Ohio Energy Project kicks off learning tour across WCSD elementaries

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For the fifth-graders at Robert Frost Elementary, Wednesday’s lessons on energy were a familiar one.

They identified and examined various types of energy in three different learning stations: a stationary bike that demonstrates how energy can be used to light different bulbs; an exploration into the way energy transforms and transfers using a light wand, toys and other devices; and a study into the world of electronic circuits with Snap Circuits kits.

“I remember learning about this in fourth grade,” fifth-grader John Tubaugh said. “It’s really fun.”

That was the intention behind the lesson created by the Ohio Energy Project, a nonprofit organization that serves students, teachers, and communities in all things energy education.  Education coordinators said they wanted to review fourth-grade standards in energy since fifth-grade students will take the science state assessment this spring.

“Energy transformations is one of the hardest concepts so we made it more tangible,” said Abbey Thomas, an education coordinator with the Ohio Energy Project (OEP). She and fellow OEP education coordinator Kelsey Beach led the learning stations at Robert Frost with support from science and engineering students at Westerville North High School.

“It’s an abstract concept that they can’t relate to but it impacts everything in their life so we were thinking about how we can make it tangible and how they can see it,” Beach said.

Secondary Science Curriculum Specialist Lyndsey Manzo and Elementary Math/Science Curriculum Specialist Heather Griffith worked with Thomas and Beach to bring the learning stations to fifth-grade classrooms with help from high school students. 

District leaders say the approach helps meet the needs of fifth-grade students while leveraging the skills and expertise of high school students in AP Physics, AP Environmental Science and upper-level engineering courses.

Tubaugh said he enjoyed revisiting the lessons from fourth-grade and learning some new things too.

“We learned about conductors, insulators and LEDs,” he said. “We got to learn why LEDs are so much better for the environment because they don’t use as much energy.”

He found the energy bike demonstration fascinating and got a better understanding of LED lights. So did fifth-grader Chloe Young, who said she has LED lighting in her fish tank and curtains.

“I thought that was cool,” she said. “I didn’t know they saved energy. I just thought they were a special kind of light.”  

The City of Westerville Electric Division provides financial support to bring the OEP’s educational programming to the district.