Energy Conservation: Easy Experiments To Teach Your Kids

With the rapid depletion of conventional sources of energy, we need to do our bit to save natural resources. These experiments will help your child understand the importance of energy conservation.

By Ashwin Lobo

Energy Conservation: Easy Experiments To Teach Your Kids

Today, the world uses vast amounts of energy for meeting its needs, from growing food to running industries to providing transportation and much more. Without energy, in the modern age, life would come to a standstill. And, this energy requirement of ours is met by conventional sources of energy, which are non-renewable and are depleting fast. This is most unfortunate. According to a study by Fathima et al, ‘Problems in Conventional Energy Sources and Subsequent Shift to Green Energy’, published in the International Journal of Innovative Research in Science, Engineering and Technology (2014), "In India alone the known deposits of petroleum are envisaged to last only a few decades, whereas coal reserves will last for just another hundred years."

Technological advancements in the last century made access to non-renewable sources of energy like coal, oil and natural gas easy. However, the process of extraction and use of these resources have also contributed to climate change and pollution. According to the US Energy Information Administration:

  • Carbon-dioxide released from burning fossil fuels causes greenhouse effect
  • Sulphur dioxide produced from burning fuels and smelting causes acid rain, which is harmful to plants and to animals
  • Nitrogen oxides emitted from burning fossil fuels, adds to the ground level ozone, which also harms the lungs
  • Release of heavy metals like mercury during extraction of fuels, damages human and animal health

Energy conservation is the way to go

The increasing awareness about the damage being caused to the environment by the reckless use of non-renewable sources of energy is prompting the world to address the situation. An important step in this direction was to declare 14 December as World Energy Conservation Day.

While adults are doing their bit to conserve energy and save the environment, it is time that we also made children our partners in this endeavour. One of the ways to do this is to encourage our children to become more conscious consumers of energy. An interesting and effective way to start is by working with children on some fun and simple energy conservation experiments at home. Here are three experiments you can do with your child to help her become a more efficient energy user:

1) Solar oven

Lesson: This is a great way to teach your child about solar energy and introduce him to no-fire cooking.

Materials you need

  • Empty pizza box (ensure you clean it before using)
  • Plastic sheet
  • Aluminium foil
  • Pencil
  •  Sticking tape
  • Scissors

Making the oven

  1. Close the pizza box. On the lid, make cuts on three sides to create a flap that can be lifted. These cuts should be such that they leave a 1-inch border at the edges of the lid.
  2. Take the plastic sheet and using the tape stick it on the underside of the lid using some tape. This is to trap heat inside the box.
  3. Now, line the inside of the box with the aluminium foil. Stick the foil on the underside of the flap as well. Your solar oven is ready.
  4. Hold the lid open with a pencil standing vertically. You can even ask your little one to hold it open as you put something in the oven to cook.
  5. Put some food inside (on top of the plastic sheet). Nachos topped with grated cheese work well for this oven.
  6. Remove the pencil, close the lid and place the solar oven in a sunny spot so that the food can cook.
  7. Check back after a while and see if your food is ready. 
  8. Once done, remember to recycle the oven and materials you’ve used!

2) Windmill

Lesson: A popular pick for science fairs, this experiment will teach your child how to harness the wind to generate power.

Materials you need

  • 10 wooden craft sticks
  • Wood glue
  • Empty paper towel roll
  • Piece of cardboard
  • A nail

Making the windmill

  1. Using the wood glue, stick four wooden craft sticks (side by side) to make the base of the windmill. 
  2. Glue the empty paper towel roll onto the base to create the tower of the windmill.
  3. Leave one inch from the top of the paper towel roll and push the nail into the roll to make a hole. Turn and twist the nail a few times to create a large enough hole to allow the windmill shaft to spin.
  4. Cut the piece of cardboard into a circle of about three inches diameter. Use the glue to stick this circle to the head of the nail. To make the blades, glue six of the wooden craft sticks on to this circle.
  5. Cut out the bits of cardboard in between the blades.
  6. Place the windmill in front of a portable fan. Switch on the fan to check whether the windmill works. If you don't have a portable fan, you can even spin the blades with your hand.

3) Wind car

Lesson: This is a simple educational toy, which will help your child understand how wind can be used as a power tool.

Materials you need

  • An 8”×5” foam board with a slit cut into the centre
  • Two vertical 5-inch drinking straws
  • Two 8-inch straight wooden sticks
  • One large craft stick
  • Four Bottle caps of equal size
  • Triangular piece of paper
  • Stickers
  • Sticking tape
  • Clay or play dough

Making the car

  1. Decorate the foam board with stickers or paint to make it as colourful as possible.
  2. Stick the drinking straws to two ends of the foam board.
  3. Now slide the wooden sticks through the straws. Make sure that the sticks protrude from both ends of the straws.
  4. Make holes at the centre of each of the bottle caps so that they can function as the wheels of the car.
  5. Slide the wooden sticks through the holes in the centre of the bottle caps. Apply clay balls to the end of the sticks to prevent the wheels from falling out.
  6. Glue the craft stick to a triangular piece of paper to make a sail like that of a boat. Stick the sail to the foam board.
  7. Get your child to blow at the sail and watch the car as it moves forward, powered by nothing but air.

Working together with your child on experiments like these is a great way to bond with him and teach him the importance of energy conservation. Doing experiments together also provides the perfect opportunity to explain to your child about alternative sources of energy.

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