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Science House: A Resource Center for Educators in the Science Museum of Minnesota's Big Back Yard
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Science House, a four-season, 1,700-square-foot building located in the Science Museum of Minnesota's 1.2-acre Big Back Yard.
Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, between the Science Museum of Minnesota and Shepard Road.
Science House opened with the Grand Opening of the Big Back Yard in June 2004. Today it houses the Science Museum's innovative Resource Center for Educators.
WHY IT'S IMPORTANT
Science House is now home to the museum's Science House: A Resource Center for Educators, where Minnesota's science teachers gain access to the best in hands-on classroom science materials, consult with science education experts, and discuss education issues with friends and colleagues in a relaxed and creative environment.
Science House is both a vibrant, professional home for teachers and an environmental experiment. It is designed to work as a zero-emissions building, producing all its own energy needs on an annual basis.
Buildings account for about 35 percent of all energy consumption in the world. Their large energy "appetites" contribute to the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This in turn increases global warming, the discharges of nitrous oxides that worsen smog, the production of particulates that aggravate asthma, and the release of mercury that results in fish consumption advisories.
By bringing together energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, Science House tests the idea that, even in Minnesota's climate, buildings can be constructed to generate much if not all of their annual energy needs.
HOW IT WORKS
Science House has a solar photovoltaic metal roof that generates electricity from sunlight to heat and cool itself. This electricity powers a ground-source heat pump that will extract heat from the Earth and pump it into Science House in the winter, then draw heat out and dissipate it into the Earth in the summer.
In addition, Science House features highly energy-efficient windows and doors, wall insulation, and appliances, along with careful lighting design.
Science House does not store electricity. When it is generating more electricity than it needs to use, it backfeeds current to the Science Museum, thus requiring the museum to draw a bit less off of the electrical grid than it otherwise would. Conversely, Science House draws current from the Science Museum when it is using more electricity than it is generating. During these times, the museum draws a bit more off of the grid than it otherwise would.
An electric meter in the Science House utility closet scrolls forwards and backwards depending on whether the building is operating in a deficit or surplus mode.
Due to its use as the Resource Center for Educators, Science House is no longer open to museum visitors. For more information, visit www.smm.org/sciencehouse.