30 MAY 2012
Bravo Gansbaai! What a pleasure it was to visit such a vibrant community.
Whale Coast Conservation brought its sustainable energy roadshow – funded by Lotto – to Gansbaai on Wednesday 30 May. The expo was enthusiastically hosted by Laerskool Gansbaai in their school hall, and that enthusiasm was the keynote for the entire day.
Each class visited the exhibits in turn, starting with the pre-schoolers and working up to well-informed, bright and interested Grade 6s. Later in the day, a group of top students from Masakhane Primary visited with their science teacher, courtesy of transport provided by Dyer Island Conservation Trust, which also sponsors the Gansbaai node of the WCC Eco-Schools. The Green Futures and Growing the Future learners from Grootbos also came, notebooks in hand. What a pleasure it was for the exhibitors to interact with all these top students who will be the future scientists and leaders in our community.
Many of the learners who had been to the expo returned later with their families in tow to show them what they had experienced and what they had learned. What a delight to hear a 10-year old explaining to granny that the bungee-jumping teddy bear illustrated potential and kinetic energy.
Over 500 visitors of all ages were fascinated by the sun-powered toys and the ‘jet’ car propelled by air pressure inside an empty 2-litre plastic bottle. Other toys illustrated the principles of wind turbines of various designs, and hydrogen-powered cars. A battery-powered bicycle had youngsters vying for a turn to take it for a spin. Light boxes with thermometers illustrated the relative energy efficiency of incandescent, compact fluorescent and LED light sources.
The merry-energy-go-round had universal appeal, ranging from simply getting the lights on the top to shine by using ‘child energy’, to a more sophisticated understanding of how the motion of the roundabout can be converted into electricity by a generator.
Energy conservation was illustrated by the ladies from Vuka who showed how to cook using minimum fuel with the use of a simple brick oven and a hot box or ‘pot duvet’. There were also simple solar cookers on display. A solar water heating display explained the cost benefits of using the sun for heating water and how to access the Eskom rebate.
The model of a wave slot energy converter proposal by Abagold was the object of much interest. Here was an innovative project to harvest the energy of the waves to generate the huge amount of electricity needed by an abalone farm.
The day culminated with a talk by Whale Coast Conservation Manager Rob Fryer on practical ways of moving towards sustainable energy use in the home.
He pointed out that becoming energy efficient starts with a mind shift. Everyone has to become conscious of the energy we use (and waste) and make a decision about first conserving energy, then about moving gradually towards supplementing our coal-generated electricity with renewable energy sources and to aspire to eventually becoming self-sufficient in our energy needs. Considering the increasing cost of electricity and potential unreliability of supply, this could only be to our own benefit, as well as our contribution to a decreased ‘footprint’ on the earth.