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Thursday , 23 September 2021

New Myrnam School immersed in year-long renewable energy science project

Images supplied by New Myrnam School: Left, grade ten students work on their initial design for their biofuel generator, while Grade 11 student Trey Hardcastle, right, uses his fabrication skills to build mounts for Team Solar’s solar panels.

There is a lot of focus on renewable energy and New Myrnam School is taking the initiative.

Since the beginning of the schoolyear Grades 4-12 students at New Myrnam have been designing renewable energy systems for a new, outdoor eco-classroom.

They hope to be done the eco-classroom is the next couple weeks which will give students another workspace outside.

Students are divided into three teams to try and provide power to the classroom: Team Solar, Team Wind, and Team Biofuel.

Each team applies the different concepts they’re learning in their science and math classes and using them to create the solar arrays, wind turbines, and biofuel machines.

“Kids aren’t just purchasing a wind turbine and setting it up, ‘oh cool.’ They’re actually designing it from scratch,” said Gamblin.

“They’re using laser cutters to cut out metal pieces and design them on 3D software. They’re using 3D printers to print out different types of wind turbines to see which ones are most efficient than others. A lot of trial and error and applying the scientific process.”

Once they’re finished, the students will make a recommendation to the Village of Myrnam and St. Paul Education Regional Division No. 1 about what source of renewable energy is best for the community.

“Basically, it’s like an experiment and they’re going to make a recommendation to the village about what they should adopt for renewable energy in our community.” said Principal Keith Gamblin.

Students and staff work with a high degree of collaboration to create their various renewable energy systems.

New Myrnam have earned a grant from A+ for Energy grant for two years running, which allows them to take on such ambitious project.

Last year, the Junior High students worked on a sustainable greenhouse and garden where their goal was to make a zero-energy building.

“They really enjoyed it and we found they were really remembering the concepts they were learning in science class. When it came time for their science exams they’d have a term like heat conduction, and they’d say ‘Oh yeah, that’s why we put water barrels in the greenhouse.’ They learned the concepts because they experienced it, they weren’t just learning it in a textbook,” said Gamblin.

Gamblin says that a hands-on project like this allows some of the less academic students to shine.

A senior high student who is interested in welding is welding mounts for the solar panels to go on their tracking device. Another they discovered was passionate about 3D printing and even taught of the staff how to do it.

“Our staff didn’t even know that and here’s a boy in Grade 6 showing us how to do that.”

Grade 8 student Wyatt Jacula and Grade 7 student Nelly Boese are both on Team Wind and are enjoying the process.

“I like that hands-on learning in an environment where you have the things that you can test to see which ones will work better. It’s a lot better than, ‘Theoretically, this one should work better.’ We actually find out with our wind speeds and weather types,” said Jacula.

“So far we’ve been figuring out which will be the most effective design [for the turbine]. We have a traditional with a front-facing so that it will spin and a sabionics design, it will always spin.”

Boese says her grade has been working on a tower for the wind turbine.

“So far we thought that wood would be great. But then we thought maybe with weather it wouldn’t be good, so we might try metal.

“It’s really fun,” she said.

Two grade seven students test their miniature turbine tower. Students will use the results of their tests on their mini towers to help them build a larger turbine tower.

While Gamblin says a large common project has its challenges, watching the collobartion between students and staff has made for a unique school year.

“It’s really transformed some of the learning at our school. It’s got kids excited about math and science and so we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to do it again next year.”

New Myrnam School is hosting their Spring Showcase on April 25th where they show off their projects to the community.

New Myrnam School has 125 students from K-12.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.