It’s back to school time and our daily routines are changing so it’s probably a good idea to review some of the ways students can safely get back and forth from school.
Electric and gas safety
Sometimes storms can cause power lines to fall to the ground. Stay away from them. And never climb trees that are near power lines, even if the branches aren’t touching. You could receive a dangerous shock.
On very rare occasions, there could be gas leaking from an underground pipeline or from a building. If you smell gas (smells like rotten eggs or sulfur), leave the area immediately and call 911 from a safe location.
- Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
- Don’t run out into the street or cross in the middle of the street between parked cars.
- It’s always good to travel with a friend or group of friends.
- Walk in well-traveled and well-lit areas. Don’t take shortcuts and avoid places where you can’t be seen or heard.
Many bicycling injuries can be prevented by wearing a helmet, so be smart and always use one.
In addition …
- Ride with traffic, obey all traffic signals and signs, and signal turns.
- If you ride at night, make sure your bike has a reflector and a light, and that you wear reflective clothing.
- Make sure your brakes are in good condition.
- Watch the road ahead, avoiding puddles, potholes, gravel, broken glass, and drainage grates.
- While waiting for the bus, stand on the sidewalk and don’t get on until it has come to a complete stop, the door is open, and the safety lights are flashing.
- When crossing the street, do this in front of the bus and make sure you’re at least ten feet from the front of the bus so the driver can see you.
- Whenever possible, wait for the bus with a friend or group of friends.
Beware of strangers
If a stranger approaches you, offers a ride, starts a conversation, or does anything to make you uncomfortable, remember the safety rule: No, Go and Tell.
- Tell the stranger "no"
- Leave the area ("go")
- "Tell" an adult that you trust about the situation. A trusted adult can be a parent, teacher, neighbor, relative, policeman or fireman.
Visit Electric and Natural Gas Safety World to get everything you need to teach students how to keep themselves and others safe around electricity and natural gas, and visit our home page at www.ngridenergyworld.com.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, schools could save half of their energy costs by making changes in the equipment in the school and the way students, teachers, and other staff use energy.
If schools across the country cut their energy usage by one-quarter, it would save enough money to hire 30,000 new teachers. Using less energy also means less pollution.
Another good thing about saving energy in schools is that it’s a learning experience. Teachers and students can learn firsthand where and how energy can be saved. It can be discussed in the classroom and become an important part of the student’s education.
Want to get started? The first step is to talk about energy in the classroom and make a list of suggestions for the people who run the schools. Here are a few ideas:
Your local electric or gas company hires specially-trained people who come into the school and see where energy is being wasted. Sometimes they can tell just by looking at the equipment and other times they need to run tests.
They go through the entire school and make a list of changes that can save energy. This is called an energy audit. Students and teachers can observe the audit and ask questions. You can use our School energy inspection as a starting point.
More than one-quarter of the energy used by a school goes to lighting. Energy-efficient bulbs use about two-thirds less electricity than regular bulbs and, in many cases, the electric company will pay part of the cost of putting in new lights. So, even though the energy-efficient bulbs cost more, they save a lot of money in the long run. Learn more about CFLs, Energy Star appliances and EnergyGuide labels at here.
Energy-efficient heating and cooling
If a heating and air conditioning system needs to be replaced, it’s better to install energy-efficient equipment. Even though it costs more, an energy-efficient system saves a great deal of money over the life of the equipment and can make classrooms more comfortable.
Motion sensors can save electricity in unlocked rooms that are not being used for long periods of time, such as bathrooms. Any type of motion in the room triggers a switch that turns on the lights. But if there is no one in the room for a certain amount of time (for example, ten minutes), the sensor shuts off the lights. For other frequently asked questions, visit here.
Learn more energy-saving tips by visiting Energy Efficiency World and find out about safety, the environment, and ethics by visiting our home page at www.ngridenergyworld.com.
Renewable energy is energy that comes from natural resources such as the sun, wind, or the flow of water. They’re called renewable because the source of this energy never gets used up.
Today’s scientists and engineers have found ways to take advantage of these energy sources. This is important because renewable energy does not pollute the atmosphere. In this story, we’ll look at solar energy.
Using photovoltaic (solar) cells is one of several ways to "harvest" energy from the sun.
Solar cells are made of silicon, a chemical element. When the sun’s rays hit the cell, there is a chemical reaction that frees up electrons and creates electricity. Because each cell produces only a small amount of electricity, solar cells need to be combined together into a larger solar panel to provide enough energy to be useful.
Solar cells in the classroom
To understand how a solar cell works, you can build a small system in the classroom. Hobby and electronics stores sell solar cell kits that consist of one or more solar cells, a motor, a rotor or wheel, and connecting wires and clips. The kits cost $10-15.
The rotor (propeller) or wheel connects to the motor and shows how fast the motor is running. By placing a lamp close to the solar cell and then moving it away, you can see how the strength of the light affects the amount of electricity produced. When the lamp is close to the cell, there’s more electricity and the motor runs faster.
Volts, amps and watts
Each solar cell produces one-half volt of electricity. The number of volts indicates the force at which the electrons are moving.
Amperes (or amps) are also a measure of electricity. The number of amps shows the amount of electrons moving through the wire. It’s like the volume of water moving through a pipe.
The number of amps increases with the number of individual solar cells on a solar panel. A solar panel can include dozens of individual cells.
Electric power (watts) equals volts times amps. You can increase the wattage by hooking several solar cells to each other, and by increasing the power the motor spins faster. You can also experiment with different ways to connect the solar cells to each other and see how that affects the speed of the motor.
For more information on solar power and other renewable forms of energy, visit Your Sustainable Energy World and go to our home page at www.ngridenergyworld.com.
This year I once again chose to use National Grid’s Energy and your environment activity book with my 7th grade students. The booklet provides a brief introduction to 8th grade science topics covered in New York State and engages students with colorful images and high interest topics important for our 7th grade curriculum.
The topics covered in Energy and your environment helped me initiate whole-class discussions about where our energy comes from, and how each individual’s energy consumption affects the environment and our own local community. In our area we have a large, energy-producing company that employs family members of my students. It is thus interesting to listen to my students’ ideas and concerns about the environment and how changing energy sources may affect the local economy. Students prepared for our class discussions by completing the activities with their parents, Everybody Needs Energy, Paying the Price for Our Energy Use, and Conserving Energy at Home. We used other portions of the book for small group discussion before returning to a whole-class format.
In addition to studying Energy and your environment, I also encouraged my students to visit NGRID’s Energy Explorer student website. In my classroom we often use learning stations to prepare for whole-group discussions. One of these learning stations required students to visit the Your Sustainable Energy World section of the website to play the Make the Sustainable Choice game. Another station had students playing Stop the Guzzler! from the site’s Energy efficiency world section. Following these activities students were able to describe how choices they make impact the environment and what they could do at home to conserve energy. My students enjoyed the game-like format and asked for additional time to explore the rest of the student site.
While I incorporated home energy use and parent-student discussions into my unit plan, I would like to make this connection stronger next year. I am planning to use the NGRID e-books, Energy and Your Environment and Your Renewable Energy World, to encourage families to make an effort to alter their energy use. I am expecting to have students complete portions of the e-books with their families and write journal entries sharing their ideas, struggles, and successes. I am hopeful that parents will work with their children to try some of the activities, particularly Two Ways to Dry Your Clothes and Make a Mini-Greenhouse, and I will then share their data with the class.
I am very pleased with the materials from National Grid. I appreciate having materials that are interesting, easy to use, and accessible. I’m looking forward to using the materials again!
7th Grade Life Science Teacher
Fredonia Middle School
Submitted Summer 2011