Nature Net News
Your source for tips and tricks for exploring nature with your kids
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"The sunshine that strikes American roads each year contains more energy than all the fossil fuels used by the entire world."
Denis Hayes, Earth Day Co-Founder
As Nature Net members focus on all things green in April, this issue of Nature Net News will highlight clean, green, renewable energy. Learn about energy's past, present and future, and the overlap between energy and nature.
Kathe, Brenna & Sarah
The Folks at Nature Net
Did You Know.....
Green energy sources, such as solar power, hydropower and wind power are not only renewable, but they are also low- or non-polluting. Their supplies are essentially infinite (at least during the lifespan of Earth and its Sun), and they emit very little carbon or pollution as they harness and produce energy. Along with these benefits, the positive or negative environmental consequences related to their production and structural impacts must also be considered. For example, dams may disrupt fish migration but may also create wildlife habitat. Wind turbines might affect bird migration and flight paths, and solar panels require resource extraction to produce. Yet the overall benefits of these natural energy sources make them options for those concerned with safe, clean and renewable energy.
What to Do This Month:
Many Nature Net sites harness green energy on-site, such as the solar panels on the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, the alternative energy demonstrations on the Madison Children's Museum's Rooftop Ramble, and solar panels at the Henry Vilas Zoo. Also be sure to check out Nature Net's Earth Day Bouquet for a listing of events and programs going on this month in celebration of spring, Earth Day and National Environmental Education Week. Visit these sites and others, and keep an eye out for signs of green energy in use around the community.
Tricks of the Trail for Parents:
Energy in the Air
Seasonal changes are a great time to observe the energy flowing in nature. Be sure to head outside and take note on the sunny or windy days of spring! Wind is produced when warmer air displaces cooler air, bringing with it energy from the Sun. You can also feel this energy when you sit outside on a sunny day - the warmth on your skin is thermal energy from the Sun. Modern wind and solar power technologies capture the Sun's energy and use it to produce electricity.
Instant Outdoor Expert:
Green Power in the Past
You probably hear of green energy technology advances just about everyday. What will the brilliant scientists of this generation think of next?
Yet capturing the energy found in nature isn't exactly a new idea. Humans have been using energy from sunlight for millennia, to warm their homes, grow their food, heat their water, and light their days. From sailing, to clothes drying, to natural air conditioners, humans have also been using wind power for thousands of years. Windmills have been used for pumping water and milling grain since the 7th Century C.E. And the first electricity-producing windmill was actually created in the 1890s! Hydropower has also been used for transportation and milling, and humans have nearly always found ways to keep warm with the heat from inside the Earth (geothermal energy). Green energy holds a lot of potential for our future, but its fundamentals have been around forever - something to think about while you appreciate the warm sunlight and cool breezes this season!
Featured Nature Net Site
Learn About Other Nature Net sites
Celebrate the Sun and the Wind!
What you need: sheet of yellow foam (or sturdy paper), stapler, glitter glue, yarn, hole punch, paper streamers.
1. Draw a Sun shape on the foam and cut it out.
2. Decorate your Sun with glitter glue, markers or anything else you prefer.
3. When glue is dry, staple streamers to the bottom half of your Sun.
4. Punch a hole in the top of the Sun and put your yarn through it as a hanger.
5. Hang your art so it can sparkle in the sunlight and will be certain to catch a good breeze!
(Nature Craft from The Idea Box)
Nature Craft Archives
"New Energy Sources (Saving Our World)" by Nigel Hawkes (4-8)
"Why Should I Save Energy?" by Jen Green (4-8)
"Saving Energy (Help Our Environment)" by Charlotte Guillain (4-8)
"Our Earth: Saving Energy" by Peggy Hock (4-8)
"Catch the Wind" by Anne Johnson, Ashley Reichow, Robyn Johnson, Tom Wacker (4-8)
"What in the World is Green Energy?" by Oona Gaarder-Juntti (4-8)
"A HOT Planet Needs Cool Kids" by Julie Hall (4-8)
"How to Harness Solar Power for Your Home" by Stephanie Bearce (9-12)
"Rads, Ergs, and Cheeseburgers" by Bill Yanda (9-12)
"Using Alternative Energies" by Courtney Farrell (9-12)