When Brooklyn Children’s Museum was renovated in 2008, all new bathrooms were fitted with low-flow water features. In fact, our boy’s bathrooms even have completely waterless urinals!
The water conservation exhibit helps kids understand the need for low flow by talking about just how much water is used by common features. Kids turn a know, pull a lever, or press a button and find out how much water is used by a bath or a shower.
One popular comparison is between an open fire hydrant and a fire hydrant with a sprinkler cap. The former (displayed on the left) uses a shocking 1,000 gallons per minute of water! That is so much water that it is both wasteful and dangerous – this much water causes decreased water pressure to nearby buildings, a problem in the case of a real fire.
To prevent this problem, you can go to your neighborhood firehouse and ask them to install a sprinkler cap (displayed on the right). Hydrants with sprinkler caps use only 15 gallons of water per minute, a huge reduction.
To learn more, check out the water conservation exhibit, on the Lower Level, across from Fantasia in the Science Inquiry Center.
Did you know that the Brooklyn Children's Museum has solar panels? Along with the geothermal energy, the solar panels are one renewable source of energy that powers the Museum.
Solar panels work by capturing the sun's light and turning it into electricity that can power anything you want. The sun produces enough energy in 1 minute to power the world's energy needs for 1 year… the trick is designing solar panels that can collect all that energy.
At the Museum's solar exhibit, children can aim a mirror to direct energy from a light source to the solar panels. The solar energy then powers dancing flower toys! Filters in front of the solar panels mimic night, clouds, and pollution, affecting the flowers.
You can find the solar exhibit on our Upper Level, just past the elephant skeleton. And if you look closely out the window from the exhibit, you can see the Museum's real solar panels.
A rare back view of the Museum where you can see the solar panels - these ones are located outside of the Kids Cafe
What happens to a can or bottle after you recycle it? The recycling exhibit here at the Museum aims to answer that question.
The right half of the exhibit shows recycling stories. Spin the blocks to complete the stories – turning a recycled can into a bike, a recycled pair of jeans into insulation, and a recycled tire into playground surface.
When the steps are in the right order, the original image lights up to show that it has been recycled. In the picture on the right, this boy and his father have finished the middle story and the jeans are lit up!
The left half of the exhibit talks about recycling at the Museum. Did you know that the boardwalk in the beach in Neighborhood Nature isn't made of wood? It's actually recycled plastic bottles! Touch the boardwalk the next time you're here and you might just be able to feel it! Come to the recycling exhibit to learn other unusual recycling stories.
You can find the recycling exhibit in World Brooklyn, across from the International Grocery Store.
Geothermal energy is one of the cooler concepts in sustainable energy – or maybe it's one of the hotter concepts! The idea is simple, but the way it works is complicated.
This is the actual drill bit we used to drill down to the aquifers
Basically, somewhere far below the Museum are underground aquifers (underground lakes) with water that remains about 57 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. So, we drilled a hole down to the aquifer and…
In the summer, the water is cooler than the hot summer air. We pump water (which is relatively cool) into the building and it cools down the air, reducing the need for air conditioning.
In the winter, the waster is warmer than the cold winter air. We pump the same water (relatively warm now) into the building and it warms the air, reducing the need for heating.
The energy required to use the pump is very small, so overall a good geothermal system really reduced the amount of energy you need to heat and cool a building, which is both sustainable and money-saving.
It's a hard concept to explain to kids, so bring them to the Museum to explore our geothermal exhibit. You will find the exhibit on the Lower Level, next to Fantasia in the Science Inquiry Center.
Turning the dial changes the exhibit from winter to summer and then back
Did you know that the upstairs floors and the staircases at Brooklyn Children's Museum are made from bamboo?
Why did we choose bamboo? It's a renewable resource – bamboo plants grow to full height in only 6 years. They can be harvested and replanted in a fraction of the time it takes hardwood trees to grow.
Our new bamboo exhibit at the Museum explains this to children. At the exhibit you can spin a zoetrope, measure yourself against bamboo, feel bamboo samples, and watch a video of bamboo boards being made!
