This past Tuesday, three members of ESW-Pitt went out to the Shady Side Academy Middle School to talk about solar and wind power with the sixth grade class at the request of their science teacher, Mr. Brunner. Alexander Dale, Bruk Berhanu, and Chapter President David Palm got to spend the day in the school’s community and hopefully spread some knowledge.
For each of the four classes, we did a ~30 min. presentation, looking at our overall electricity sources, the specifics of how wind and solar operate (at a 6th grade level), and some pros and cons for each individual source, and for renewables vs. conventional fuels. Mr. Brunner had a demonstration wind turbine and a basic solar car for demonstrations, and we had some maps of local wind and solar installations to show that you can use these energy sources in SW PA!
The presentations were well received, with a bundle of questions from each class, ranging from discussions about birds and exploding turbines to questions about capturing light from the moon at night or concentrating the sun, something that’s actually being done for high-efficiency panels.
In between classes, we got a smattering of different experiences. These included a tour of the building, which is built around an old mansion (the grand staircase is still very much in use), a cafeteria lunch at the teachers’ table (a new experience for all of us), and a mid-afternoon fire drill on a very nice day. We also got to see the large, south-facing hillsides next to the building – a possible solar project site if ever I’ve seen one – and go to the recycling committee meeting, where we got to mention Pitt’s participation in Recycle-mania and hear about how the school’s composting program is going (very well, tyvm).
It was a great experience for both sides, and something we’d love to repeat either there or at other schools.