Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Power and Politics

It is a very intense time, for everyone in the US, and also for my classroom.

Solar JudeYesterday I brought in a solar panel to power one of our four XO laptops for the year. I chose Jude to be our solar XO, for a couple of reasons. First, because it is the newest XO we have, in terms of power on/off cycles, so the battery is the freshest. Second, because it came from a place where there is a lot of sunshine, Colorado. Lots more sun than Washington, for sure.

I felt so very happy, riding my bike in to school yesterday, with a solar panel tied on to my backpack. I wish somebody had a picture of that. I would have looked like a solar powered cyclist or something...

The solar panel is now set up in my classroom, and my kids get it.

In the classroomI had three of our XO's plugged in to AC power via their classy green power adapter cords. I pointed this out to my class and then walked across the classroom to our fourth XO. I noted that it had a black power cord. Then I picked that cord up, traced it back through the plants and other computer wires, until it ended up at a 15 1/2" by 20" board. I held it up and asked if anybody knew what it was. Three or four hands shot up immediately, and told me it was a solar panel.

They are 8 and 9 year olds, the ones who recognized that solar panel. They knew the power came from the sun. They knew that power would recharge the XO battery. They looked at per cent battery life left display, and they began to understand percentage. How cool will it be if we can use only solar energy to power a computer in our classroom this year?

This arrives amidst a firestorm of fear and lies in the US presidential race. As I experiment with, learn about, and teach about an alternative energy source, a couple of recent posts from Tom Hoffman struck a chord:
So much written and read, hopefully. Therein is my hope for our future - that people fully understand what my third graders see so clearly.

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1 comment:

Brian C. Smith said...

Despite the back and forth between political parties I think that each understands the importance of using multiple energy sources.

I think the exposure you are providing your students to alternative energy sources (as well as riding your bicycle) is essential. So often, I think in many schools, students and teachers believe that solar power is still very futuristic. While it is, my point is that they may feel they don't have the technical knowledge to make it a possibility. You are living that indeed it is with your students. Kudos!