Come to Energy Day for a fun look into the future (and for funnel cake)!

What do funnel cakes and energy have in common?

That’s not a question most people ask. Thankfully there’s an easy answer and that’s Houston’s Energy Day this Saturday, Oct. 17 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.! Houston’s Energy Day is the largest free family festival focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), and they also have funnel cakes for sale! It’s a huge festival down in Sam Houston Park near the Heritage Society Museum.


You can expect lots of awesome booths with fun activates and giveaways, and something fun for everybody. At the Navy booth, you can drive an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) around a swimming pool. You can explore the interior of a NISSAN Leaf electric car. NASA will be on-site for cool giveaways, and both the Houston Rockets and the Houston Astros will have booths, so you can shoot some hoops and play a game of catch (though probably not at the same time).


In addition to all the fun activities, there will be an award ceremony for the winners of several contests that have been going on during the year, such as The Houston Geological Society/Houston Museum of Natural Science/Consumer Energy Alliance Art, Essay & Media Contests. Winning students and teachers will receive scholarship money and a photo holding the big check.

Art Essay and and Media Contest

Live music will play between the award ceremonies. Alongside all the festivities and funnel cakes, our museum will be there, of course! I’ll be playing with a Van de Graaf generator (shocking I know), we’ll have a cast of some dinosaur bones for you to touch, and much, much more.


So sleep in that Saturday and in the late morning, head down to Sam Houston Park for a free, fun-filled festival! See you there!

In the meantime, take a look at the rest of these other images from Energy Day in previous years.



Taking only what we need: What The Borrowers can teach us about energy conservation

Movies are always a great go-to conversation starter. Everyone has their favorite films and comfort movies to turn to when they’re down. But while you can generally get a group of friends to agree on whether a movie is well-made, it can be harder to get people to agree on a film they all want to see.

While my own taste skews toward the unique, the unusual and the unknown, there are some movies (and movie studios) that I go to again and again. It’s even better when I can take a good film and apply it to a real issue, like The Secret World of Arrietty, by Studio Ghibli, based on Mary Norton’s 1952 Carnegie Medal-winner The Borrowers. The award-winning Borrowers series (The Borrowers Afield, The Borrowers Afloat, The Borrowers Aloft, and The Borrowers Avenged) has been around for some time and has been continually adapted for the big and small screens, with the latest coming from the BBC this year and starring Stephen Fry.

For those unfamiliar, The Borrowers are a family of little people who live in between the walls and under the floorboards of the houses of us big folk. They are able to keep up a pretty enjoyable lifestyle by going out and “borrowing” things from the big people. They take only what they need, never enough to be noticed, and avoid contact with the big people. (In the books and films, Arrietty, the young, fearless daughter, has problems following that all-important final rule.)

Learning about energy conservation from The BorrowersWhile it’s probably not a good idea to “borrow” energy like the borrowers do (with no intention of returning or reimbursing what’s “borrowed”) the little guys do have a few insights into energy conservation.

Because the borrowers don’t live in a world designed for them, they are forced to plan out what they need and what they use. A borrower’s expedition into a vast big person’s house can be dangerous, so to minimize the risk, they plan ahead.

In contrast, big people like us seem to have an overabundance of everything and don’t tend to notice if a sugar cube or two is gone. And unfortunately, we like to treat energy the same way. We leave lights on in offices and homes. We leave computers running for days at a time. We plug in electronics that drain power even when they’re off. When it comes to energy use, big people need to think more like the borrowers.

First, we have to make a plan for what we need. There are a number of great places for energy literacy. A great place to start is our own Wiess Energy Hall and our Energy Conservation Club. Other places to borrow some energy literacy are the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED) and the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).

After you get a grip on what you need, you can figure out how much time, energy, and money you’ll need to get it. But before you resort to borrowing, there are some great resources for watching your spending. Turn off the lights and the fan when you leave a room. Unplug appliances that are energy vampires, such as the TV, video game systems, cell phone chargers, and coffee pots. Get a power strip and plug all the vampire appliances into it, so you only have one button to turn on and off.

When the borrowers borrow, they don’t take anything that will missed. You can do the same with energy rebates. There are incentives to help with renewable energies and getting energy-efficient equipment.

The borrowers live happy little lives. Apart from the dangers presented by the big people, they seem to want for nothing. They are able to use their intelligence and thriftiness to survive, and we should do the same.

You can learn more about energy conservation this Saturday, Oct. 20, by joining HMNS at Energy Day 2012, hosted Downtown at Hermann Square. Located in front of City Hall, Hermann Square will be bustling from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with family-friendly fun and games, food and live music — all for free!

Calling all creatives: The 2012 Art, Essay and Media contest is accepting entrants grades K-12

Know a creative kiddo with a penchant for all things scientific? An enthusiasm for energy? A fervor for fuel, or a curiosity about where it all comes from?

earth science week

Enter Energy Day. Now in its second year, the Energy Day Festival, held downtown Oct. 20 at Hermann Square Park, aims to teach kids to be better stewards of the earth while propelling interested students to explore careers in science and technology.

In collaboration with the Energy Day Academic Program and Energy Day’s year-long efforts to engage students in energy education, HMNS’ Wiess Energy Hall‘s Energy Conservation Club has partnered with the Houston Geological Society and the Consumer Energy Alliance to put on one of six city-wide competitions designed to motivate students interested in science and technology careers.

For the 2012 Art, Essay and Media contest, students grades K-5 are encouraged to submit a work of art that illustrates the connection between the energy sources we use and our lifestyles — both today and in the future.

Students grades 6-9 may submit an essay imagining themselves as scientists or engineers 20 years in the future. How are they ensuring the U.S. has the energy it needs for future generations? That’s the challenge.

Finally, students of all ages may compete in the media and photography contest documenting “Energy Choices for Sustainability.”

The entry deadline is Monday, April 30, so get those entries in! Prizes from $50 to $250 will be awarded to the first, second and third-place entrants in each category and will be presented during Energy Day on Oct. 20, where winning projects will also be on display from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Hermann Square Park downtown.

check reception

Additionally, teachers of the winning students are eligible to win a matching award as well as teaching materials. Educators can find resources for teaching about earth science and energy here and here.

Can’t wait ’til October? Come celebrate Earth Day 2012 at HMNS April 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To learn more about Energy Day or enter the Art, Essay and Media contest, click here!


HMNS thanks the Marathon Oil Corporation for its generous support of the Energy Conservation Club.