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Books for Kids that Teach About the Environment

“Reading is fundamental” is a phrase most people are familiar with, and instilling a love of books and reading in their children is some thing that many, if not most, parents strive for. Some books carry messages even more profound, though. Stories are such a compelling way of passing on information that human cultures have stories that have survived thousands of years.

When it comes to environmentalism, stories can play an important role in teaching kids to take care of the animals, plants and other features of a healthy natural environment.

Here are five suggestions from Earth911.com that are sure to please budding environmentalists and eco-parents:

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Back to the Future: Hydra Light and the Long History of the Electric Battery

A colleague recently brought the Hydra Light to our attention, a personal flashlight and charging station that runs on an electrolyte battery. While this design is patent pending, the basic technology behind it is as old- or older- than the pyramids. There is evidence that electrolyte batteries were known in ancient Persia and Egypt, and possibly across the ancient world. The windowless pyramids were lit with electric lights.

But how do electrolyte batteries work?

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Do You Know About the Swedish Dishcloth?

While the sorts of environmental problems that can best be solved by “green” consumerism are admittedly small, they do add up if a lot of us do them together. One of my guiltiest pleasures is my love of paper towels. They clean up everything and you can just get rid of them- you can even compost them. But despite all the rationalizations, the numbers speak for themselves: In the US alone, we use 13 BILLION pounds of paper towels, or 45 pounds per person per year. And while I can’t find any numbers on sponges, they usually stay wet for long periods of time and can harbor all sorts of bacteria. In fact, the kitchen sponge may be the dirtiest thing in your entire house!

The Swedish Dishcloth has the amazing ability to (mostly) replace both products and change your life.

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Solar Off the Roof at the New Museum’s IDEAS CITY StreetFest

MG1A1126We had a great time at the New Museum’s IDEAS CITY StreetFest this past Saturday. We were demonstrating off-the-roof solar projects and giving kids hands-on lessons in the science behind solar photovoltaics: Photons knock electrons in the silicon panels loose, which starts up a negative electric current. That current flows through the wires embedded in the panel  to power a small motor. If you put it in the sun, the motor spins a rotor; if you block the sun, it stops. Light makes it go!

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