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Solar Energy Adventure ready to launch

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FES Communication team members Kaitlin Pylypa and Valerie Miller film a new storytime video at the EPCOR kīsikāw pīsim solar farm.

FES Communication team members Kaitlin Pylypa and Valerie Miller film a new storytime video at the EPCOR kīsikāw pīsim solar farm.

Next FES children’s book explores the role of the sun

Remi the cat and Tommy the dog will embark on a new adventure next week, as Future Energy Systems (FES) launches the second installment in its popular series of Energy Adventures. Produced by the FES Communications team, with technical advice from researchers in the FES program, the Energy Adventure books introduce kids to fundamental concepts essential for the understanding of the energy transition. In Case of the Shiny Roof, attention turns skyward.

“Solar was one of the biggest topics of interest we heard from kids during events with our first Tommy and Remi book,” explains FES Outreach and Engagement Coordinator Valerie Miller, the series author. 

Working with series artist and FES Multimedia Outreach Assistant Kaitlin Pylypa, Valerie crafted the story to answer questions about the role of the sun’s energy in our environment, the importance of renewable resources, and how solar panels actually work. Technical advice and expertise came from FES and University of Alberta alumni Bing Cao, Adrian Velazquez, and Hal Friesen.

“We’re lucky to have access to so many technical experts who are also talented storytellers,” Valerie adds. “They give us a unique opportunity to get things right.” 

Hands on energy

Copies of all Tommy and Remi books are made available for free (while supplies last) to school and public libraries across Canada. So far, more than 300 copies of the first book, Mystery of the Glowing Light, have been placed across the country and beyond, and more will be dispatched this fall. Books are also available for sale at certain FES events.

“We’re still figuring out all the logistics, but every book someone buys lets us send a copy to libraries,” Valerie explains. 

Though books aren’t always available for families to purchase, the FES team ensures each story is as accessible as possible. At the start of June, they worked with the Calgary Central Library for a special storytime event which involved a reading of Mystery of the Glowing Light, followed by a series of science activities for the dozen families who attended. 

Valerie Miller reads The Mystery of the Glowing Light during a storytime event at the Calgary Central Library. 

As the pandemic gives way to more in-person programming, Valerie looks forward to hosting more events that give kids the chance to get hands-on with energy concepts.

“Our first event for Case of the Shiny Roof will be online in partnership with the Edmonton Public Library, but we’re planning for more in-person adventures in the coming months,” she says. 

Registration for the virtual launch event is open here

Shooting for the sun

One of the original reasons for launching the Tommy and Remi series was to support the FES Storytime video series on YouTube. Originally launched during the pandemic, this series saw Valerie reading energy-themed storybooks to kids online, and attracted thousands of viewers.

“With the end of most pandemic restrictions, many publishers are no longer approving the use of their books for online videos,” Valerie elaborates. “Fortunately, since FES is the publisher of the Energy Adventures, we grant permission for them to be online forever!” 

A full reading of Mystery of the Glowing Light –– complete with close-ups of the pages and special features –– can be found on the FES YouTube Channel. For Case of the Shiny Roof, the FES team has partnered with EPCOR to film a new storytime video at the kīsikāw pīsim solar farm in Edmonton –– a new facility whose name, meaning ‘daylight sun’ in Cree, was gifted to EPCOR by the Enoch Cree Nation. 

“We’re so honoured to have the chance to partner with EPCOR to showcase this wonderful project as part of the Tommy and Remi series,” Valerie says. “Being surrounded by the subjects of the story while you’re reading it is a lot of fun, and kids who tune in will see how big solar panels are in the real world!”

Adventures continue

The Tommy and Remi adventures have become an important asset in FES’ public education efforts around energy transition, which was recently recognized when the program was named a finalist in the Alberta Emerald Awards.

“We’re very privileged to have access to experts and resources to help share knowledge with the public,” Valerie says. “Sharing fundamental knowledge about energy systems will hopefully help families see themselves in the energy transition, and see ways they can help to battle climate change.” 

Future Tommy and Remi books will continue that process of education, with upcoming topics including energy storage and hydrogen. 

“The energy system is complex and all around us,” Valerie concludes. “Tommy and Remi will need to go on plenty of adventures to discover it all!” 

You can register for the next Tommy and Remi virtual event here.

Find the FES Storytime video playlist here