Now in its 42nd year, Earth Day has become a symbol for the care and protection of our natural resources. Orlando Science Center is celebrating Earth Day 2012 with its first “online mini-exhibit”. Over the next five days (corresponding to the number of oceans on the planet), we’ll be publishing articles on the following subjects:

  • Conserving energy
  • Conserving the land
  • Conserving the water
  • Conserving the air
  • Conserving the climate

These articles will not necessarily take a stand on any given issue. Instead, they’re designed to get you to think and decide where you stand. Each day, you’ll see three articles…

  • Learn – an article that helps you learn about a given subject.
  • Do – an article that gives you an activity you can do as a family.
  • Act – an article spotlighting an organization where you can lend your time and energy should you choose to act.

 

In celebration of Earth Day, take a look at this video from the Sierra Club featuring some of your favorite celebrities:

 

We hope that you enjoy our celebration of Earth Day and it gives you new ways to think about the planet you call home!

Conserving our natural resources should be a top priority for everyone, but due to social and economic pressures, it’s a lot easier said than done. Among those concerns is preserving our land.

It may not get more important than saving our planet’s rainforests, namely the Amazon, which is severely threatened by deforestation.

How does deforestation of the Amazon rainforest affect me in Orlando or in any other part of the world you may ask?

For starters, the Amazon is so large, that the atmosphere of our planet would be turned upside down without it. Its absorption of carbon dioxide and release of oxygen is the largest factor in preventing global warming. With more than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen produced by the rainforest, the effect would be felt by everyone on earth.

As if that wasn’t enough, scientists estimate deforestation is to blame for the loss of 137 plant, animal and insect species every day and 50,000 species a year. With their extinction, we lose the potential for cures of life-threatening diseases.

As of today, more than 100 prescription drugs sold around the world come from plant-derived sources. And the biggest eye opener? Twenty-five percent of Western pharmaceuticals originate from the rainforest, while less one percent of its tropical trees and plants have even been tested by scientists.

Of the 3,000 plants that are active against cancer cells, 70 percent are found in the Amazon; a quarter of the active ingredients in modern cancer-fighting drugs derive from organisms found only in the rainforest.

In fact, periwinkle, a rainforest plant from which we get vincristine, is one of the most powerful anticancer drugs in the world. Thanks to it, we have increased the survival rate for acute childhood leukemia since its discovery.

And for the food lovers, more than four-fifths of developing countries’ diet can be sourced to the rainforest. From it, we’ve received fruits such as avocados, oranges and bananas and vegetables like corn, potatoes and rice. And don’t forget chocolate!

While 2011 showed the slowest deforestation rate since records started being kept, it’s dependent upon mankind to preserve what nature intended to last forever.

Rainforest


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Some time ago, Orlando Science Center and a team from UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) created a video game called Energize!

Energize! challenges the player to provide electricity to their growing community while keeping emissions minimized. The game, made possible by a grant from the Progress Energy Foundation and with additional support from the Turner Foundation, is now a featured component of the Science Center’s H2Now exhibit, which explores hydrogen power and alternative energy solutions.

During the game, players have five energy producers to choose from: fossil fuel, wind, solar, biomass, and nuclear.  Each form has tradeoffs. The player learns that it takes a combination of energy sources to achieve a balance between energy demand, economic needs and environmental concerns.

Play a few rounds of this award-winning game by visiting www.energizegame.com

In the meantime, here's a great video describing the game:


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It makes up at least 20 percent of the United States’ energy production but what exactly is nuclear energy?  Nuclear energy results from the fission or splitting of uranium atoms. Once the fission takes place, steam is generated from the heat and released through turbines. This process sounds simple enough, so why is it so controversial? Here we take a look at the pros and cons of nuclear energy:

nuclear-reactor

Read more...


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As awareness of the need for alternative energy sources has grown, scores of organizations to support this cause have emerged all around the world.  Locally, there are any number of organizations looking at achieve the goal of energy conservation and efficiency.  One organization that the Science Center has worked with is FREA – Florida Renewable Energy Association.

The mission of FREA is simple.  As stated on its web site, “The Florida Renewable Energy Association is dedicated to expanding the use of clean, renewable energy technologies through public awareness, political advocacy, and individual initiative. “

Acting on the belief that all Floridians have an inherent right to a clean, sustainable environment and a corresponding belief that Floridians can pursue clean, renewable sources of energy without compromising opportunities for sustained economic growth, FREA provides seminars on energy efficiency, solar energy, and alternative fuel vehicles and tries to work with similar organizations to advocate policies that will make Florida a leader in  renewable energy development and use.

To become a member of FRA, simply click here.


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777 E. Princeton Street • Orlando, Florida 32803 • Phone: 407.514.2000 • TTY: 407.514.2005 • Toll Free: 888.OSC.4FUN • Email: gservices@osc.org
  Orlando Science Center is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of power2give.org/centralflorida and the collaborative Campaign for the Arts.
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