they have demonstration facilities and allow visiting (maybe you can contact the school your children attend and teacher will organize a class excursion). Such things are usually really impressive and memorable. If for some reason this cannot be arranged, go for science kits for renewable energy demonstration – you can have your own little lab at home, where your children will be able to explore the nature of energy and ways it can be applied. There are even simpler options: teach them about greenhouse effect by creating your own little “greenhouse” on your window sill.
3. Make renewable energy a part of your lives
It is important that we teach our children by our own example. They shouldn't grow up with the notion that "unrenewable energy is bad, yet we still will be using it, because we can do nothing about it". We have to show them, that not only renewable energy is better for the environment and for the future where there are no fossil fuels left – it is real, powerful and makes us independent. Install at least some small solar panels in your backyard to power lights in the garden or on your porch. Use turbine tower to pump the water for your lawn – anything, however insignificant it may seem. Maybe even a little trifle like a solar powered calculator or a toy on the mantelpiece that reacts to the light with movement will be enough to kindle the interest. Your children should see alternative energy as a part of their everyday life, something natural and tangible, not only a beautiful concept. Find information about new projects of passive/active houses (maybe you will consider moving to one of those) or places where efforts to produce 100% energy from the renewable sources succeeded – inspire them.
This can be a good opportunity to visit places, where renewable energy programs came to life. You may want to see dams of hydropower plants or wind farms – they are tremendous and rightly seen as tourist attractions. The power and beauty of nature's forces are impressive, use them to make a point. Travel to a waterfall together with your family, climb a mountain. A view of the distant city under the haze of smog can also be revealing, for that matter. Broaden your horizon – it has a marvelous side-effect of broadening one’s mind and making room for the vision.
5. Prevent wastage of energy
This is an important one: mindless exploitation of the easily available fuels brought us where we are now. Teach your kids the basics of energy saving: switching the lights and fans off when the room is empty, not using air conditioning when airing the room, using LPG and pressure cookers, riding a bicycle for short distances, public transport over personal cars, energy efficient light bulbs, etc. Discuss the mindful utilization of household appliance and electronics. Maybe you should consider blocking some of the games and applications on phones and tablets to prevent your children from using them 24/7. You can use parental controls for these purposes. Saving water and segregating wastes are also ought to be on the agenda – it’s all about consistency.
When I was in middle school, we often had lessons devoted to ecological problems, we were assigned with projects on renewable sources and non-waste industry. Yet it all seemed so vague and unrealistic, the share of solar and wind power plants so laughable, and all the effo
rts so futile. It seemed I can do nothing – only -the scientists could make a difference with some kind of breakthrough discovery. I want my children to percept it differently – I want them to take responsibility for their personal carbon footprint, I want them to be equipped to minimize it. They must know that their choices count.