By Angela Williams, Army Flier Staff WriterMay 17, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 17, 2012) -- The students at Fort Rucker Elementary School danced, played games and waved a multi-colored parachute May 11 as they demonstrated some of the many things they had been learning about energy and conservation.
The school's energy fair highlighted some of the art projects and experiments students worked on during the week and featured several community partners such as Alabama Power, Pea River Electric and Enterprise High School physics students. Nissan and Chevrolet also displayed electric cars at the event.
"We were asked by the command to partner with them to do some energy awareness for the children," said Marcia Jones, math instructional support specialist and one of the event planners. "The children have been doing all types of energy activities in their classrooms. They learned a lot about energy conservation, different types of energy and a lot of vocabulary terms."
"Some classes have done research on producers and consumers, and who uses the most renewable and non-renewable products," added Becky Raichle, a third-grade teacher and another event planner. "There's been a lot of energy education this week."
One of the classes made solar cookers from Pringles cans. Esperanza Mendoza and Brianna Little, both sixth-graders, stood by a display table and explained how to cut slits in the cans and create metallic flaps that reflect the heat of the sun. By inserting a wooden skewer through either end of the can, and placing a plastic bag over the exposed interior of the can, the students were able to cook hot dogs and s' mores, they said.
Another class created "energy houses" -- insulated cardboard structures the students built; then tested during the energy fair by placing ice cubes inside and seeing which one stayed frozen the longest. James Macklin, a sixth-grader, stood ready to explain the process to any visitors.
"It was fun. We had fun with it," he said.
"We talked about insulation factors," explained Richard Greybull, the sixth grade science teacher. "The idea is to see which one is going to stay the coolest the longest. They did a good job. They had to design it themselves and work together as a team to figure out what went in it and what would be the best insulating factor."
The students had limits about how much insulation they could use, he explained. The energy houses also had to have a specific size of see-through window and a door that opened. Throughout the day, Greybull and the students took temperature readings inside and outside the houses so they could further evaluate the test results.
The project displays were set up in the middle of the school field, while the games and activities continued along the edges. On one side of the field, Jim Fenn, the physical education teacher, taught the students about wind energy and several other types of energy through the parachute activities.
On the other side, Justin Davis answered the students' questions about an Alabama Power bucket truck and helped them try on the insulated gloves power company workers often wear.
"We had one question that surprised me," he said. "The student wanted to know how we kept from being electrocuted up there when the truck was sitting on the ground and we were handling all the equipment. That was pretty impressive."
"I'm just letting the students see how heavy some of this stuff is and how hard it is to deal with," Davis said. "I'm telling them there's a safe way to do this. Just like anything else -- our equipment needs to be taken care of. It protects us every day."
After completing each activity station, students got a card punched to earn "energy bucks," explained Jones. When the students cashed in all the punch cards, they earned funds for the science labs provided by the Parent Teacher Association.
"The kids are really enjoying it," she said. "It's great fun."