Wonder Contributors

Don’t forget Wonder Friends that April 22nd is Earth Day! How will you celebrate?  

Wonder Friends have already experienced the musical side of Motown. Today, it’s time to take a look at the automotive side!

By now, you’ve probably heard about hybrid cars. They’ve been around for several years, and their popularity continues to grow. You may even have one in your family or know someone who drives a hybrid.

But what exactly is a hybrid? Regular cars have only engines powered by gasoline. Hybrid cars, on the other hand, can be powered by both a gasoline engine and an electric battery.

Why would automobile makers create cars that also run on electric batteries? The electric batteries in hybrid cars allow these cars to use gasoline more efficiently. At low speeds, hybrid cars can run on just the electric battery. This reduces the amount of gasoline the car uses.

At higher speeds, the gasoline engine kicks in to provide more power. When the gasoline engine runs, the electric battery recharges. That way it will have plenty of power again later when it’s needed.

As technology improves, automobile makers are constantly improving their hybrid car systems. Today, there are several different types of hybrid cars available. There are small differences in the way they work, but the basic idea remains the same: use an electric battery to improve the gas mileage you get from the gasoline-powered engine.

The next wave of hybrid cars are expected to be plug-in hybrid cars that can run solely on either electric or gasoline power. To charge these cars, owners will need to plug them into a power source to recharge the electric batteries when they get low on power.

In addition to getting great gas mileage, hybrid cars are also good for the environment. Since some of their power is produced by electric batteries, hybrid cars emit fewer fumes (pollution) than regular gasoline-powered cars.

However, before you think about buying a hybrid car, you will also need to take their price into account. Most hybrid cars are several thousand dollars more expensive than their “regular” car counterparts. This means that much of the money you save on gasoline will be spent upfront by paying more for the car at the beginning.

Despite their higher cost, though, hybrids are attractive to many people because of their beneficial impact on the environment. Just be sure to do your research before you set your sights on a hybrid car. It’s always good to consider both the pros and the cons when making any major decision!

30 Join the Discussion

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  1. No! :( I was wrong again. Today’s wonder of the day is not about car batteries dying. However, I loved today’s wonder! :D I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day is about hot temperatures.

    TJ

    • Today’s Wonder has something to do with car batteries that are chargeable, though, TJ! You were super close! We’re proud of you for trying your best to guess each next day’s Wonder. Thanks for being a friend of Wonderopolis! :-)

    • That’s a GREAT guess about tomorrow’s Wonder, Wonder Girl! Thanks so much for sharing it with us and THANKS for visiting Wonderopolis! :-)

    • How exciting, Wonder! We hope you have had a GREAT school year and that you visit us here in Wonderopolis over the summer…we’ve got some WONDERful things planned for all of our Wonder Friends! :-)

    • Hi, Caelah! We hope you are having a GREAT day today! We encourage you to re-explore today’s Wonder to learn what a hybrid is! There are some REALLY COOL facts that we think you will find WONDERfully interesting! :-)

  2. Cool! I think I want a hybrid car when I get older. I think tomorrow’s wonder is going to be about heat waves or maybe the beach?

    • Thanks so much for stopping by today’s Wonder of the Day® and learning along with us, AJ! You can mail your letter to us at this address:

      Wonderopolis HQ
      325 West Main Street, Suite 300
      Louisville, KY 40202

      Have a WONDERful day! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing your comment with us today, John, and THANKS for visiting Wonderopolis! We appreciate your opinion! :-)

  3. Noooooo I was not right. I think tomorrow’s wonder is how hot the sun is.
    Last day of school tomorrow only 2 hours.

    • We bet you’re super excited for summer vacation, Julia! We hope you’ll continue to visit us here in Wonderopolis over the break…we’ve got SO MANY awesome Wonders coming up and other SUPER FUN things planned! :-)

  4. I think that with the economy so bad and people losing money, I think those cars will work great. (if the price was not so high.)

    I have a site I want you to go to to Yadkinville Elementary then click on yes staff sites next go to Mrs. Shore’s 3rd grade afterwards, explore her site.

