Energy-Efficient Wares On Display At Convention Center

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October 11, 2008
By LYNN DOAN, Hartford Courant

Tim Van Deusen, owner of Pro-Film Professional Window Tinting of Torrington, uses a BTU meter to demonstrate the heat rejection properties of window tinting film at the OneThing Conservation Expo at the Connecticut Convention Center. (BOB MACDONNELL / HARTFORD COURANT / October 10, 2008)

Benjamin Tranel, 12, stood in a maze and stared at the question printed on the wall before him: “Where does energy come from?” If you agree that it grows on trees, the writing on the wall instructed, take a left. If you disagree, take a right. Benjamin took a left. Dead end. “It doesn’t?” asked the seventh-grader at Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School in New Haven. He then turned right and learned that energy comes from a variety of sources, such as oil, the sun and wind — but that it definitely doesn’t grow on trees.

Benjamin was one of about 1,000 elementary school students who toured the OneThing Expo on Friday in Hartford, a convention that Gov. M. Jodi Rell promoted as the “World’s Fair of Energy Conservation.” More than 250 exhibitors from Maine to Maryland showed their energy-efficient wares and doled out conservation tips at the Connecticut Convention Center.

It was part of Rell’s campaign to get Connecticut residents and businesses to do “one thing” to reduce their energy use and, as a result, reduce energy prices and protect the environment. The OneThing Expo will be open to the public today from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Friday was set aside for children.

Classes from grades 3-6, primarily from Hartford, weaved through rows of vendor booths, talked with state officials about energy and the environment and then made their way to a traveling children’s exhibit that debuted at the expo Friday. The exhibit, built by the Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk, took children through a maze filled with questions about energy, like “Do you use energy every day?” and “What is energy?”

There was also the occasional energy joke: “How did Benjamin Franklin feel when he discovered electricity? Shocked.”

The maze delivered the students into the “Conservation Quest,” where they could turn cranks to light up electronic devices with various types of model generators, like hydropower and solar power. The exhibit also featured simple things that children can do themselves to cut down on energy use, like leaving the window rolled up in the car while moving along the highway.

The goal of the exhibit is to instill the habit of conserving energy early so it becomes second-nature to them as adults, museum officials said. It also wouldn’t hurt, they said, if the children took some lessons home for their parents.

“Kids aren’t going out and purchasing fridges, but they can get in on the conversation,” said Kim Kuta, the museum’s content specialist. “They aren’t out driving cars, but they can tell their parents to roll up the windows in the car.”

Admission to the OneThing Expo is $8 for adults, $4 for seniors and is free for children under 12.