On Friday, February 23 2018, ten students and two teachers from Seton La Salle High School were invited to speak with the faculty and staff at the St. Francis University Institute for Energy Research. This visit was planned in conjunction with a fellowship project that the students are hard at work on, writing a children’s book on wind energy (The Boy, The Bird, and the Wind Turbine – coming in May!)
Upon arrival, the students were met by Project Coordinator Michael Sells, and given a tour of the new state of the art science building on campus. This tour included a stop at a tropical fish tank large enough to scuba dive in, as well a lab containing 3D printers, and a look into some of the student lounges which are designed to facilitate the sharing of ideas among peers in the various departments.
After getting to see some of the sights inside, the students met up with the Institute Director, Allison Rohrs, who took them outside the see the tiny house. The house is a small energy efficient structure used to educate people across the whole state about the great ways that sustainable and renewable energy can make a very real impact on their lives.
After the tiny house, the students were brought inside for an incredible lunch and a presentation on wind energy in Pennsylvania. A presentation that included how wind turbines work, how a company maintains them, and how to determine where to place them to begin with.
This information proved very valuable to the students, who had been given a very real connection to the material they were writing about. Tyler Hill, after trying on the harness used to climb some of the smaller (150 foot) turbines said, “My favorite place was the university because I learned more about how turbines work, how gears move and how the windmill turns to face the direction of the wind.” Another classmate Carrie Martson stated, “I wish we had more time there.” While Joshua Mellor shared, “Saint Francis was the place for me because I could listen to the presentation and now I know a little more about how windmills work.”
Not only students had glowing things to say. Developmental English teacher Emily Rosati added “I really enjoyed the entire day! I thought from start to finish my students learned so much and can now feel more anchored to the content that we are writing about. I loved Saint Francis and felt it was the perfect combination of information, entertainment, engagement, and macaroni and cheese! The kids loved that stop and I was pleasantly surprised with how much they knew!!”
She went on to describe the engagement and animation of several students who aren’t easily engaged. The visit generated new layers of critical thought as they tried to integrate what they learned that conflicted with some of the details of their book. It brought a new energy to a project that takes the whole school year to complete.
Again, a special thanks to Allison Rohrs and Michael Sell, as well as the rest of the staff and faculty of St. Francis University. It was truly a special day.