Today is Earth Day! We spend this day celebrating Earth, raising awareness of things threatening the planet, and learning how to fix those problems! This year’s theme is plastic pollution and the threat it poses to humans and other life.
Plastics can be very useful, but the huge amount that is discarded incorrectly and dangerously is a serious issue. In one year alone, the state of New York uses enough plastic bags that, if they were tied together, they could reach the moon and back – 18 times! Worldwide, about 1 trillion bags are used and disposed of every year. And that’s not including other plastic items like drinking straws, plastic bottles, and single-use plastic containers.
Much of what we use is not disposed of correctly! Each year, about 8 trillion tons of plastic waste ends up in our oceans. The waste congregates together, forming enormous “islands” of floating plastic where fish and other sea life cannot live. There are currently 5 of these huge clumps around the world – the largest of these is the size of Texas! If the current trend of littering continues, there will be more plastic by weight in the ocean than fish by the year 2050.
All this means, however, is that we have a long way to go to fixing this problem. And you can help out, too! Here are some steps that you can follow to start:
Reduce! Minimize your use of plastics, because recycling is far from perfect, and many recycled plastics will end up in landfills anyways.
Refuse! Similar to reduce, but making a more conscious effort to reject using plastic products, such as not taking a straw at a restaurant.
Reuse! If you do use plastic products, be sure to avoid single-use items and instead choose something that you can continue to utilize over a longer period of time; or better yet, get yourself reusable, non-plastic items.
Recycle! When you do end up using and needing to dispose of plastic products, recycle them! But be smart about it. Only recycle products that you know are recyclable. Educate yourself on local recycling management procedures and what kinds of material they take.
Remove! Help to clean up the plastic that is already littering our planet! Helping can be anything from picking up trash yourself to supporting organizations that are tackling the problem at a larger level.
All in all, there is a lot to do, but education is the first step to solving these issues. Tell a friend or a family member what they can do to help! Let’s work together to make the world a better place.
If you want to learn even more about what to do or how to help, here’s the link to the official Earth Day 2018 website: https://www.earthday.org/
At AstroCamp we take pride in living in the beautiful mountains and wilderness of southern California. We appreciate the deer, squirrels, rabbits, coyote, pine trees, boulders and so much more. One way that we show this appreciation is by using natural and renewable energy whenever possible.
Solar energy is a great renewable resource that we have put into use in a fun way. It turns out that if you have the right equipment and enough sunshine, you can heat up water using our own sun’s radiation.
This is a solar water heater. The way it works is quite simple. You pour the water at the top, it goes through the pipe, and comes out the bottom. Just by the water passing through the pipe we can increase the temperature by more than 50 degrees! But how?
The first step is the pipe itself. It is made of copper which is a great conductor of heat, meaning that heat can be easily transferred throughout it. The second step is to paint it black. Black pigment absorbs many wavelengths of light which helps to heat up the pipe. The third step is the plexiglass covering. Plexiglass allows visible light to pass through it, but is too thick for infrared light, or heat, to escape it. When, the visible sunlight passes through the clear covering, it loses some energy, turning the visible light into infrared light which is then trapped under the covering.
We have taken this small solar water heater and turned it into a big idea. AstroCamp uses this technology to try to reduce our energy waste by heating our pool with a similar system! Water from the pool is pumped up to the roof of our gym, passed through a black copper pipe and is then pumped back into our pool. Thanks to the sun’s energy we have a bunch of happy campers!
Happy Earth Day from all of us at AstroCamp to you!
Since today, April 22nd, is Earth Day we decided to take a look at one of the most important phenomena on our planet: the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is when some material – like glass, plastic, or the gases in our atmosphere – allows visible light to pass through it easily but traps heat. Without the greenhouse effect, the average temperature on Earth would be a chilly -2℉, but with its help we can instead enjoy a comfortable 57℉. Too much greenhouse effect, on the other hand, and a planet could end up like Venus, the surface of which can reach a whopping 800 degrees!
In the video, we harness the greenhouse effect and the power of our sun to heat water. The black background of the solar water heater is very good at absorbing the energy contained in the sunlight. It then re-emits this energy as infrared radiation, or heat. This heat becomes trapped by the plastic cover, warming the interior of the solar heater. When cold water is passed through the pipe it collects the heat that has been gathered from the sun, emerging from the other side 70℉ warmer than it went in!
Below you can see the same thing as in the video, but in infrared! Infrared light allows us to see the temperature of everyday objects, instead of their normal color. Then, the infrared camera produces what is known as a false color image, changing it back to visible light. Since we can’t see in the infrared, it wouldn’t do any good without this step. At the bottom, it shows which temperatures correspond to which colors. This is constantly updating depending on the hottest and coldest objects in view.
We can see another example of this effect using our solar ovens.The only difference between the two is that one of them has the cover open. The oven without the cover has only heated up to about 140℉, while the covered oven is able to achieve a temperature of 280℉. When it comes to keeping you warm, or even sun baked treats, the greenhouse effect has got you covered!
We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. AstroCamp is a hands-on physical science program with an emphasis on astronomy and space exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and astronomical happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at least a Bachelors Degree in Physics or Astronomy, however it is not uncommon for them to have a Masters Degree or PhD. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science, space and astronomy information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.astrocampschool.org for additional information. Happy Reading!