    • Hi, Noel! Thank you for telling us your thoughts about hybrid cars today and THANKS for sharing about Mrs. Shore’s website! She sounds like a WONDERful teacher and we bet it’s a LOT of FUN to be a student at Yadkinville Elementary! :-)

    • We’re glad to learn a little bit about you, Holly! We think it’s super neat that you are Noel’s sister and that you like to visit Wonderopolis together! That ROCKS! :-)

  5. Hey, me again did you get my mom’s email? ANYWAYS…. I CAN’T WAIT FOR CAMP WHAT A WONDER! And I LOVED today’s wonder.
    Peace
    ~Betsy

    • Happy Thursday, Betsy! We did get your mom’s email and we think it’s AWESOME that you guys are going to participate in so many WONDERful things to help your community this summer! We loved the picture your mom shared of you in your flamingo t-shirt! Do you know what? We can’t wait for Camp What-a-Wonder, either! It’s going to be the BEST WONDER SUMMER EVER! :-)

  6. I missed this one yesterday, so I thought I would come back and read it. I am glad I did, too!! I used to be so into hybrids and going green. I always told myself that I would go green and have my family go green, as well. Although my family does not own a hybrid, we do other things to save money and energy, just like you would do with owning a hybrid car. This was an awesome one. THANKS!!

    • We’re really glad you stopped by this Wonder today, too, boyWONDER! Thanks for sharing that you and your family do things to help the environment, use less energy and save money. We think that ROCKS! :-)

  7. I think it is the hottest place on the Earth, and I think that because, I think there it is a volcano because a volcano is very hot.

    • Thanks for guessing what you think the next Wonder of the Day® will be about, deantesman! We appreciate your comment! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing a little bit about yourself with everyone in Wonderopolis today, Rithik! We really enjoy learning new things about our Wonder Friends! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What is a hybrid?
  • How do hybrid cars work?
  • What are the pros and cons of hybrid cars?

Wonder Gallery

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-toyota-new-prius-hybrid-car-image16314764http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-hybrid-car-image9241417http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-plug-hybrid-electric-car-station-vehicle-charging-up-vermont-law-school-royalton-vermont-image31809355gas-pump_shutterstock_88200328 customVimeo Video

Try It Out

Aren’t hybrid cars cool? Keep learning about them by checking out one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • What kind of car will you drive when you get old enough? Do you think it will be a hybrid? Do you know anyone whose family drives a hybrid car already? Talk with a friend or family member about the changes they’ve seen in cars over the past 10-20 years. What changes do you think you’ll see in cars by the time you’re old enough to drive? People used to talk years ago about the “flying cars” of the future. So far, cars are still rooted firmly to the ground. Do you think you’ll see flying cars in your lifetime? Why or why not? Would you rather learn to drive or to fly?
  • Even if your family doesn’t drive a hybrid car now, there are still some things you can do to improve the gas mileage of your car and reduce the amount of fossil fuel your car uses. The next time you’re in the car, discuss these easy tips with your parents:
    • Slow down! Reducing your speed even a little can help you conserve on gas.
    • Carpool! If you’re going somewhere, share a ride. Heading to the school dance or a sporting event? Find several friends and ride together.
    • Combine trips! Before heading out to run errands, take some time to think about what you need to accomplish. If you don’t think in advance, you could find yourself making multiple trips…and wasting lots of gas!
  • Up for a challenge? Let’s say you’re ready to buy your first car. You have your eye on a particular model that comes in both a “regular” and a “hybrid” version. Use the Internet to find an example of such a vehicle and find out what the difference is between the cost of the two vehicles. Most likely, the hybrid version will be more expensive. Dig a little deeper in your research to determine what the difference is expected to be between the vehicles in terms of gas mileage. Calculate, based upon current gas prices, how much the gas money the hybrid will save you. Using all the data you’ve collected, determine how many miles you’ll have to travel before the extra cost of the hybrid version is offset by fuel cost savings. What do you think? Does it make sense to buy the hybrid version? Why or why not? Don’t forget to factor in other things, such as the positive impact on the environment of the hybrid version!

Still Wondering

In Science NetLinks’ Just Turn It Off lesson, children will probe the problem of what happens to a battery-operated flashlight when it is not turned off.

Test Your Knowledge

Wonder What’s Next?

Have you ever seen a rabbit with glasses? Find out why not in tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day! 

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