Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring 2014: Exhibit Opening!!

Today was the opening for the Energy Net exhibit at the Carnegie Museum! Our exhibit is called, "Water Wise: Give Rain a Home." The exhibit explains ways to soak up and slow down polluted runoff.

The energy team and our new exhibit!
The exhibit includes a diorama of a ran garden, complete with native plants.

EnergyNet rain garden.
We also had a house with a rain barrel attached to the gutter that stores rain water.

House with a rain barrel.
At the end of the day, we celebrated our amazing work with a delicious cake decorated to look like our exhibit! Great work everyone!!!!

EnergyNet cake!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Last Day! Putting the Exhibit Together

We did a lot of organizing and shifting of materials in order to get ready for the exhibit that opens on Sunday (April 13, by the way!)

The rain garden group with their final product!
A teen in the playhouse, demonstrating what the kids will do.
The students took all of the materials up to the exhibit space and putt all of the big parts together. The only things we have left are a few signs and the big opening!

Transporting some materials.
The students also participated in some experiments and then decided on their favorite so we could have it set up for opening day.

Cameron doing experiments with students.
Check out what we have so far but come see the final product on Sunday!

Kaleen and Nadin hanging up some signs.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Week 10: Final Exhibit Preparations

The team is hard at work this week putting on the finishing touches for our exhibit for the opening this Sunday, April 13th at 3:00! We are very excited for everyone to see what we've been working on all semester!

The rain garden is finished! The final product includes replica native plants and some cute wildlife.
Some of the team painting native cardinal flowers.
The beautiful rain garden!
The house will show visitors how rain barrels work! A rain barrel is set at the bottom of a gutter which collects all the rain that falls on the roof. The water can then be used to water a lawn or wash a car!

A teen puts the finishing touches on the house. Looking good!
With the help of the Pittsburgh Filmmakers, the teens have put together an awesome video highlighting what we've learned this semester. It will give visitors a quick lesson in green infrastructure! 
Check out that focus!
We're officially in the home stretch! We've had another great semester at Energy Net and learned so much. We can't wait to share what we've learned with all the visitors at the museum! 

It took a lot of planning to get where we are now!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Week 9: Adventures in Label Land

ENET today was all about selecting the right words. Kaleen is our trusty guide, leading us through our adventure in label land. Groups of teens reviewed  PowerPoint slides with tips for creating labels. The main rule is that all labels must be less than 50 words. Short and sweet!
Kaleen leading the label workshop.
After reviewing the PowerPoint, we took a stab at revising our text for the exhibit. How do we turn all our facts into short, interesting stories? Label making truly takes a lot of skill. Each group worked on one piece of the text and suggested improvements. 

Teams working on revising our text.
At the end of the day, the GeoSquad took a look at the old exhibit panel and added their suggested changes. We all grabbed pencils and marked it up. What should we keep? What should we cut? What worked? What didn't work? All these comments will help Kaleen improve the text for this semester's exhibit. 

Revising the text on the exhibit panel from last semester.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Week 9: Caution Construction Zone

Today we made great progress on the exhibit components. The rain garden group began building the rain garden out of a large wooden box that will be filled with pool noodles and covered with coconut cloth.

Working on the rain garden box.
Fake flowers will stick into the coconut cloth to represent native plants in the rain garden. The Geosquad finished making all of the plants for the rain garden. 

Crafting the rain garden plants.
We also did some painting today! We painted till we couldn't paint another stroke. Mac and cheese orange was the color selected for the table that will hold the green infrastructure map. Another group of teens spray painted the rain barrel green.

Painting to exhaustion.
Spray painting the rain barrel.
And the video team finished the last of their interviews! Two weeks to go!

Video shoot!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Week 8 - Field Trip to Visit a Landscape Architect

Today the GeoSquad took a field trip to Wilkinsburg to meet with Sara Madden a landscape architect at Stormworks. Sara works on designing landscapes that capture and soak up stormwater using rain gardens, rain barrels, and cisterns.

She installs these practices on residential lots and at schools in Pittsburgh. Sara started our visit with a short presentation of photos from some of the projects she designed and installed.
Sara showing us some of her design work.
After the presentation we went to visit some local projects within walking distance of her office. Our first stop was a patch of permeable pavement, called Flexipave. As we stepped from the concrete sidewalk to the Flexipave sidewalk we noticed a bit more squishiness under our feet. The pavement is made out of recycled tires!

We tested the pavement with some buckets of water and watched the water disappear into the pavement. We also learned that the pavement needs vacuumed every year. The resident who installed this sidewalk uses a shop vac to suck dirt out of the pavement.

Testing the permeable pavement.
We also saw a dozen rain barrels attached to homes. These were really large rain barrels that hold 133 gallons of water! The barrels are designed to capture 1/4 of the runoff generated by a 1 inch rainstorm on the average roof (1,000 sq ft) in Wilkinsburg.

Rain barrel at the Edgewood train station.
Our last stop was a rain garden at the Edgewood train station. The rain garden captures runoff from the roof of the Edgewood train station. We learned that rain gardens should be at least 10 feet from the building to prevent water from soaking into the basement.

This rain garden captures roof runoff.
It was pretty cool to see real examples of rain gardens and rain barrels in our city. We are very grateful that Sara was able to share so much information about stormwater management. Here are some more photos from our trip!

A very large rain garden at someone's house.
Standing on the permeable pavement.
The video team hard at work.
Checking out the rain garden.