Fifth grade students at Woodland Hills Elementary recently got to show off their scientific and creative skills with “EcoProject.” Meshelle Smith, fifth-grade science teacher, took a very hot topic- energy- and instructed her students to create projects that would highlight the thoughtful use of conservation. “For this project, the students had to use one of the inexhaustible energy sources – sun, wind or tide,” said Smith. The students had many options to choose from, and Smith was careful to not give them exact outlines. Her goal was for the students to get creative and to come up with as many different ideas as they could. Julianne Castillo designed an “Eco House,” which ran on solar panels, wind and solar energy. “My favorite part was getting to design it, and finding out how it would really work,” she said. Some of the other projects students created included model homes, urban planning design, model cars using alternative energy, and power point presentations. “Two boys even did nuclear power,” said Smith. “They became experts on it.” Smith was very proud of her students’ efforts with this project. “I have 100 kids, and every single one of them came prepared,” she said. The projects were presented at Woodland Hills Elementary Science Extravaganza, which took place Nov. 6. Earlier this year, Smith won a $10,000 grant from BP (British Petroleum), through the “A+ for Energy” Program, which recognizes teachers for their innovative approaches to teaching students about energy and energy conservation. “I’ve done the Eco Project for three years,” said Smith. “Because of the grant, I was able to expand it.” Some of the grant money was used to help the students with their projects, providing materials such as solar panels. Smith has also used the money for improving and updating her classroom, and for energy education products and materials. A field trip for the students to Sheldon State Park is planned for next spring. Smith attended the BP “A+ for Energy” program after winning her grant in May of this year. “I can’t tell you how grateful I am for BP,” said Smith. “They really honored teachers and our vision.” Smith is also pleased with the donation of recycling bins from Waste Management. “They donated the recycling bins for the entire school,” said Smith. “The kids were excited because they wanted to promote curbside recycling.” The Eco Project was a major source of creative inspiration for the students, and it showed in their enthusiasm for their projects. Cassy Samples had a lot of fun working on her project, a water fountain, along with a car that ran on heat and light energy. “It was awesome,” she said. “I liked it because you had lots of choices and could be creative.” Photo: Laura Walker and her partner, Anna Koenig, built a model home that used the newest in ‘green’ technology to conserve water and energy. They used an aquifer to collect water and collect minerals.  The home received electricity from solar panels.

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