Doable Renewables: 16 Alternative Energy Projects for Young Scientists

Overview

Humankind needs to find and develop alternative forms of energy. As the world’s population continues to grow, more people will need access to lighting, communication, transit, and computing. Fossil fuels are being used up at an alarming pace, but other energy sources--solar, wind, waves, “waste” heat, and even human power--are both renewable and environmentally friendly. The projects in this book will help any budding scientist construct and explore working models that generate renewable, alternative energy.

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Overview

Humankind needs to find and develop alternative forms of energy. As the world’s population continues to grow, more people will need access to lighting, communication, transit, and computing. Fossil fuels are being used up at an alarming pace, but other energy sources--solar, wind, waves, “waste” heat, and even human power--are both renewable and environmentally friendly. The projects in this book will help any budding scientist construct and explore working models that generate renewable, alternative energy.

            In Doable Renewables, readers will learn how to build a Kelvin water drop generator out of six recycled cans and alligator clip jumpers, a solar-powered seesaw from a large dial thermometer and a magnifying glass, and a windmill from eight yardsticks, PVC pipe, cardboard, and converter generator. Children will investigate the energy-generating properties of a solar cell, a radiometer, a Nitinol heat engine, and a Peltier cell. They’ll even build a human-powered desk lamp.

            Each project includes a materials and tools list, as well as online information on where to find specialized components. And for young scientists, author Mike Rigsby demonstrates how to use an infrared thermometer, a digital multimeter, and an electrical usage monitor to test their designs. Armed with this collection of technological possibilities, can the solution to the earth’s energy crisis be far off?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The focus on the hot topic of renewable energy . . . makes this a timely resource."  —Booklist

Children's Literature - Amy S. Hansen
Understanding the basics of renewable energy has never been so important. These projects, while not simple, are as the title says, "doable" for young engineers. The hands-on approach to understanding science goes a long way to getting the basics ingrained in young and older brains alike. The projects start with a simple heat engine. With the heat sources of a desk lamp, the cardboard engine will rotate. While the heat, in this case, is from an electrical lamp, Rigsby later shows the same principal with a solar heat source. He recommends purchasing some of the components and provides online resources. Exploring the various ways of capturing energy with these tools is fascinating and a marvelous resource for kids who are ready to stop "just reading" about renewable energy and try some systems out. Projects include: a Nitinole Spring Wheel, solar drinking bird, solar seesaw, windmill, thermobile, and others that challenge the reader to find and capture energy in unexpected places. Reviewer: Amy S. Hansen
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—The projects in this book require a well-equipped workshop, a generous pocketbook, and access to an Internet connection for acquiring necessary parts. (From $50 for a four pack of nitinol springs to $550 for a human-powered generator, most components and tools are pricey.) The majority of the projects deal with the creation of energy with renewable resources such as sunlight, wave power, or capturing heat, although one has to do with the differences in efficiency among light bulbs. That experiment is very simple, but most require careful attention to detail when assembling and adult supervision with the power tools necessary for preparation. One project isn't so much an experiment as ideas on how to play around with a Stirling engine (model MM-7 costs $429) and an explanation of why they are not commonly used. Gray-toned photos are included. This is a useful book for larger collections or for classrooms where the more expensive tools can be reused from year to year.—Caroline Tesauro, Radford Public Library, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569763438
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/2010
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 9 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Mike Rigsby is a professional electrical engineer and author of Amazing Rubber Band Cars and Haywired. He has written for Popular Science, Robotics Age, Modern Electronics, Circuit Cellar, Byte, and other magazines.

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