Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Energy Park in Arboretum's Adventure Garden

A new addition at Dallas Arboretum is the Meyers Children's Adventure Garden. 

I thought that Children's adventure garden would be a miniaturized Arboretum plus some hands on activities, of course with more signs and labels. It indeed has this plus more.

We walked to the left after entering the garden and eventually walked onto the sky walk. At the end of the sky walk, there is a "water park". It turned out to be T Boone Pickens Energy park.

I looked around a bit and was not really excited about it until I started to play with the toys!

This first thing I did was to shoot water gun at a turbine. As the turbine turned faster and faster, it started to produce water sprout. There is a big turbine (the front one in the first photo), that shooting from one water gun will not be able to start it. I asked Lily to play with me and together with shootings from two water guns we made the biggest turbine turn and produced water sprout.

shooting at turbine to rotate it, fast rotating turbine generated water sprout
playing together was fun even for adults
I had so much fun, so I went to look for the kids in the group, who turned right after the entering the garden, to have them go to the energy park to have some fun. Initially they were not impressed either until they started playing.

Another "shooting" game was to shoot lights into the center of this yin-yang wheel to make it turn. Unfortunately it was cloudy, no sunshine during the time we were there.

A game to educate about hydro power was to transport water through a helical seal to high place and then to turn over a large water bucket. Initially I helped a unknown boy to rotate the shaft to transfer water to top of the tube and turn over the bucket, and then I played this by myself. The excitement I had infected the boys in our group and they had plenty of fun to play the game a few times.

port water "uphill"
Solar tree
There is a solar tree to collect solar power. A chest of solar toys gave me ideas about future prizes for STEM related events. A very interesting device is to use solar power to heat air in a vertical tube to float a very light ball to the top of the tube; when solar power is blocked the ball falls to the bottom. The solar energy emitted through the thick clouds was sufficient to make the demo work.

The third clean energy feature in this energy park is the wind power. One group turbines for wind energy harvesting are lined on the side of the pond and near the white rock lake to show which one is more efficient in the wind. This is a urban wind turbine design which does not have the typical 3 blades. We could easily tell that the commercial turbine was the most efficient one because it was the only turbine rotating under the light breeze. There are a few other turbine designs for turbo generator which are for play-and-tell - one use a handheld fan to blow air to the turbines and see how much electricity is generated. and compare 4 or 5 designs.
various urban turbine designs
The commercial wind turbine turned slowly under very light breeze
Two more wind energy related experiments are experience based - one is to stand in a wind "tunnel" to experience the power of 78 mph wind, and the other is feel the the mass of air in a big "blow" of air.

wind tunnel
The activity based outdoor experiments in the energy park can generate people interests and curiosity about clean energy. Two hours flew by before we knew it when we finally decided to leave the area. It is fun!

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