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Power Board's contest focuses on reducing energy usage

December 6th, 2013 9:17 pm by Jennifer Sprouse

Power Board's contest focuses on reducing energy usage

When it comes to power and energy conservation, fourth-graders at Lake Ridge Elementary School have a few suggestions.

Participating in the Johnson City Power Board’s “Imagination Power” calendar art contest, those students, as well as other fourth- and fifth-graders in the Power Board’s service territory, drew artwork to show ways to save power, as well as power alternatives to decrease overall usage.

Drawings were submitted from each of the participating schools to the Power Board, and a committee was established to select 12 of them to appear in the annual contest calendar. At the contest’s end, the school with the most student drawings in the calendar would then win a grand prize of 25 custom edition KitBook textbooks, which are an interactive tool designed to teach fourth- and fifth-graders about electrical circuits.

Lake Ridge was this year’s grand prize-winning school, with seven drawings selected for the contest. On Friday, Power Board CEO Jeff Dykes visited the school for the presentation of the calendars as well as the KitBooks.

Fourth-grader Abbie Underwood, 10, in Julia Henry’s class, enthusiastically pointed out her multi-step drawing of a power-saving greenhouse.

“Our task was to create a way to conserve energy in a picture and label it,” Underwood said. “I started mostly just thinking about a greenhouse and the fact that it would be more power conserving to not use gas and light to go to the grocery store.”

In the picture, Underwood drew a cow, a pig, solar panels, two rain collectors, four rain buckets, an apple tree, green beans and a berry bush, while also illustrating how to use solar energy and rainfall to power and provide for a greenhouse.

On the drawing she wrote “why should we waist (sic) gas to go to the store, when we can really just grow our own food.”

Underwood said she was excited to have her picture selected for the contest and said she enjoyed the project.

“You could let your imagination go wild,” she said. 

Fellow fourth-grader Claire Rountree, 10, in Nicole Webb’s class, drew her conservation picture about an alternative way of styling hair without using electricity.

“I curl my hair a lot. I use a lot of energy,” Rountree said. 

In her picture, she illustrates in four sequences that if you braid your hair wet and sleep on it overnight, it produces curls the next morning.

From learning in her science class and through the project how much power she was using for just that task, Rountree said she’s tried out the hairstyling trick and has started doing that now instead of using a curling iron.

She said her class was shown a PowerPoint presentation for the project, which did help to get the creativity flowing, but said she “learned a lot of energy is wasted when things are plugged in.”

Rountree also added that being selected for the calendar was “funny because I didn’t really expect it and so I’m really excited.”

Lake Ridge’s fourth-grade team partnered with the school’s art instructor, Ann Ferenbach, to complete pictures for the contest.

“This is a collaborative program that we do with the Power Board every year,” Ferenbach said. “It focuses on math and science. We gathered our children together and really talked about the process. They translated their thoughts through an illustration. It really felt like a group effort. It was very cohesive and collaborative.”

Teachers Nicole Webb and Anthony Padelski said they were proud of the pictures their kids produced for the contest.

“We try to get our kids to apply this to real-life situations. How can they save energy? How can they use less energy?” Webb said. “The kids came up with some really great ideas that I couldn’t even think of.”

Padelski added, “We’re a testing system, a testing society, so it was surprising and it was great to see (the students) visualize the practicality of what we’re teaching them in the classroom.”

Dykes, who met and took pictures with the contest winners, said the calendar program was started as a way to get more involved with the schools in the area, as well as to educate the younger generation on alternative energies and opportunities in the industry.

“You never know where the next great idea’s going to come from,” he said. “We really want to do everything we can to visit the schools, to help with the science teachers and bring that technology down to the level where fourth- and fifth-graders can really understand what they see when they’re out in the world.”

Lake Ridge Principal John Phillips said he was excited for his teachers and students involved in the Power Board’s contest, as well as the addition of the KitBooks to the school’s science curriculum.

“I’ve looked at the calendars in the past and we’ve had a winner here and there. To have this many students participate and have this many winners, it’s just phenomenal,” Phillips said. “There’s so much (talk) today about STEMs –– science, technology, engineering and math –– and this is one of those projects that pulls almost all of that together for us with the students. I’m just real proud of all of them.”

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