Last Sunday we had the pleasure of attending the Greenpower Hull Street Race, providing science outreach on behalf of Siemens Gamesa.
We have been working with Siemens Gamesa in schools delivering workshops on wind energy, which have been very successful. You can read more about that here https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/labrascals.home.blog/42
So we were delighted to be asked to work with them at the Greenpower street race in Hull, providing outreach relating to green energy. But first of all, what exactly is the Greenpower street race? It’s run by a charity, Greenpower Education Trust,
which gets young people enthusiastic about STEM subjects by challenging them to design, build, and race an electric car. They provide a basic, age appropriate kit car, which the young people then build onto. This is an international initiative, which culminates in a final in the UK. Last year we helped Healing Primary School in Grimsby build their car.
Students aged 9 – 25 can take part in the initiative, with older students building their own cars to exact specifications. More than 10,000 students take part each year, from primary school age through to university. According to their website, Greenpower is helping to address the engineering skills gap. The Royal Academy of Engineering estimates that the UK needs 104,000 STEM graduates per year and 56,000 technicians, between now and 2020.
So we were tasked with providing outreach for Siemens Gamesa related to green energy. In schools we would use LEGO to build a wind turbine to demonstrate wind energy but that wasn’t really possible at a public event. So we used dry ice to demonstrate how carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels is damaging our oceans through ocean acidification. This is a huge problem. The combustion of fossil fuels and other human activities have led to a flux of CO2 into the atmosphere.
According to NOAA, about 30% of this is absorbed by the oceans. The carbon dioxide mixes with the water creating carbonic acid, leading to a decrease in the pH of our oceans, meaning they are becoming more acidic. This is having a devastating effect on marine life. Calcium carbonate minerals are building blocks for skeletons and shells of marine organisms. Ocean acidification is causing areas of the oceans to become undersaturated with these minerals. The lack of these minerals is reducing the ability of some organisms to produce and maintain their shells. This affects sea life such as lobsters, crabs, mussels and also coral reefs. Fish are also unable to communicate effectively through water where pH is decreasing and water is becoming more acidic.
The children and adults who visited our stall on Sunday really enjoyed taking part in the experiment and we could directly link this to the work that Siemens Gamesa do in Hull, constructing wind turbine blades.
We even had a visit from ex-Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott who was very impressed with our experiment and our engagement with children on the subject of green energy. We even persuaded him to do the experiment himself.
For a bit of fun, and a lesson on sublimation we also did some self inflating balloons and UV bracelets, as part of the green energy topic.
We had an excellent day and even got chance to watch some of the racing!
Have a good weekend!
Katie, Carol, Lauren, Anita, Amanda
The Lab Rascals Team xxx