A few weeks ago, I saw the movie, New Year’s Eve. While it was cute, charming, and had a breezy plot (just what you would expect), the part that intrigued me the most was about the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball. I won’t spoil the movie for you, but part of the plot is that half way up the 77 foot climb to the top of the pole, the ball shorts and half the lights in the Ball go out. They have to call in an expert to fix it and he has to go through every light (there are 32,256 Light Emitting Diodes, or LED lights) until he figures out which light had shorted. I won’t tell you what happens, but I will discuss a little bit more about the Ball and it’s journey to energy efficiency.
According to the Times Square Alliance Website, the ball is a geodesic sphere that is 12 feet in diameter and weighs in at 11,875 pounds. Every year at 11:59, it makes it’s descent to the bottom at exactly midnight, signifying the beginning of a New Year (and for many the hope for change and a new beginning).
On to the energy part! From 2000 until 2007, the Ball was illuminated by 168 Philips Halogena Brilliant Crystal light bulbs, 432 Philips Interior Light Bulbs (208 clear, 56 red, 56 blue, 56 green, and 56 yellow), and 96 high-intensity strobe bulbs. The Ball totaled in 696 lights and 90 rotating mirrors controlled by a computer.
In 2009, the Times Square Alliance switched from the Halogena bulbs to LED lights, making the Ball 20% more energy efficient than the previous Ball. LED lights last 3 times longer than Halogena bulbs and are 80% more efficient. There are 2,688 triangles that are bolted to 672 LED modules, which are attached to the frame. These 672 modules each contain 48 LED lights (12 red, 12 blue, 12 green and 12 white). This means that there are 32,256 LED lights on the ball, 8,064 of each color. By mixing the colors, the Ball can produce over 16 million colors and billions of patterns. Philips Lighting provides all of the lighting technology for the Ball and their hard work has increased the Ball’s color capabilities and energy efficiency. The Ball consumes 32,000 watt hours every 30 minutes, which is equivalent to the amount of energy it would take to operate two traditional home ovens for one hour.
Now, we can’t forget the addition of the giant ’20-something’ sign (2009, 2010, 2011, etc.) made of LED lights. Beginning in 2009, Duracell wanted to include New York City residents and visitors by allowing them to pedal stationary bikes to help power this sign. Last year, these bikes collected (actually stored in batteries) over 95 hours of energy, or about 35% of the total energy needed to light up the sign.
Philips Lighting Company’s Director of Corporate Communications, Susan Blooms, stated that they “are proud to be driving innovative and energy-efficient solutions for the world’s broad range of lighting applications…Now bigger in size and incorporating even more powerful and energy-efficient Philips Luxeon LEDs than [previous] years.”
For more information on the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball, visit these sites.
To close this, I would like to leave you with my favorite quote from New Year’s Eve. In the movie when the ball was suspended half way up that pole, Hilary Swank, who played the Vice-President of the Times Square Alliance, spoke about the difficulty in getting the ball to work.
“It’s suspended there to remind us before we pop the champagne and celebrate the new year, to stop and reflect on the year that has gone by. To remember both our triumphs and our missteps, our promises made and broken. The times we opened ourselves up to great adventures or closed ourselves down for fear of getting hurt because that is what New Year’s is all about- getting another chance. A chance to forgive, to do better, to do more, to give more, to love more. And stop worrying about what if and start embracing what would be. So when that ball drops at midnight and it will drop, let’s remember to be nice to each other, kind to each other. And not just tonight, but all year long.”
So, from all of us at NEED, we wish our teachers, partners, students, parents, and friends a Happy New Year and best wishes for great success in energy education in 2012.
Melanie Harper, Josh Rubin, Josh Melanson and Don Pruett taught four workshops at the National Science Teachers Association’s regional conference held in Seattle, WA this past December 8th – 10th, 2011. Melanie Harper is a Program Associate with NEED. Josh Rubin and Don Pruett are both on the NEED Teacher Advisory Board. Josh Melanson is a local teacher at Hazen High School who uses NEED materials in his classroom. The four classes taught at the conference were: Teaching Electricity Through Hydropower, Career Currents: Energy Careers, Credit Recovery: Energy as a Theme for Credit Recovery Success and School Energy Survey.
The Hydropower workshop was a three hour workshop where teachers spent the majority of the time building and exploring hydropower models. The elementary teachers spent time building an elementary hydropower model with Josh Rubin and Melanie helping them succeed in understanding the transfer of energy. The elementary teachers then built the intermediate hydropower model and were very excited to complete it. The intermediate and secondary teachers worked on their models with Don and Josh Melanson. It was a great group of teachers to work with as they were involved in building models and excited about learning the hydropower curriculum.
Melanie led a session on her about careers in energy. Melanie had a small but interested group in the types of jobs available in the energy industry. You can find more about energy careers in NEED’s newsletter, Career Currents.
The end of the day was highlighted when Josh Rubin, Don and Melanie visited the top of the Space Needle. This time of year to have a cloudless evening in Seattle is rare. It was also close to a full moon, so the view was awesome. Josh Melanson was unable to join us as he was being a good student and attending his physics class at the University of Washington.
