Local sixth graders present energy projects

Dawson Moomaw, 12, of Mount Jackson, shows how a small set of solar panels can power an electric fan and two other devices on Tuesday during the Science 6 Night at North Fork Middle School in Quicksburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

QUICKSBURG – Sixth grade students at North Fork Middle School participated in a science symposium on Tuesday evening, launching the net-zero classroom project at the school.

The students presented their research into energy with demonstrations, displays and other activities for Shenandoah County community members and school staff.

John Woods, the sixth grade science teacher spearheading this project, said his students are really excited about their energy projects.

“These kids have worked really hard to try to put together activities, demonstrations and investigations,” he said, “There’s been a lot of energy in this school.”

Their research included how to become more energy efficient by replacing regular light bulbs with LED lights, replacing old insulation, replacing current windows with two-panel windows and removing air conditioning units.

Aidan Compton, 12, of Edinburg, shows how the pitch of different turbine blades affects their performance during the North Fork Middle School Science 6 Night held Tuesday in Quicksburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

They also presented recommendations on using wind turbines, passive geothermal heating and cooling systems and passive solar collectors, as well as using a pellet stove to heat the net-zero classroom behind the school.

Superintendent Jeremy Raley had posed an energy challenge to the students in the fall asking what it will take to have a net-zero science lab at the school.

The science fair allowed the students – called energy science interns – to present their findings and recommendations for the challenge and offered an energy efficiency plan to transform an unused modular unit classroom behind the school into a science lab.

The lab will be powered by wind and solar energy to create an off-grid system that uses clean, renewable energy sources.

Madlyn Lamma and Dana Bennett, both 11 and from Mount Jackson, showed visitors to the fair how wind energy is able to power wind turbines.

Zoey Frants, 12, of Forestville, demonstrates how an automotive battery can store energy from a set of solar panels during the sixth grade science fair held at North Fork Middle School in Quicksburg on Tuesday night. Rich Cooley/Daily

Dawson Moomaw, 12, from Mount Jackson, and 11-year-olds Ayvah Wolverton and Amber Horning, both from Basye, presented how solar panels are able to produce energy. Their display showed how a fan can power a light, and how a solar panel is able to power a fan, a light, and a buzzer.

“This little light here represents the sun,” Dawson said, “so you turn the light on and the sun hits the solar panel, the light makes energy go through the wires and it makes the light shine, the fan run and the buzzer buzz.”

Stella Long, 11, of New Market, showed how different colors provide different levels of insulation through the use of a light blue oven mitt and a black oven mitt. Wires were put in the mitts to record the temperatures, which relayed the information onto a graph on the computer, showing how the mitts held heat differently.

“I put my hand in this mitt to get it to start heating up and then I took it out and looked at how long it can hold heat. It’s an insulator so it’ll hold heat pretty long,” she said, adding that the black mitt provides better insulation.

Other displays included a magnetic motor station, a solar hot dog cooker, geothermal energy, energy flow, and a brain tester game that asked questions on different energy sources.

The net-zero classroom also held displays as students presented how solar energy stores energy in a battery, how a solar water heater operates, and how methane gas can produce energy.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com