4-H Youth Energy Program teaches teachers about energy

Tobie Blanchard, Tassin, Mark G.

News Release Distributed 09/01/11

A teacher gave instructions for a science experiment, watching as another teacher pushed a nail connected to a wire into an apple. The teacher wasn’t talking to her students. She was instructing other teachers.

About 125 educators from 11 parishes gathered on LSU’s campus on Aug. 27 for the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H Youth Energy Program.

Teachers, like Marion Nichols from Independence Middle Magnet School, received an energy curriculum and instruction on conducting experiments about renewable and nonrenewable energy and conservation.

“We came because we wanted to learn different ideas and different things we can use in our classroom in the areas of science and mathematics,” Nichols said. “I’m hoping to learn ideas and strategies I can take back to the classroom to make learning fun and innovative for the students.”

Educators attending the workshop received a $300 stipend.

The teachers spent the day rotating through experiments that dealt with solar power, wind power, fossil fuels and basic energy concepts. They cooked s’mores in solar pizza ovens they built. Another experiment involved heating a solar panel to drive a fan. They also built a wind turbine and experimented with rocks and sand to conduct small-scale core sampling.

LSU AgCenter offices in each parish will have kits containing the material teachers need to do the experiments, according to Caleb Persick, a graduate assistant in the LSU AgCenter 4-H Youth Development office who is organizing the Youth Energy Program. He said the teachers can check out these kits to use in their classrooms.

“We’re trying to give them something they can use that maybe they’ve never had before and put it all in one place for them,” Persick said.

Some teachers came away from the program with ideas on ways to expand the experiments and put them in context of current events.

“One of the experiences we’re going to relate it back to is the oil spill in the Gulf, so they can see why they do certain things and use certain materials and machines,” said Paula Wells, a teacher at Hammond Westside Montessori.

“Louisiana is concerned about nonrenewable resources, so as we look at other alternatives – solar and wind – we can show students how we can cut down our energy consumption, and how they can apply that in in their homes,” said Kathryn Moise from Bethany Christian School in Baker.

Moise and other teachers were enthusiastic about offering hands-on experiments to their students to help them better learn about energy.

“I think their reactions will be like mine,” Moise said. “I was very impressed. I think I am going to have a lot of wows.”

The program is taught by 4-H specialists and is funded by a grant from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.

“A 4-H premise is to learn by doing, and this program involves hands-on learning,” said Mark Tassin, director of Louisiana 4-H. “It’s a good fit for 4-H to deliver a program like this.”

The Youth Energy Program is offering additional training sessions across the state on Sept. 24 in New Orleans and Lafayette, on Oct. 29 in Monroe and Lake Charles, and on Nov. 19 in Alexandria and Shreveport. More about the program and registration information is available online at www.lsuagcenter.com/yep.

Tobie Blanchard

9/1/2011 7:18:40 PM
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