Friday was another gorgeous day in Seattle. A gorgeous day in December in Seattle means the sun is out and there is no rain. It actually only warmed up to 38 degrees. Josh Rubin, being from Palo Alto, was cold most of the time. Don and Josh Melanson had a small but intimate group of teachers for their class, Credit Recovery. Most of the teachers taught in alternative schools. Rather than do a stand up lecture, we circled up the chairs and discussed means to use the various NEED energy projects in the alternative school environment along with addressing the challenges the alternative students face. Melanie and Josh Rubin finished the day off with their School Energy Survey.
The four NEED facilitators attended the NSTA exhibition floor where rows and rows of vendors sell their wares. The most intriguing new item Don saw was a sink top micro-hydro generator called the “PowerWheel.” The power wheel is designed to create energy when the power goes out from the water pressure from your kitchen sink and used to teach about energy, conservation and sustainability. Josh Melanson ran across the American Nuclear Society booth that was giving out replicas of a uranium pellet. The energy from one uranium pellet equals the amount of energy from one ton of coal. Josh was excited because just around the corner was the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SEM). SEM was giving out free lumps of coal. Josh didn’t have to wait for Santa this year for a lump of coal, as now he has a great visual for his students to show how much energy can be obtained from 2000 pieces of coal (one ton) compared to one uranium pellet.
All in all, the group was enjoyable to work with and these few days together provided a great opportunity to spread the NEED message.
PS: Don was excited to meet Page Keeley, 2008-2009 NSTA president and popular author of Uncovering Student Ideas in Science series. Page had just finished one of her very popular workshops and was cleaning up as Don entered to set up for his workshop.
The NEED Project and the Society of Petroleum Engineers work together to provide classroom teachers with valuable teaching tools and teacher professional development. The SPE Energy4Me lessons and activities are great resources for use in the classroom. Visit energy4me.org to pull down lessons, presentations, and more. Have students interested in becoming engineers? Have them check out the worldwide reach of the Society of Petroleum Engineers at spe.org. NEED is grateful for the support of SPE.
The tour started off at the Ellison Miles Geotechnology Institute (EMGI) where Dallas section members Toni Lott, Brad Robinson, Deborah Hempel-Medina, Brian Chacka, and Patrick Crawford made a presentation covering the history of Oil and Natural Gas, Geology and the History of Barnett Shale, Drilling a well, and Hydraulic Fracturing. Teachers were engaged in the presentations and asked the presenters a lot of questions to get a better understanding of the industry and how they could relay the information to their students in the classroom.
After the overview, everyone was styling in their safety gear as they prepared to go out into the field. Each participant wore steeled toed boots, fire retardant overalls, safety glasses, ear plugs, and hard hats. The teachers were able to visit three sites where they learned firsthand about safety, advance technologies, and rules and regulations all involved in operating each site. The sites teachers visited are listed as follows.
After a full day of touring, teachers headed back to the Dallas Convention Center full of knowledge about the industry, their hard hat as a souvenir, and information to take back to their classrooms that included an “Oil and Natural Gas” book.
This workshop was made possible by the Ellison Miles Geotechnology Institute, Society of Petroleum Engineers-Dallas Section, Halliburton Energy Services, Williams Company, Devon Energy Company, Baker-Hughes Oilfield Services and Chesapeake Energy.
Learn more about careers in the industry.
Nearly 70% of U.S. households have a tree prominently displayed inside their house this time of year. Some people choose to cut down real trees, while others use artificial trees. No matter what type of tree you have though, chances are that it is decorated with holiday lights. Strings of holiday lights aren’t just on trees, they also decorate the exteriors of residential and commercial buildings. When you add up all of those little lights that make our holidays brighter, it can get quite expensive.
Each tiny incandescent bulb on a string of lights consumes approximately 0.4 watts each (shown below). If you have 100 lights on a light strand, the strand is consuming 40 watts. Most of the electricity consumed doesn’t even help your decorations sparkle. Traditional holiday lights transform only about five percent of the power that they use into light, while the rest is emitted as heat. Colored incandescent holiday lights are even less efficient, with as little as one percent of the energy being converted to light. Considering that there are 37.1 billion bulbs operating for approximately 150 hours each year, the total electricity consumption is 2,200 GWh, according to a 2006 ENERGY STAR study.
Today there are many options for holiday lights including ENERGY STAR qualified light strings. In order to qualify for the ENERGY STAR rating light strings must consume at least 70% less energy than conventional incandescent strands. They also last up to 10 times longer than traditional lights.
The most energy efficient light strands on the market are those that use light emitting diodes, better known as LEDs (shown below). LED light strands use up to 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light. LED holiday lights come in all different colors, sizes, shapes, and patterns.
Although LEDs tend to cost more than incandescents, they last much longer and consume only a fraction of the energy.
According to ENERGY STAR, if all decorative light strings sold in the U.S. this year were ENERGY STAR qualified, we would save over 700 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year!
If you would like to compare electricity consumption and costs of various holiday lights, you can use this handy Holiday Lighting Calculator from Dominion Power.