This month is going to be the month to see the planets. It depends when a person is able to look at the sky, to determine what planet they will be able to see. I am looking forward to observing: Venus before sunrise or sunset; Saturn in the late evening sky, and lets not forget Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Uranus.
This Thursday, April 22, 2010, is Earth Day. Earth Day is ‘a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment.’ NADA Scientific is proud to present 4 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day:
1. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” It is a succinct summary of what everyone should be doing everyday, not just on Earth Day. This year, highlight the ideas behind this by reusing plastic bottles to make a Tornado Tube.
2. Celebrate Earth Day by exploring it. Go for a hike or long bike ride. If you live in an urban area, take a walk in the park. Want something to do on your hike? Check out some fun activities to do in The Big Book of Nature Projects
3. Everyone still has to eat, even on Earth Day. For a fun activity that also saves on electricity, make a meal in a Solar Oven. Look around the web and you will find many creative recipes for foods ranging from sweet to savory. (Note, if you plan to make this your main meal, plan ahead. While solar ovens do not use electricity or fuel to cook, they do take time.)
4. Learn, or teach, a lesson in renewable energy. From Biomass to Wind, alternatives to fossil fuels are becoming more and more viable as energy sources. Race a hydrogen powered car or build a wind turbine to explore the technology of the future.
I hope you enjoy some of these activities, and feel free to comment with any other suggestions for Earth Day. But remember, these activities can be done any day to celebrate our amazing Earth.
In this year’s Consumer Report annual reliability survey, five of the top eight family vehicles were hybrids. At the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show earlier this moth, the new Toyota Prius was voted Japan’s Car of the Year. The Honda Insight was awarded Car of the Year by the Committee of Japan Automotive Hall of Fame.
All signs point to the fact that not only are hybrids popular among environmentalists, they are popular among the general public as well as automotive insiders. This means that the market segment of hybrid owners will continue to grow.
And those cars will need to be maintained.
At this point, auto tech programs that teach or specialize in hybrid technology are rare. There are thousands of programs that still have yet to develop a curriculum for teaching hybrids. Part of the reason for that lag has been the lack of available teaching tools.
The Hybrid System Model is a solid model of a parallel hybrid system that is used in the Toyota Prius. It has a built-in operating panel to help students learn about hybrid engines.
The Hybrid Cut-Away Engine is an engine mounted on a metal frame that includes cut-aways of the engine and transmission sections, as well as an operation panel, all powered by two sets of 120V electric motors.
For years scientists and the government have been trying to lower carbon emissions to help the environment. Many of the projects trying to do this are aimed at the automotive industry. The emissions from trucks, planes and cars are being debated and discussed. But there is a source of emissions that creates more that all of them together, nearly 1/5 of the human population’s emissions according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.
That source is meat consumption.
Now before the carnivores and omnivores in the audience get incensed, this article is not to promote vegetarianism. And vegetarians, it is not to discuss the suggestion of a PETA funded scientist who suggested that Australians could help with the issue by eating kangaroos.
Instead, there has been some movement for a scientific alternative: lab grown meat. Last month SEED Magazine interviewed Jason Matheny of New Harvest, a non-profit aimed at discovering and funding lab grown, or in-vitro, meat.
This meat is made with cells, either stem or myoblast (precursor to muscle). These are placed in a medium of a nutritious mix that is the biochemical equivalent of blood. These cells are then fused using energy, either mechanical or electricity. This process takes a few weeks, and produces the equivalent of a ground meat.
This process may seem unnatural, and students may think of this as science fiction. But everyday foods like cheese or yogurt are bio-tech products. Students can learn about food science for themselves by cooking. Or you can discuss this generally in terms of the power of science, and the things scientists can accomplish.
Right now this idea, while being accomplished in small quantities in labs, is not yet commercially viable. But that may change, and science educators may now be teaching the young scientist who could develop it.
For several years the debate over global warming has been occurring. A large portion of this give-and-take revolves around the pollution caused by gas powered vehicles. While the reality of global warming is still being discussed in both the public and private sphere, technology is speeding ahead to help limit it effects.
A brief synopsis of some of these efforts are presented in the article Teaching Students about Clean Fuels and Transportation Technologies, (Technology Teacher, April 2009). The authors discuss issues and technologies which are being implemented across the world, and so should be taught to students. Among the ideas presented are:
Fuel Efficient Vehicles: Also known as FEVs, which are traditionally powered vehicles which limit the emissions produced
Alternative Fuels and Vehicles: This refers to non-petroleum based fuels and the vehicles that run on them
Flexible-Fuel Vehicles: These use both traditional and alternative fuels
Biomass: Plant and animal matter that is used to make energy
Ethanol: A renewable grain fuel made from the fermentation of plant materials
Biodiesel: Fuel derived from soy, canola and other plants
Hydrogen: The cleanest of fuels
Hydrogen Fuel Cells: An electrochemical energy conversion device that will continue to produce electricity as long as it has a constant flow of chemicals.
Battery Powered Vehicles: Vehicles which rely on rechargeable batteries.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles: Use a combination of an internal-combustion engine and an electric motor.
Solar Vehicles: Photovoltaic cells are used to convert sunlight into electricity.
While that list is long, informing students and peers about these basics is essential, as automotive technology keeps on rolling forward. Luckily, Nada Scientific is here to provide the necessary tools for up-to-date science and automotive education. On our site you will find fun and informative products to teach you and your students more about these new technologies.
Earlier this year Discover Magazine highlighted a way two MIT chemists are helping promote the use of solar energy. One of the main limits on solar power is storage. There are very few cost effective storage modules for solar energy. Daniel Nocera and Matthew Kanan are trying to devise one by using cobalt as a catalyst.
This method mimics the way plants use and store solar power. The cobalt is used as a catalyst, along with phosphate and an electrode placed in water. These are placed in water in order to separate out oxygen gas. A second catalyst, platinum, is used to separate the hydrogen. When electricity is applied through the electrode the cobalt/phosphate catalyst produces a film on the electrode that produces oxygen.
This system is based on plant photosynthesis, and its genius is in its simplicity. It does not require extensive set-up, as it can be accomplished using neutral pH water and without hefty equipment.
Electronic Design; 9/25/2008, Vol. 56 Issue 19, p65-65
Discover Magazine; 4/17/2009, Vol. 94 Issue 15, p15-15
In discussions about alternative fuels, on of the most mentioned possibilities is Hydrogen power. Hydrogen is combined with oxygen to produce energy, with water and heat as byproducts. As with other alternative fuels, one of the issues at hand is how to produce the hydrogen cleanly and effectively. The ways researchers and engineers are trying to solve this are stated in the article “Renewable Hydrogen Reproduction Technologies,” from the November 2008 issue of Power Engineering.
Hydrogen can be produced from water by electrolysis. While the means to power this cleanly and without emissions is still underway, students can be shown electrolysis at work using one of our electrolysis kits.
According to that article, one of the most promising ways to power electrolysis involves utilizing the hydrogen that is found in anaerobic digester gas (ADG), which is an organic waste product, and methane, in electrolysis. This is already in use in a fuel cell power plant in Yonkers, NY. According to UTC Power, ADG using fuel cells only release 72 pounds of emissions into the environment. This is in contrast to the more than 41,000 pounds from the average oil-fired plant.