Take a beautiful Albuquerque weekend day, the inviting University of New Mexico campus, over 700 middle school NM MESA (Math, Engineering, Science Achievement) students and their teachers from around the state, the Energy On the Move trailer, and some intrepid and eager Energy STARS students from Bosque School and Del Norte High School, and the outcome results in fun, activity, and learning.
One of the key components of the annual NM MESA Day competitions is a Discovery Fair, and this year, the Energy On the Move energy education trailer sponsored by Robert and Barbara Lazar, two of our long time NM NEED teachers, will play a role. The Lazars brought some of their newest Energy STARS (Students Teaching About Resource Saving) together with some of their veteran Energy STARS who agreed to serve as mentors, and created an educational setting for all those in attendance.
After navigating onto the campus between large sculptures and buildings, the trailer was opened, and the displays were set up. The Energy STAR students reviewed how to set up the wind turbine, checked the inverter, and set up displays with different kinds of light bulbs plugged into Kill-o-Watt meters. It is always exciting to roll out the energy bike and experiment with this popular display of energy transfer concepts. “If I pedal faster, will the balls shoot out of the leaf blower apparatus at a different angle?” Another “Wow!” moment is when the model hydrogen fuel cell car just keeps going and going across the pavement, impressing the groups of students on the way to the Discovery Fair and events.
One of the delightful surprises during our day on the UNM campus was the number of families and community members who also came by to learn about energy. Students distributed informational flyers, puzzles, and games to all sorts of visitors: children, engineering students, retired walkers, and curious undergrads! Information about the upcoming NEED Teacher Workshop was also given to teachers who came by. There was a palpable excitement as the Energy STARS students shared what they have learned, and how to apply this knowledge to our daily lives and behaviors.
The collaboration between middle school students and high school students, from schools in different parts of town, was another added bonus, and the students were excited to continue the work both together and at their own respective schools. At the end of the day, hundreds of students learned more, and a few energy kids were revitalized about the role they can play in creating a viable energy future.
By Barbara and Robert Lazar