Published on December 10th, 2009 | by Greg0
Power House, Training the Next Generation of Green Home Owners
Very few adults know the measures that can be taken to construct a more energy efficient home. Thames & Kosmos science kits seek to make the next generation more educated than the current one. Their Power House teaches some of the inner workings of an energy-efficient home and the science behind some of current green technology.
The Power House contains the parts for a house using regenerative energy, complete with solar panels, a windmill generator, and a desalinator, and a slew of other related environmental science projects, such as an oil press, a sail car, a section on plants & light, and more information on concepts like magnetism, electricity and motors. It’s recommended for kids 12 and up- though the house looks like it can be assembled fairly easily at a young age, many of the experiments need adult supervision of some sort. There are experiments involving currents, experiments involving small amounts of fire and experiments involving very bright reflective surfaces, and most everything is included inside.
The photo diagrams and instructions are usually complete enough, though I wouldn’t have minded more pictures of the parts needed to assemble the device. The oil press and solar oven were two of my favorite experiments. I had heard about solar ovens being used in Africa and had always wondered how they worked. Well, if you don’t have a backyard or go camping on a regular basis, they’re not very practical to actually try out, but they’re a really interesting parabolic design I was glad to have finally explained to me. The oil press was a really fun experiment to include because after the end of all that work you have a usable product, though a bit of grunt work is required for it. I’ve also seen olive oil presses and have been quite impressed by them in the past.
Overall, it’s a pretty complete kit introducing kids to the basics of environmental science. Thames & Kosmos also produce a variety of other green-themed science kits, including a Hydropower kit, a Wind Power kit, and the Power House Green Essentials Edition (a streamlined version of the Power House available at a cheaper price). They have a handy little chart that gives the blow-by-blow on the differences between the Power House and the Power House GEE. The Power House seemed like it had enough additional experiments to make it worth the additional cost, though even the upgraded version seemed like it could have incorporated a few more items into its house. There’s a lot of interesting new technology out there on homes, and it would have been fun to play around with some more of it.
One surprising thing about the kit was what wasn’t there. The kit is very hands on and experiment-based, which is very good because it doesn’t read like a textbook, but usually items dispensing this type of information will go to great lengths to mention other small changes kids can do to save energy, such as turn off lights in a room, turn off the water when brushing their teeth, see whether the windows in one’s own house are double-paned. Also, the materials did not appear to be recycled, but instead seemed to be first-generation plastics and Styrofoam. Then again, perhaps they incorporated all those features into the Global Warming kit, which they also produce.