April 19th 2013April/May Calendar Announcements for The Heartworks and Renaissance Schools Read More
Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Grade Class Studies Energy
Fifth, sixth, and seventh graders from The Renaissance School were the first school group to tour the newest building at NRG Systems in Hinesburg this fall. The students visited NRG Systems in connection with their science studies of matter and energy. Science teacher, Eve Dubois, explained, “We began our science studies this fall with electricity and magnetism, and the older children conducted research about alternative methods of generating electricity, so a trip to NRG Systems was a natural connection to our studies.”
This artwork, one of many pieces embedded into the buiding's floor, depicts the type of graph that NRG Systems produces to inform its clients about the potential wind energy that can be captured in a given location.
NRG Systems is a world leader in the science of wind measurement technology, and their facility in Hinesburg was constructed with alternative energy sources in mind. According to Dubois, “The correlation with the children’s research reports was amazing! The children had researched wind power, solar power, and geothermal power, among others, and it was fascinating to find out that NRG Systems employs all three of these energy sources in providing heating, cooling, and electricity for their operations. The research that the children did in creating their reports and deciding whether or not to recommend a particular method of generating electricity directly parallels the work that NRG Systems scientists did in making decisions about energy sources for their building. These real-world connections are so powerful in motivating and inspiring children’s love of learning, and in this case, especially science.”
A student experiments with an anemometer, one of the tools NRG Systems uses to measure wind.
A hallmark of The Renaissance School is differentiated instruction, in which students are encouraged and supported in their learning through a variety of teaching methods. Following their trip to NRG Systems, students were asked to prepare projects to share what they learned. Each student approached the project in a unique way, from creating a movement piece to writing an original limerick to making a model to show how solar panels follow the sun or how the floor is heated and cooled from below with water from the on-site pond, a source of geothermal energy, supplemented by a wood-pellet furnace. Dubois explained, “Open ended projects like these offer each child a chance to shine in a way that is unique to him or her. The opportunity to choose a particularly interesting part of the trip, and then to present what they learned using their own unique talents and skills, inspired many of the children to do further research, which is exciting to me as a teacher because it demonstrates their strong commitment to learning. It is so rewarding to teach when children are excited about learning, and one of the keys, especially for older children, is to help them see that what they are doing in the classroom is valuable in the world outside the classroom.”
Tour guide Suzanne explains tools that NRG Systems uses to measure the wind.
Real world connections are an integral part of Dubois’s teaching at The Renaissance School, which is located at Shelburne Farms. The farm’s mission of environmental education and stewardship is another real world connection that enriches the children’s learning. After their field trip to NRG Systems, students also toured Shelburne Farms’ heating facility in the Farm Barn and discovered that building employs a wood pellet furnace to heat water that flows through pipes under the floor, just like NRG Systems. At least one student has already decided to further investigate the use of wood pellets through his science fair project. Later this winter, these students will continue their studies of matter and energy by learning about force and motion through a study of flight and participation in the Starbase Vermont program at the Vermont Air National Guard base in South Burlington.
5th, 6th and 7th graders toured NRG Systems in Hinesburg with guide, Suzanne. The company is proud of the environmentally-conscious and people-friendly decisions that were made in the construction of their facility.
One student was particularly inspired by the array of moving solar panels in front of NRG Systems and created this model to demonstrate how the solar panels can follow the movement of the sun across the sky.
6th and 7th grade students explore with Peter Bullock of Shelburne Farms to learn more about how their building is heated with water pipes embedded in the floor, just like NRG Systems.
6th and 7th graders find out how pellets are delivered to the Farm Barn.
Wally Allen introduces 6th and 7th graders to the three types of pellets that are burned in the furnace and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Wally Allen explains the workings of the wood pellet furnace in the Farm Barn. As they study matter and energy on the Farm, the children are learning how heat is measured and are exploring the sources and transfers of energy.
6th and 7th graders go behind the scenes to learn about the mechanisms that move the pellets into the furnace.