Students go solar |

Students go solar

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunDaniel Vandewiele, 12, Emily Levy, 11, Tilen Lane, 11, and Jackson Wood, 11, look over their solar-powered race car at North Tahoe Middle School Monday afternoon. The cars were built by students during science class for the Truckee Watershed Alliance youth symposium.

Seventh-grade students at North Tahoe Middle School recently built a solar-powered race car to demonstrate the potential of alternative fuels.The students in Lindee Eckerts class will race their cars against those built by students from Alder Creek Middle School at a student forum later this month that asks schoolchildren to study ways to preserve communities and the environment in the face of global climate change.The Sierra Watershed Education Partnership is hosting the symposium where students will present projects ranging from an energy-efficient light bulb exchange to a food drive that promotes awareness of world hunger and health. This is something to value students work and to give them the opportunity to take ownership of what theyre learning, said Christine McMarrow, the partnerships executive director. The second annual youth symposium, featuring students from North Tahoe Middle School, Alder Creek Middle School, Truckee High School and Forest Charter School, will be held on Friday, May 18, at the Old Sierra Mountain Middle School in Truckee. The students will exhibit science fair displays based on this years theme, healthy people, healthy community, healthy planet.These kids realize that its up to them to make a change for the future, said North Tahoe Middle Schools Eckert.In addition to showcasing student learning, the symposium will strive to connect the students to the world outside the classroom through community partnerships and career exploration. Representatives from the Tahoe Donner Public Utility District, the Sierra Green Building Association, Solar Wind Works and the local fire station will be among those who will discuss potential careers related to the student projects.The symposium is a great way to show their knowledge and to gain knowledge from others, Eckert said.Eckerts class is one of several classes at North Tahoe Middle School participating in the event. Each class created projects based on a discussed topic bearing relevance to the community, the environment or humanity. Eckerts class studied alternative fuels and built a race car for the symposium.[We were] focusing on climate change, she said. Its all creative.The students were each given a piece of balsa wood, a motor, wheels, an axle, a solar panel and the liberty to personally design innovative cars. The finished projects include a carrot-car, a car with wheels made from compact discs, a Hawaiian theme car, and an ice cream car, each powered by photovoltaic energy. At the symposium, Eckerts students will be aiming for speed, racing their cars against another class from Alder Creek Middle School. Katie Guthros seventh-grade class took a different approach to energy efficiency. Her students wrote letters to Wal-Mart requesting a donation of energy-efficient light bulbs. Wal-Mart responded, sending 700 fluorescent bulbs to her classroom, where students will host a school-wide light bulb exchange, switching incandescent lights for the energy-efficient ones.Another class at North Tahoe Middle is hosting a food drive for Making Adequate Nutrition Accessible, more commonly known as Project MANA. Through the drive, the students increased awareness about world hunger, nutrition and health, McMarrow said. The various projects span a diverse range of subjects, but in each case, the students creativity and innovation gave them a deeper understanding of major challenges in todays world, she said.

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