Twelve Cattaraugus-Little Valley Central School eigth grade science students, investing lots of their own time, and working mostly on a volunteer basis, managed to put their school and their two communities right in the center of an academic spotlight this month.
The students, encouraged by their instructor, Mr. Anthony Schabloski, won a nationwide energy education project, sponsored by National Fuel, the Buffalo Sabres and the National Energy Education Development Project. The goal of the contest was for students to devise effective ways to educate their community about all aspects of energy use. So well did this band of C-LVCS middle-schoolers fulfill the objective, they were selected as the only school to represent New York State at the Need Project's Youth Awards for Energy Achievement, to be held in Washington, D.C., this weekend.
The Energy Explorer team (as they named themselves) worked on the project for several months. Like the good scientists they were, they started by researching various types of energy, using every source they could think of, including government and university websites. They also interviewed people from the community, including some who had experienced the first electricity in the area As their energy list grew, it expanded from the traditional power providers, such as coal, petroleum, hydroelectricity, and natural gas to other, more modern sources, like solar, wind, geothermal, hydrogen cell, and nuclear.
Research completed, the "Explorers" set about building models and designing posters to describe and illustrate each energy source identified. They included such information as where the energy comes from, its availability, its use in other countries, its advantages and disadvantages, and its future potential.
Culminating the project, the "Explorers" staged an Energy Expo, held in the elementary school, and directed most specifically at the sixth graders. This made up the teaching component of the assignment, as it created an opportunity for the team to display their posters and models and use them to instruct younger students about the various types of energy.
But the project didn't end there. The enterprising kids also put together their own "Wiki-pedia." In it, they set forth the facts they had gleaned about rural electrification and other early sources of energy in the local area.
Last, but hardly least, the "Explorers" filmed an iMovie that applied what they'd learned about such energy interactions as radiation, conduction, convection and condensation. It included footage designed to show the public how to conduct a home energy audit, and it outlined simple steps any homeowner could take to save energy. Mr. Schabloski said that the movie will be available for home viewing on the school website: www.cattlv.wnyric.org.
As frosting on the cake, their first place finish won them an all-expense-paid trip to the nation's capitol, as well as several interesting tours, including the Smithsonian Museum and a dinner-cruise on the Potomac River.
Said Schabloski, "It's like I keep telling the kids. Hard work pays off."