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Ohio Energy Project kicks off revamped learning tour across WCSD elementaries

Ohio Energy Project kicks off revamped learning tour across WCSD elementaries

The challenge was unlike any the fourth-graders at Alcott Elementary had encountered in a science unit: Move an object using wind energy.

As part of a lesson created by the Ohio Energy Project (OEP) on Wednesday, students designed paper blades of all shapes and lengths for a wind turbine. A long piece of string with a cup at the bottom hung from the opposite end of the device. Students tested their turbines in front of a fan, using the wind to propel the blades into action — and raising the cup in the air. They tested the strength of their designs by adding pennies into the cup.

For years, OEP hosted science-based, standards-aligned lessons that spark curiosity about energy with the district’s fifth-graders. This year, district educators and OEP coordinators revamped the lessons to better align with the national Next Generation Science Standards and when students learn about energy, which is in the fourth grade.

“The bigger focus is on the engineering and design principles,” said Heather Griffith, a district math and science curriculum specialist for elementary schools. “The content is there — physical science. But it’s about building, solving a problem and going back and rebuilding… They’ve got to figure out how to move an object using wind. They are designing those blades, figuring out the angle of the blade, how big it has to be, which way it has to be turned or if they have to add more blades.”

Griffith and Secondary Science Curriculum Specialist Lyndsey Manzo with Abbey Thomas, an OEP education coordinator to bring the lesson stations to fourth-grade classrooms with help from high school students across the district. Westerville Central High School students in Advanced Placement Environmental Science worked with Alcott students on Wednesday. Science students at Westerville North and Westerville South high schools will be working with elementary students in coming months.

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

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

  • Alcott Elementary
  • Westerville Central High School
  • Westerville City Schools

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