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What do you use energy for? You use it to turn on lights, but you also use it to run fast. You use energy to cook food or to power a car. Energy is the ability to do work. But what does it look like? Is it solid or liquid (or neither, or both)? Is there a difference between the kind of energy that powers a light bulb and the kind of energy you get from eating a healthy meal?

 

TrailblazerBookmarks EnergyActivity



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What happens with the sweater and the balloon?


Why does the balloon act that way after you've rubbed it on a sweater? It's generating static electricity. The balloon picks up negatively charged particles from the sweater. Anything with a positive charge will have a slight attraction to the negatively charged balloon.

The same thing happens when you rub your shoe on carpet. How else can you make static electricity?

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What do you use energy for? You use it to turn on lights, but you also use it to run fast. You use energy to cook food or to power a car. Energy is the ability to do work.

But what does it look like? Is it solid or liquid (neither, or both)? Is there a difference between the kind of energy that powers a light bulb and the kind of energy you get from eating a healthy meal? There's a fixed amount of energy in our world, which means that you can't make energy. You can't destroy energy, either, but you CAN transform energy. That's how you can take energy from the food you eat and use it to turn the pedals of a bicycle, or take energy from the sun and use it to power anything from lamps to laptops to electric and hybrid cars. Did you know? Enough energy comes from the sun every hour to power 2,880 trillion light bulbs! 

Energy may be invisible, but you can see the effects of energy in many ways, like the static electricity you saw with the sweater and balloon. Scientists, physicists, and other researchers study electricity in labs all over the world, using special machines and techniques. One machine called a Van de Graaff Generator generates static electricity through friction. The rubbing creates positive charges ( + ) in some atoms and negative charges ( - ) in other atoms.


tb1 diagram 18 vandegraaffgenerator

When the charges are separated, this causes static electricity. Inside, a motor with a pulley moves a belt against a metal comb. The comb rubs on the belt, which draws electrons off and allows the charge to spread to the metal dome. When the negatively charged wand comes near the positively charged dome, static electricity happens. See how it works for yourself in the game below!

PhET Interactive Simulations, University of Colorado Boulder, http://phet.colorado.edu/


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The videos below are in 360° Virtual Reality views. You can turn your device in any direction to see all parts of the video, or use your mouse to click through it. If you have a VR headset like Google Cardboard, click the Cardboard icon in the lower right hand corner of the video. The playlist will show you other videos, too!





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Why did the gardener plant a light bulb?
She wanted a power plant.

What happened to the wire whose behavior was shocking?
He was grounded. 


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TAME's traveling Trailblazers are one-of-a-kind science museums-on-wheels. Exciting, hands-on exhibits teach students about energy, space, weather, biotechnology, and aerodynamics while also introducing them to educational and career opportunities in STEM. Check out what else you can learn from taking a peek inside the Trailblazer's Energy area.


trailblazermuseumdisplays tame energyweather vandegraaffgeneratortrailblazermuseumdisplays tame energy energybicycle


trailblazermuseumdisplays tame energy energyconversiontrailblazermuseumdisplays tame energy insulation


trailblazermuseumdisplays tame energy solarenergytrailblazermuseumdisplays tame energy windgenerator



Average salaries calculated for Texas whenever possible. Data gathered in 2015 from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Program of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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If you could do one thing to make life on Earth better, what would that thing be?  Here's a Grand Challenge: according to some of the world's smartest people, this is a challenge that humans will face in the next 100 years.  What would you do to help solve it?

The sun is an excellent source of power, but so far, solar energy is only providing 1% of the world’s energy. Can you improve solar technology to help capture more of the sun’s energy and reduce our need for fossil fuels?

grandchallenge solarenergy

Fusion is the energy source for the sun, where enormous heat and gravitational pressure push the nuclei of some atoms into heavier nuclei. As the nuclei fuse together, a tiny amount of mass is lose, transformed into energy the way Einstein predicted in his famous equation, E=mc2. How can you bring the fusion power from the sun to a clean and safe Earthbound reactor?

grandchallenge energyfromfusion




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