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Question the future of energy

When we were growing up, visiting an educational exhibition meant hours of staring at displays, perusing plaques and studying information boards. There was usually a guide who, while extremely knowledgeable about the subject at hand, was never quite sure how to cope with 20-odd kids unused to extra-curricular freedom. Sometimes, there was a gift shop (cue mad dash for personalised pencils and sparkly keyrings) or a café (ditto sandwiches and soft drinks)… Thinking back, I’m not sure we learnt a lot, other than how to avoid our teachers and rile the guide with nonsensical questions. These days, however, exhibition organisers have realised that kids (and adults!) need to be thoroughly engaged to learn, and we’re seeing the rise of the massively entertaining ‘interactive exhibition’. Luckily, there’s just such a treat in store this coming week, with the opening of the brilliantly interactive ‘Energies for a Sustainable World’ exhibition in Nicosia…

Presented by the French Institut in collaboration with The Cyprus Institute (whose Scientific Coordinator, Dr Nicholas Jarraud, is overseeing the exhibition) and the Ministry of Education and Culture, Energies for a Sustainable World is the creation of Centre-Sciences CCSTI in France, and is billed as “an interactive journey to understand what energy is, how it is manufactured, stored, managed and saved”. An itinerant exhibition, it will open in Cyprus on February 9 at the French Institut and promises, say organisers, “20 experiments that visitors will enjoy, which raise questions about the future of energy”.

“This will be a great chance for people of any age to learn about energy,” says Martine Erotokritou, Communications officer at the French Institut. “Especially for secondary school children who are studying the subject as part of their science curriculum. It’s a good way to raise awareness of the problems we face with energy today, and to take a look at how we can change from fossil fuels to alternative sources.”

Comprising 20 interactive exhibits, Energies for a Sustainable World is set to follow on the heels of the Institut’s successful ‘Volcanology’ exhibition, which saw some 8,000 visitors mesmerised by the study and history of our world’s volcanoes. “With this exhibition we’re hoping for just as many,” says Martine, explaining that guides from the Institut will be on hand at all times, ready to explain and encourage. “I think it’s especially valuable for children,” she adds. “Because the future of energy – and of our planet – is really in their hands.”

Whether you’re part of a school group, family or merely an interested individual, the exhibition is entirely free of charge, and certain to be an entertaining learning opportunity. The exhibit Producing Energy, for example, shows how muscular output can produce mechanical, electrical and thermal energy through a rotating disc which activates a dynamo connected to a bulb, a voltmeter and a thermometer. (Word to the wise: the rotating disc is attached to a bicycle of sorts, so you’re may be using a bit of pedal power to light the room!)
There’s also an exhibit entitled Energy, What A Lot of Work! which takes a closer look at the comparison between energy used and work accomplished by means of a model of a horse and plough, a weighing scale and a few complicated graphics, while another experiment investigates the greenhouse effect through the use of “a small terrestrial globe maintained at a higher temperature than its surroundings; an infrared thermometer, and a transparent half sphere”… The mind boggles!

Segueing through Energy Diversity, Energy Sources, Increasing Output and How Do We Store Energy, the exhibition includes such pressing matters as how our resources are produced, where they’re stored, where they go (Who Consumes the Most Energy involves a guessing game – unless you know your stuff, that is! – with a map of the Earth and rods signifying total consumption in different economic regions), how we can stop wasting energy and how we can produce energy from the sun.

In all, it’s set to be a fascinating and utterly interactive look at what we’re doing with our energy resources and – more importantly – how we can move into a more sustainable future. And while there may not be too many sparkly keyrings involved, what you’ll take away from Energies for a Sustainable World is probably far more lasting!

Energies for a Sustainable World
Interactive exhibition at the French Institut from February 9 to March 4. Opening hours are 8.30am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday. Entrance is free of charge. School groups are welcome if booked in advance. For more information visit www.ifchypre.org, email [email protected] or call 22 459333


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