Energy Fair helps children understand connection to local producers
HENNEPIN — The world’s population is increasing exponentially, and the energy demands required to meet this growth must be environmentally friendly and as sustainable and renewable as possible.
To help their students understand the connection with local energy production, Putnam County Elementary School (PCES) held its first Energy Fair on Feb. 23. The event included more than 20 stations, and had displays and presentations by Marquis Energy, Dynegy and Ameren.
Students learned about solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, biomass, coal, propane, petroleum and nuclear energy, as well as the various energy safety concerns. They also enjoyed educational games, student energy projects, face painting, candy and several freebies.
“Marquis Energy, through their donations and participation in various events and programs, has become a staple of the community, and it’s important for children to understand their connection with homegrown energy,” Marquis Energy’s T.J. Askeland said.
Dynegy’s Jennifer Pembleton shared similar sentiments after explaining how they produce energy. She showed students bottles of the water used during their production methods. The river water coming into Dynegy is brown and murky, but after traveling through the plant, it’s returned to the river clean and clear.
“It’s important for us to share with children the strides we’re making with pollution control and the environment, and we can show them we’re actually making the river water cleaner with our methods,” she said.
Putnam County Rotary members assisted with the event.
“We’re just here to help, but the energy level of the kids is exciting, and it should be considered a renewable source,” Rotarian Scott Shore said, jokingly.
Student projects included models of energy efficient homes and a functional wind turbine capable of producing almost three volts.
“It really challenged us, and the hardest part was working to make it catch the wind easier,” fifth-grader Cameron Spradling said of the windmill he helped build with classmates.
With the success of the first Energy Fair, Putnam County Elementary School is likely to make this an annual event. It also nicely complements the annual Trash to Treasure event for which students create new items from recycled materials.
“It’s been great to see how excited and engaged the students are with wanting to learn about energy and how it’s produced here so close to home,” fifth-grade teacher Monica Frund said.
“I’m so proud of our fifth-grade students for preparing, organizing and hosting our first-ever Energy Fair at PCES,” Principal Courtney Balestri said.
“Mrs. Hall (the fifth-grade science teacher) did an outstanding job with our students by creating authentic, real-life projects that will only enhance their college and/or career paths as they continue their education. I’m especially thankful to area companies for sending representatives to lead demonstration booths and activities with all of our students in grades 3-5,” Balestri said.