Steamboat 7th- and 8th-graders study energy at CMC camp
July 4, 2010
Steamboat Springs — If and when the U.S. moves away from its reliance on fossil fuels and toward alternative energy sources, Steamboat Springs Middle School teacher Kerry Kerrigan said today's students will be the ones who develop those technologies.
"It's going to impact their lives and their children's lives because the nonrenewable resources are running out," she said. "They'll be the generation who will be the masterminds of experimenting with them to make them more viable and easier to tap into."
That's exactly what about 25 seventh- and eighth-graders from Steamboat Springs, Hayden and South Routt middle schools and Christian Heritage School learned last week. They participated in Energy with a Twist, a summer day camp held Monday through Thursday at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus.
CMC's Alpine Campus math and science department chairman Kevin Cooper, who coordinated the camp, said it provided hands-on activities to teach students about alternative energy but also included instruction in astronomy, geology and weather — hence the "with a twist."
Last Tuesday, half the students measured temperature, humidity, wind speed and barometric pressure as part of a weather lesson. The other half learned about alternative energy by building model homes that used wind and solar power and had greenhouses.
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Cooper said it's important to pique students' interest in science from a young age. He said if they're comfortable with science, they would continue to take science classes into college.
"There's a big demand right now for a lot of science-based careers — teaching, engineering and computer sciences," Cooper said.
Some students said they signed up for the camp because they wanted to learn more about alternative energy sources.
"It's greener and you can save the planet and all its resources," said Emma Johnson, a seventh-grader next year at Hayden Middle School.
Others said they just enjoy science.
"I think it's just really interesting in a lot of ways," said Daniel Rhoades, an eighth-grader next year at Steamboat Springs Middle School. "I've always just been interested in the ways things work and going and seeing how things work."
As part of the event, students camped Wednesday night at Stagecoach where they received an astronomy lesson from CMC professor Jimmy Westlake.
Energy with a Twist was paid for by a grant from the El Pomar Foundation of Colorado Springs. Cooper said students paid $30 to attend the camp. That fee covered all costs, including meals. He said some other colleges in Colorado received funding from the grant to host similar camps.
Only time will tell if any of the students who participated in the camp will take what they've learned and apply it toward the rest of their lives. But several students understood Kerrigan's point about the students' potential future roles with alternative energy sources.
"We're the next generation," said Ashlee Gingerich, a seventh-grader next year at Soroco Middle School. "So (it's important) we know how to do everything, so we don't mess up what the older people did."
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