For our Grade 5 Science unit "Conservation of Energy and Resources," we read background information, watched educational videos, completed home energy surveys, and engaged in some fun hands-on learning.
Our first hands-on energy lab. was an outdoor demonstration of two renewable energy devices:
- a small photoelectric solar panel that converts light from the sun into electricity to charge batteries;
- a "biofuel" camp stove that converts heat from fire into electricity, to run an internal fan and to charge electronic devices.
Our second energy lab. had the class using wattage meters to determine how much energy a variety of small household appliances consume. Students found some of the results quite surprising. Many tended to overestimate the consumption of electronic devices, such as radios, pencil sharpeners and computers, while underestimating the consumption of heat-producing devices such as space heaters, toasters and blow dryers. Students were also surprised to find that the incandescent bulb that drew 60 watts of energy gave off the same amount of light as the compact fluorescent bulb that consumed 12 watts and the LED bulb that drew just 9 watts.
Through this energy lab., we learned that "wattage" is not the whole story. A device that consumes a great deal of energy but is only used for a few minutes at a time, such as a blow dryer, can actually use less energy per month than a lower-wattage television that is used for many hours each day. The same principal applies to large household appliances, which we explored using Hydro One's Appliance Calculator:
Our third energy lab. involved the construction of several types of solar ovens, and then testing them outdoors. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. The best day that week, the sky was partly cloudy. However, students did observe slightly higher temperatures in their devices when the sun was not obscured by clouds.
As a writing assignment, students wrote lab. reports detailing their solar device experiments.
Students enjoyed the opportunity to learn about energy use and alternative energy technology through hands-on projects. Their next step will be to consider how our class can encourage greater conservation of energy and resources, at home and school.
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