Kids know

By Tom Read

Al explains how a solar thermal tube can heat water using the sun's energy, at the second annual Kids for Saving Earth Texada Day Camp. Photo: Jeffrey Weber

Al explains how a solar thermal tube can heat water using the sun's energy, at the second annual Kids for Saving Earth Texada Day Camp. Photo: Jeffrey Weber

Monday of this week I found myself seated in front of two dozen very eager six-to-twelve year old kids at the Texada Community Hall, talking about energy — what it is, why we need it, how we get it and the value of conserving it. Thus began day one of the second annual Kids for Saving Earth Texada Daycamp, or “KSE Camp,” as we’ve taken to calling it. Four more days were to follow, exploring the island’s natural environment. Photos and more can be found at

Anyway, on Monday the kids — and some teen and parent volunteers, too — learned about renewable and non-renewable energy sources. Show-and-tell included a battery-less digital electronic clock that we powered through a chemical reaction by combining salt and tap water inside a clear plastic case with two electrodes. Among other renewable energy-makers we got to see a microhydro turbine, and a brief explanation of how it works when it’s hooked up on a creek.

But the most hands-on example was provided by Al Davis, who showed us how a solar thermal tube can quickly heat water using the power of the sun.  Al started with cold tap water from the Community Hall kitchen poured into the tube, then placed it in sunlight outdoors. Forty-five minutes later he used a digital thermometer to measure a 17 degree increase in water temperature inside the tube, from 20 to 37 degrees centigrade. Everybody got to stick a finger in the tube to feel how warm the water had become in that short time. If he had waited much longer the water would have become too hot to touch.

As part of my talk I wanted to demonstrate the finite nature of oil as an energy source by using an object that would be familiar to my audience. So I held up a juice box (apple, in this case) and asked: “how is the juice in this box like oil in the Earth?”  Right away a girl in the front row shot back with the concise answer: “they’re both limited.”  Yes!

A follow-up demonstration by one of our teen volunteers, using straws to represent oil wells, showed how one will deplete one’s supply of juice (or oil) more rapidly as the number of straws/wells increases. Kids know — about the fundamental truth that non-renewable energy sources are limited, and if you want to conserve some for the future you’ve got to take sips, not ever-increasing gulps.


2 Responses to “Kids know”

  1. 1 Gian August 21, 2009 at 20:04

    This is really great! So good to read about the (crucial and under-reported)small, positive actions going on out there, everywhere.

  2. 2 Margy August 21, 2009 at 23:16

    You provide so many wonderful experiences for kids on Texada. I was able to participate this year in the Aerospace Camp and it was great how everyone turned out to give the kids a great learning experience. Looks like you have another excellent one here.

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