You can find this new exhibit on the 2nd floor, near the elephant skeleton. And yes, when you are standing at the bamboo exhibit, the ground below you is made of bamboo!!
These girls are spinning the zoetrope to animate pictures that show the relative growth of bamboo and a hardwood tree
We have exciting news: our Green Threads exhibits are open and ready for business!
This blog is part of a large, sustainability project here at Brooklyn Children's Museum. In addition to Teach Green in Brooklyn and My Green Community, our education department has been hard at work on public and school programs about sustainability. In addition, we have been hard at work on new exhibits about sustainability.
The first exhibit is the Green Tour in our lobby. The kiosk features information about the other exhibits, sustainability at Brooklyn Children's Museum, and other web-based resources.
The other five exhibits explain bamboo floors, geothermal energy, recycling, solar energy, and water conservation. Check back over the next two weeks for information about each new exhibit.
And don't forget to come to Brooklyn Children's Museum to see them for yourself!
Are you interested in teaching kids more about food, gardening, and cooking at your school? One option is to become an Edible Schoolyard site. The program, started by Alice Waters, turns open space at schools into gardens, and then teaches the students at the school about growing, cooking, and eating food on site.
What can your students learn by growing and eating fresh food like these tomatoes?
So far, Edible Schoolyard has one location in NYC: PS 216, right here in Brooklyn. But they are looking to expand, and plan to have one school in each borough next school year.
That’s where you come in. If you work at a public school located in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens or Staten Island, you could apply. Your school must serve, at a minimum, kindergarten through fifth grade and be a Title I school. Accepted schools receive tons of help and resources to turn their available space into a teaching garden.
Are you looking for ways to re-invigorate your teaching? There are lots of great options for professional development this winter! Check out these workshops that will help you add a sustainable focus to your classroom:
Environmental Explorations NYC at Van Cortlandt Park
This program uses hands-on activities to bring NYC’s local outdoor resources and nature into the classroom and enhance classroom learning. Materials covered include Project WILD, Project WET, Project Learning Tree and more, in addition to introducing teachers to local environmental resources. Teachers will be provided with new strategies for introducing environmental topics in connection with math, literacy, and art, fostering student leadership and developing higher order thinking skills.
The program is from February 20 to February 25, 2012. To register, visit the After School Professional Development’s website at http://schools.nyc.gov/Teachers/aspdp and view their spring course catalog. With questions, contact Sara Kempton, Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, 718-601-1553 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creative Infusion: The Art of Reuse at Materials for the Arts
Materials for the Arts is an amazing warehouse of art supplies in Queens. This course, which offers P-credits, gives you access to the warehouse and teaches you how to problem solve through reuse and how to create games, books, costumes and sets, puppets, and mosaics. The course incorporates literacy and math into activities. The program takes place over 6 Saturdays. For details and information about registration and fees, check out their website.
If you have been teaching about waste management and would like a fun game to help kids understand, check out Landfill Bill!
Landfill Bill is a very simple game where waste materials come down the conveyor belt and Bill has to throw them to the correct bin: glass, plastic, paper, or metal. It is a surprisingly addictive yet very simple game. After students play it, here are some talking points:
Were any of the items coming down the conveyor belt trash? (no)
Were you surprised by any of the items that Bill recycled? Do you usually put those items in the trash? What could you do with them next time?
What happens if Bill didn’t recycle fast enough? (the items ended up in the landfill)
What happens when the landfill gets too full? (the game ends; there is no more space for any kind of waste)
While the game does not make this explicit, the whole point of recycling is to find a better use for waste than the landfill. Proper recycling keeps items out of the landfill, extending their life, and reducing the need for new landfills. Playing Landfill Bill is an engaging way to introduce that idea to your students!
The NYC DOE Sustainability Initiative’s goal is to double the recycling rate by 2013. Recycling Champions is here to help schools exceed that goal. The turnkey resources available on this site are a result of our hands-on involvement with faculty, administration, students, custodians, and parents.