DERBY – Two North Country Union Junior High School teachers brought the Sheffield First Wind Project to their classrooms. Technical education teacher Roger Chaput and science teacher Jessica Tetreault oversaw the two-month unit.
Chaput’s component entailed talking about the parts of a wind turbine. Tetreault’s taught students how much electricity turbines can produce and how a wind turbine generates electricity, and about parallel circuits and series circuits. Students also discussed the pros and cons of wind turbines.
Members of the Vermont Energy Program worked with the students for a week. Tetreault’s class constructed small-scale generators using blades they made in Chaput’s class. Students held competitions and, in the end, three of the generators created 10 volts of electricity.
The wind turbine unit set off a spark with students. Eighth-grade student Hannah Lancaster made her blades out of cardboard but other students used notebook covers and wood. Eighth-grader Chris Green used cardboard to make his blades and learned different shapes and which were better than others.
“It was pretty cool to see how much energy can be made from the wind,” said seventh grader Matthew Dutil. “I knew they were putting wind turbines up on Sheffield, but never knew they could harness that much energy.”
Marcus Cote, a seventh grader, was impressed with the size of the wind turbines.
Chaput became interested in wind after taking a class with the Vermont Energy Program. The installation of wind turbines is happening nearby and kids need to be informed. The interdisciplinary unit worked out well, Chaput said.
Chaput and Tetreault brought the students to the First Wind project in Sheffield, where they learned how much power the facility generates. They also learned that three Vermont power companies buy the power. Chaput is pleased the students saw the actual size of the wind turbines first hand.
Chaput and Tetreault kept their personal opinions out of the project. At the end of the unit, students wrote essays about how and if their views on wind power had changed.
Chaput and Tetreault hope to teach the wind power unit every other year. Tetreault teaches physical science one year and life science the next. This year Chaput is teaching technology, like Computer Aided Design and wind turbines. Next year he will teach power tools.
Both teachers also gave high praise to community members who helped during the project.