In response to an invitation from a teacher at St. Maryâ€™s School, John Gillingham gave 2 x 45 minute presentations on renewable energy to year 5 and year 6; each presentation being delivered to an audience of 60 children plus teachers. Â The presentations were given to supplement lessons in renewable energy through practical demonstrations.
Below is my write up of the event.
I started the presentations by establishing their knowledge of electricity through a number of questions. They demonstrated a willingness and enthusiasm to respond; and their responses were â€˜interestingâ€™, even if I had to suppress a chuckle a few times. Â I then used a cartoon picture of a man with a hose pipe watering the garden as a simple analogy for electricity flow. This proved to be a good ploy and elicited some very sensible and mature questions (including â€œWhy doesnâ€™t a police Taser gun kill you?).
I then asked how electricity â€˜arrivedâ€™ at their houses and was particularly impressed by their answers; especially from the older group. This led on to a visualisation of the electricity supply process back to power stations and their use (mainly) of fossil fuels. This provided an opportunity to explore their understanding of fossil fuels.
As a teaching aid, I used a car battery to represent the National Grid. This was powering a projector, net book computer and sound system to simulate possible energy uses in the home, whilst the film â€˜Homeâ€™ was being shown in the background (kept the less interested ones occupied). The battery was connected to the cycle generator and 2 x portable solar panels, which I introduced as mini â€˜power stationsâ€™ connected to the â€˜National Gridâ€™ (the battery).
I produced a 60watt filament bulb and explained that the cycle generator could just about power this. This elicited many questions along the lines of â€œHow many cycles would be needed to power â€¦â€¦â€, which gave the opportunity for some spontaneous mental arithmetic; especially for â€˜How many cycles would be needed to power all the houses in a street?â€
â€˜Volunteersâ€™ were selected by the teachers to provide the energy source to the cycle generator, after which I asked them tell the other children how hard it was to produce so little energy.
I think the message got through; especially when I asked them to consider if they had to reduce the electricity consumption in their house by 50%, what would they do without?
A very rewarding experienceâ€¦â€¦..