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Earth Day Project Idea #5: Phantom Power

Appliances may be the largest objects in a house and the most visible signs of electricity consumption, but today's typical household uses a constant flow of electricity to power all the gadgets and conveniences that have become, for many of us, a way of life. There has been growing awareness and discussion of the continuous drain on electricity that happens even when you think you've turned a system "off." Many standard items go into a low-power or standby mode when you click "off" - which means they continue to use power. In March, when people around the world joined together to power down for a single hour (Earth Hour), warnings went out that plugs needed to be pulled and electrical strips shut off. Because our systems keep time, follow our recording interests, hook into local networks for updates, and so on, it takes more than just pressing the "power" button. There is a reality to an "always-on" society. The Chicago Tribune recently ran an article entitled "Putting a plug on the drain gang: The electricityslurpers in your techno home," which offers eye-opening statistics on what is often termed vampire power. The problem is also referred to as phantom power or leaking electricity.

This Science Buddies science fair project idea moves beyond the discussion and gives student a blueprint for recording and measuring the impact of phantom power.

Science Buddies Project Idea
    Spare a Watt, Save a Lot

    How much energy do you save by turning off your computer? Or unplugging your toaster at night? This project will help you find out!

    Science Buddies difficulty level: 4-5

    Duration: a couple of weeks


Science Buddies Science Activities

Science Buddies Summer Science Roundup


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School and family science weekly spotlight: experiment with tonic water and a black light to learn more about fluorescence and light energy!

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Are you a picky eater? Maybe there is a scientific reason for your reluctance to eat certain foods even if you know they are good for you. Find out with a tongue-dyeing taste-testing science project!

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Catch the annual Perseids meteor shower and tie in some fun family astronomy science with an exploration of parallax. How far away are the things we see in the sky?

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School and family science weekly spotlight: make a solar oven from household and recycled materials.

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With different kinds of dried beans, plastic cups, and water, kids can model rocks and observe the way different sized particles in rocks affect how much water a rock can hold.

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Students can experiment with the engineering design process by trying to improve the durability of a simple handheld device.



Your Science!
What will you explore for your science project this year? What is your favorite classroom science activity? Email us a short (one to three sentences) summary of your science project or teaching tip. You might end up featured in an upcoming Science Buddies newsletter!



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