Thursday, February 16, 2012

STEM Friday: Energy Island

Energy Island
written and illustrated by Allan Drummond
2011 (Frances Foster Books)
Source: Orange County Public Library

Check out STEM Friday at Nomad Press

Samso is an island in the middle of Denmark. It was an ordinary place with the exception of the constant wind. It was this wind that was at the center of this island's emergence as a renewable energy oasis. Like most places, Samso depended on nonrenewable sources of energy. Fossil fuels provided electricity, gasoline, and heat. As a result of a competition sponsored by the Danish government, Samso was chosen to be a place where all energy would be provided by renewable sources. Soren Hermansen, a local teacher, was chosen to be the leader of this project. Hermansen talked to his students and they suggested harnessing solar energy and oil from crops. One student suggested a logical starting point which was wind energy. The students were on board, but the adults were much more hesitant about converting to renewable sources. Change is difficult and expensive and not worth the effort according to the grownups. Several years go by and nonrenewable energy still dominated the island.  It takes a farmer and an electrician to get the ball rolling. When electricity is cut off due to a strong winter storm, neighbors noticed that the electrician's new turbine was generating electricity in abundance. Now the adults on Samso were interested and the turbines of change were turning. Now a combination of wind energy, biomass, and solar power generate all of the electricity used on Samso. Enough is created that some energy is sent back under the sea for other citizens of Denmark to use. This island has reduced their carbon emissions by 140 percent in 10 years.

Energy Island is an inspiring true tale of what individuals and communities can accomplish when they are determined to reach a goal. This book is a great vehicle for introducing the terms renewable and nonrenewable energy. Alan Drummond includes sidebars that provide the science on these topics which, combined with the human interest story of Samso, makes for an entertaining and informative book. Energy Island would be an excellent discussion starter for thinking about the needs in this country and what can be done to vary our sources of energy. Lessons on cause and effect and problem/solution could be taught using this book as well as a lesson on character qualities featuring Soren Hermansen. He could be the focus of a lesson on how determination can be a positive quality.

Other reviews:
Nonfiction Detectives
Los Angeles Times

1 comment:

  1. I love the sound of Energy Island. Sounds like a great read for my kids' lovable "hippy dippy" school library. Thank you!

    And a BIG thank you for stopping by to comment on my son's essay. He has been thrilled by the responses and is actively building his TBR list. Thank you!


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