We had a fun-filled but packed Easter weekend, and so last night, when, after dinner with friends, we got home at 11:00pm with kids who had fallen asleep in the car, I reluctantly set my alarm for 7:15am, packed up what I could for the next day’s lunch, made some play dough (that we would need for our outing) and went to bed.

When I woke up at 7:00am, I crept downstairs and deleted the alarm. The kids were still sleeping, and I considered just skipping the science workshops for which I had signed up the older two. But at 7:30, Noah came hopping into the kitchen. I asked the-boy-with-an-aversion-to-organized-activities if he’d like to go to the Centre d’interprétation des énergies renouvelables (renewable energy learning centre) or just have a lazy day at home. Surprisingly, he chose the former! We had breakfast together, and then I woke up Zahra just in time for her to get dressed and eat her breakfast in the car on the way there. (Saïd and Leila took advantage of their daddy-daughter day to sleep in late, watch TV and work on the drone.)

aquaponicsThe irony of driving my gas-powered car 70 kilometres to Richelieu to learn about renewable energy did not escape me. But I think it was worth it. The centre itself is quite impressive: a small building using hydro, solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy, with a compost toilet and an aquaponics set-up. Christine took the time to explain how the centre uses these renewable energy sources. I was particularly fascinated by the aquaponics experiment in the greenhouse: plants growing in bins of clay marbles (no dirt!) and fed with a tub of water underneath in which there were about 60 goldfish. The fish water is cleaned and filtered by the plants. And while there are goldfish there now (they are only two months into the project), the goal is to replace them with trout so that this one system produces both your meat and your vegetables! We were also shown a much smaller system that uses the plastic jugs of water delivery companies. In there, you can grow herbs on the top and just keep a couple goldfish in the bottom. Cue the PFS (Project for Saïd) radar. I told him all about it the minute we got home. He seems lukewarm to the idea, which is as good as a go.

volcano worksheetAfter the tour, we went upstairs where Christine gave us a presentation about the different types of volcanos and the kids filled out a worksheet to identify the different parts of a volcano. Then we went downstairs to build and erupt our own volcanos made of play dough with baking soda and vinegar. A break for lunch was next, followed by the second subject of the day: hydroelectric power. There was a presentation about how the turbines work and examples of hydroelectric plants and how they’re managed. Our second experiment involved building mini turbines and having a contest to see which team’s turbine spun the fastest and thus produced the most electricity.


making a volcano

renewable energymaking a turbinefine motor skillslittle scientistrenewable energywinning team

















At 2:00, it was time to go home. Because of the pouring rain, I thought it was a great day to have spent indoors, but the kids begged to differ. When they got home, they grabbed umbrellas and ran around outside before dinner.