Deanna Oakes, 9, learns about energy from environmentalist and author Michael Caduto on Thursday during an event at the Bennington Free Library called
Deanna Oakes, 9, learns about energy from environmentalist and author Michael Caduto on Thursday during an event at the Bennington Free Library called “Kid’s Power: Energy Alternatives for Today’s Kids.” (Holly Pelczynski / Bennington Banner / photos.benningtonbanner.com)

BENNINGTON -- Award winning author Michael J. Caduto stopped by the Bennington Free Library on Thursday to teach a group of children about different types of energy.

The presentation was part of Caduto's "Kids' Power: Energy Alternatives for Today's Kids" program, and it included everything from music, to a Native American legend about how the sun was put into the sky, and demonstrations of how wind, the sun, and magnets can be used to generate electricity that we can use. The program culminated with a trip outside the library, where Caduto lit a fire inside a jar of methane gas he had collected from a swamp earlier in the day.

"I do a lot of work with science and stewardship," said Caduto, "which is taking care of the Earth. One of the big ways we can have an impact is in how much energy we use." He made sure to involve as many of the children in attendance as possible with each of his demonstrations. For one, a girl blew into a fan, which spun and turned on a light. In another, a girl read lines from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," by the light of a bulb powered only by a tiny solar panel. Finally, Caduto asked the children a series of increasingly difficult energy related questions, with the child who guessed closest to the correct answer taking home their very own pinwheel. When every child who answered vastly underestimated the distance between the Earth and Sun, he tried to put it into perspective, saying, "If you started driving to the sun when Abraham Lincoln was president, at 70 m.p.h., you'd just be getting there this year."

The program also included one of Caduto's own musical numbers. Playing an acoustic guitar, he lead the children and parents through the chorus, and encouraged them to sing along. The song, about animals who are losing their habitats due to global warming, reminded the listeners that the animals, "are wild and free, like we all used to be. They're all our relations."

"I've been telling these stories for 30 years," said Caduto, who has been featured on National Public Radio, the British Broadcasting Corporation, and other educational television. He is a member of the Vermont Arts Council, the New Hampshire Council on the Arts, and the Vermont Council on the Humanities. In 1984, he founded a service called Programs for Environmental Awareness and Cultural Exchange, or P.E.A.C.E., which "promotes understanding, awareness, appreciation, and stewardship as the foundation for building a harmonious, sustainable relationship between people and Earth, and among the cultures of the world," according to the program's website.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB