On May 15, 2018, Miscoe Hill Middle School in Mendon hosted a Clean Energy Activity Day for its seventh grade class.
The day began with 196 seventh grade students seated in the auditorium where Senator Michael Moore and MassCEC’s CEO, Stephen Pike, spoke about the growing future of the clean energy industry. Afterwards, Stephen Pike joined a panel made up representatives in the renewable energy industry including Dana Goodman from Boston Solar and Maggie Downey from Cape Light Compact. Students then took turns asking the panel questions about careers in the renewable energy industry. One student asked (which received a few laughs), “How stressful is your job?” Stephen Pike answered by comparing his job to a favorite class in school. He told the students that every job will come with stress, but if you enjoy the work you do, similarly to work in a favorite class, the stress is manageable and work feels much more rewarding. After the panel, students were divided into two groups; half working with solar energy and the other half working with wind energy.
The solar students went outside and participated in a solar panel activity kit. The students divided into smaller groups and worked together to build water pumps completely run on solar power. Then, they had to collaborate and develop an idea for how to move water from one bin across the field to the field to another bin, only using the equipment they had outside. After a quick huddle, they decided that they would use all of the solar powered water pumps everyone had built and line them up in a row. That way, each pump would move the water down the line successively until the opposite bin was filled! Another student group added that they should put these pumps on the tables, but at a slight angle so that gravity could assist moving the water at a faster rate. Alternatively, the wind students went into the gym, split up into smaller groups, and began building mini wind turbines. I found it very interesting to see how the individual students used their strengths to complete the project together. In one particular group, I noticed a girl assigning the other students various jobs to complete, while a boy in the same group was a very analytical builder and was able to correct anyone who had accidentally grabbed the wrong size piece without even having to test it. After working together to assemble the turbine, they had a choice of attaching an LED bulb which would illuminate while the turbine was spinning, or attaching a Digital Multimeter which displayed exactly how much power their wind turbine was producing. To test their machines, each group brought their turbines over to fans placed around the gym. Sometimes turbine blades would just fly off or the LED bulb would not light up. However, after some trial and error, every group was able to build a functional wind turbine.
At the end of the day, the students took a quiz on everything that was taught throughout the day. They then went back to the auditorium to discuss what they had learned about clean energy and collaboration. Students who received perfect scores on their quizzes were entered into a raffle, and 3 lucky students won solar panel phone chargers. With the students learning so much through these hands-on activities, clean energy future of Massachusetts is definitely bright!