3 Fun DIYs to Teach Your Kids About Energy
Kids don’t get going green. Heck, many adults don’t get it. To this day, my dad and I still argue about whether or not our cell phone chargers should be left plugged in when not in use. (I am adamant they shouldn't for the reason of vampire power or electric leakage.) If two educated adults can't get it together, how can we expect kids to? The secret to getting young ones to take interest in something is making learning fun, and as energy efficiency is growing in importance with each generation, such a topic is a great one for kids to learn. This article will offer a series of fun DIY projects to do with your kids to inspire them to get thinking about energy. Who knows—maybe you will create mini energy conservationists for life!
Above photo via Squawk Fox
1. Pizza Box Oven
Photo via Steve Spangler Science
Solar panels can create light, cook food, and even heat a home. This DIY is a scaled-down, accessible way to show kids the basics of solar panel functions. Let your kids learn about the power of the sun and how it can be used in an eco-friendly manner by letting it cook a meal you prepare together. Here's how to make it:
What You’ll Need
- 1 pizza box
- Plastic wrap
- Black paper
- Aluminum foil
- Box cutter
Attain a pizza box and using a box cutter, cut three sides of a rectangle in the box's lid.
Using tape, adhere a piece of aluminum foil to the inside flap of the three-sided piece and line the inside of the box with black paper.
Seal the inside flap of the box lid with tightly pulled plastic wrap. This will keep the heat inside the box when in use.
To operate, put a food item inside the box and close it. Place in the sun so that the aluminum paper on the inside of the flap is reflecting its rays (this activity is great to warm baked goods or make s'mores). When left in the sun for a number of minutes, solar energy reflects into the box, adding concentrated heat to the box and warming the food inside.
2. DIY Sock Snakes
When considering energy efficiency in the home, the first thing that comes to my mind is interior drafts. As temperature controlled air leaks from one room to another, interior thermometers often have trouble getting accurate readings, leading to over or under-heating and cooling. When placed at the base of a door, this fun DIY is a great way to stop unwanted air flow, and lets your kids' creativity thrive.
What You’ll Need
- Old socks
- Cotton stuffing
- Popcorn kernels
- Measuring cup
- Needle and thread
Using a measuring cup, fill your sock one cup at a time, in alternating layers of stuffing and popcorn kernels. While the cotton will fill the sock and create a sense of volume, the kernels add weight and keep it in place. Repeat until the sock is completely full.
Seal the open end of your sock using a thread and needle.
To make this craft look like a snake, allow your kids to add googly eyes, draw designs and patterns with fabric pens, or even glue on a tongue made of pipe cleaners.
When finished, place at the foot of a drafty door and let your house snake do the rest.
3. Mini Anemometer
Photo via Frugal Fun for Boys
Do you know what an anemometer is? It's a device used in meteorology to measure wind speed, but for our purposes it can be used as a wonderful tool to teach kids about the power of wind! Essentially made of a singular post and four cups that spin, rotations of about 14 miles per hour are enough to generate an electric current. Though ours won't actually be conducting power, one can use this idea to measure wind speed at varying times of the day and determine when energy could be most created. Plus, it's still a wonderful DIY to do as a family!
What You’ll Need
- Cardboard pieces
- Pencil with eraser
- 4 paper or plastic cups
Cut two pieces of cardboard in about 10x3-inch strips. Crisscross and hold them together with a pushpin, which should be long enough to stick though to the bottom of the cardboard pieces.
Stick the protruding end of the pushpin into the end of a pencil’s eraser.
Take four paper or plastic cups and staple them to the end of each cardboard piece, all facing the same direction. This way, when a breeze blows the cups will catch the wind and turn the structure effortlessly around the pushpin holding the pieces together.
Finally, push your pencil into the ground so the structure stands upright unaided. When the wind blows, your anemometer will rotate freely. Count the rotations with your kids and experience the power of wind for yourself!