Student projects - Harnessing wind; saving birds, trees

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Caleb Jones works to build a wind turbine out of an old school treadmill motor and fan blade donated by Clayton County Recycling.

By Pam Reinig

Register Editor

With winter just around the corner, five Central students are working feverishly to complete a couple of projects designed to lessen the impact of cold weather on birds and trees. Two others are looking into green roofs and wind turbines. All are students in Ann Gritzner’s Global Science class, which requires a hands-on project that addresses an environmental issue. Here’s a look at their projects.

Birdhouses

Brianna Tieden and Montanna Schmidt want to keep birds warm and safe during the winter months, and they’ve hit upon a truly novel way to do it: They’re recycling empty plastic coffee containers into birdhouses. As part of their project, they’ll give a presentation on birds, their behavior and habitats to Central elementary students. They also hope to collect enough materials to send a birdhouse home with each youngster who attends their presentation.

“Iowa winters can be pretty nasty and for a little bird, it can be hard to live through the cold and storms while also trying to avoid predators,” explained Brianna. “The birdhouses will give them a safe place to hide and keep warm.”

The biggest challenge facing the girls has been finding enough materials for their project. They’re accepting donations of large plastic coffee cans with lids. Contact the school if you have any to spare.

Tree Farm

During winter months, trees are generally dormant. But Max Wingert, Tom Whittle and Andy Seeland think they can change that. They’ve covered the bases of four trees with manure and compost. The bases have been wrapped in protective black plastic to help retain heat. Keeping the trees warm will protect their roots and possibly keep them growing during winter months.

“If it works, people could use it on a commercial level,” Tom said.

The trees, donated by Jamie and Wayne Wingert, are on the Wingert’s tree farm. The boys will continue monitoring the trees over the winter months.

Wind turbine

Caleb Jones, who last summer discovered a talent and interest in electrical projects, is building a working wind turbine from donated materials. The turbine will be used to harness and use the free energy wind provides, which appeals to Caleb’s conservative side.

“I just don’t see the point of burning fossil fuels, coal and other non-renewable resources when we don’t have to,” he said. “This project appeals to me because I just don’t like wasting things. I figure that wind has more uses than just cooling us down when we step outside. We can get free energy from the wind. Isn’t that amazing?”

Experimentation has been a large part of Caleb’s work.

“Everything I’m doing is with scrap parts and it’s all homemade,” he continued. “If I didn’t experiment, my project would come to a screeching halt (as soon as one idea didn’t work out).”

Caleb hopes his project will help him learn more about working with electricity and saving energy.

“Also, I want to learn more about using saved energy, how to save more energy and how much money I can actually save by using alternative energy,” Caleb said.

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series on Global Science projects at Central.

 
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