Expo educates children, adults
Fort Rucker Elementary School students learn about the transfer of potential and kinetic energy as they attempt to move balls on top of a parachute during the 2012 Fort Rucker Energy Expo at the festival fields Oct. 10.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 18, 2012) -- The future of energy use and fuel consumption is ever changing, and Fort Rucker aims to be at the forefront when it comes to implementing and educating people on the installation on going green.

Fort Rucker's Directorate of Public Works teamed up with the Fort Rucker Elementary School to host the 2012 Energy Expo at the festival fields Oct. 10 to educate people on why energy conservation is important, according to Trevor Martin, energy engineer for DPW.

"October is Energy Awareness Month, so we're trying to increase our efficiency on post, and reduce waste to save money," he said. "Some of the things we do to do that is implement technology, but the other part of it is raising awareness and having an energy-saving culture.

"This event helps promote that culture and lets people know what we're trying to do [on Fort Rucker]," he continued. "We want to show people that there are different technologies that are out there, and show them how they can save money at home or at the facilities that they work in."

Different vendors came to the expo to showcase various energy-saving technologies, from all-electric vehicles like the Tesla Roadster, to the Sun Oven, which cooks food using only energy and heat from the sun.

"The global Sun Oven heats up to 350 degrees, and you can cook things like a 12 pound turkey, bake bread, muffins, cookies, casseroles and brownies," said Craig McManus, Sun Oven owner, adding that the oven uses the greenhouse effect to cook food.

"The sunlight comes in and reflects off the reflectors and bounces into the oven," said Robert Weimer, solar installer. "When the light goes through the glass, the heat gets trapped inside and can't come back out."

The oven works completely independently of man-made power and can also be used to boil and sanitize water, added McManus.

Although the expo was a place where people could witness things like the Sun Oven, it was also an opportunity for the Fort Rucker Elementary School to teach its students about different types of energy and energy conservation.

"The children are learning about all kinds and types of energy, and how simple energy can be as well as how powerful it can be," said Vicki Gilmer, Fort Rucker Elementary School principal. "They've been learning about potential and kinetic energy, chemical and sound energy, as well as using elastic energy to do engineering design projects. [These activities] help them understand it on their level so that they can build on it in the future."

Some of the activities the children participated in were making pinwheels to demonstrate wind energy and using a parachute to demonstrate energy transfer as well as the greenhouse effect.

Ethan Hanks, a fifth grade student at Fort Rucker Elementary School, said his favorite part of the expo was the activities he did with his classmates with the parachute.

"I really liked doing the wind parachute and learning about kinetic energy," he said. "I learned about how the sun can go through things and how the heat gets trapped in, and that's how the greenhouse effect works."

Baily Nolan, Fort Rucker Elementary School fifth grader, said her favorite activity was the arts and crafts that they were able to do during the event.

"My favorite part of the day was making the pinwheels and learning about solar energy," she said. "I learned a lot of about solar power and how it can really help people. I also learned that solar power is a good way to go because wasting energy is not a very good thing to do."

Educating people was the main goal of the expo, and Martin said that it is important to start that education at a young age.

"It's a good thing to have them learn at a young age because it creates a culture for them," he said. "If they remember to close that door or shut that light off -- that's how we have to start."

The installation is not all about talking about energy conservation and no action, however. Martin said Fort Rucker has already implemented energy-saving technologies into many of the facilities on the installation, and has many more plans to do so in the future.

"We're actually in the process of putting in a solar array at Hatch Stage Field," He said. "Our goal is to make that stage field Net Zero."

Net Zero, which is when a facility generates as much renewable energy that is used, is the Army's ultimate goal when it comes to energy use, said Martin.

Page last updated Thu October 18th, 2012 at 10:58