Vicenza students receive lesson in energy awareness
October 31, 2013
Environmental Chief Jim Lessard of USAG Vicenza's Directorate of Public Works Environmental Office, and a number of his engineers, have spent a lot of time in grade school lately.
Throughout the month of October, Lessard and his team conducted energy use and conservation awareness sessions throughout Vicenza Military Community schools as a contribution to Energy Awareness Month activities.
They've not only recounted the basics of energy conservation and contemporary green technological development to school children of all ages, they've learned a thing or two themselves. For instance, some second-graders pay a lot more attention to the world around them than some adults may give them credit for.
"They're all different," said Lessard, as his team finished up their monthlong outreach Oct. 21 with a presentation to Trina Downey's second-grade class at Vicenza Elementary School. For the younger children, he and his crew simplified some of the basic alternative energy concepts, presenting ideas in the form of personalities such as Wendy Wind, Geothermal Johnny, Solar Sally and Biomass Bill.
The second-graders were with the engineers all the way. In a short quiz at the end, Downey's students were able to identify various technologies and processes with the right characters almost without fail.
"They knew the pictures of the wind turbines," said Brandy Reed, an industrial engineer with DPW's Business Operations and Integration Division. "They were familiar with solar panels and identified them with what they see on post."
"They knew about the earth's core," said Kerry Van Everen, an industrial and mechanical engineer with DPW. "The middle schoolers last week didn't know that."
"They understand the recycling concept and a lot of them have seen wind turbines," said Lessard.
The engineers fielded questions as well. One of Downey's precocious students wanted to know how a wind turbine actually produces energy. Van Everen responded with thumbnail explanation of how gears and generators are used to harness the power of the wind.
Another child wanted to know what people would do if there were too much energy?
"That would be an interesting problem to have to deal with," said Reed.
Not every child could identify every process, but there was an interestingly acute mix of understanding along with the usual uncertainty among the youngsters.
"You run the whole gamut of understanding," said Downey.
"It all depends on their own experience, what they hear from their parents and what they may see when they travel with their families. If anything, it's a good exposure, so when they hear it again some will connect it with this," she said.
"You've been a great class and you really surprised us with your knowledge," Lessard said.