Schaer Science: Sustainable Energy

By Jessica Schaer

Published 08/28 2014 09:40PM

Updated 08/29 2014 03:00PM

PITTSBURG, KS.--- "Today's students are tomorrow's engineers," said Alan Kirby, Pitsco sales representative.

With that in mind, the staff at Pitsco in Pittsburg are coming up with ways to teach students about sustainable energy.

"The students that are going through the programs today are going to be leading the country in a few years. And their knowledge of the sustainable energy concepts are very important," said Kirby. 

To understand those concepts, let's first figure out what sustainable energy means.

"Sustainable energy is reproducible or renewable energy that is generally harvested from sources that do not damage the Earth's infrastructure," said Kirby.

Pitsco Inside Sales Representative Alan Kirby says his team is using the ideas of solar and wind energy to teach future generations. 

"They learn certain concepts or content through the development, the building, the testing of the products. But, the engineering challenges at the end, leaving them open ended, lets the kids use what they've learned to apply it to a new problem, or a new challenge," he said.

Sustainable energy is proving to be important in today's world.

"As of October 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy said that 2% of the United States' power is generated by wind energy," he said.

Kirby says by 2020, the U.S. hopes to have 10% of power generated by wind energy. For Pitsco curriculum specialists, that's a big deal. So they've created turbines to teach children how power is harvested from wind.

"The pitch of the blade can be set automatically based on the amount of wind that's coming. So if there's a very light wind, they'll set it a very light pitch, so it's still able to turn and generate power," said Kirby. 

The energy created just by the blades rotating makes motion, light, or sound through a device. It doesn't stop at just wind energy though. Pitsco is also teaching students about the power of solar energy. 

"The panel gathers the energy from the sun, transfers it through the wires to the motor inside, and then turns the back axles," said Kirby. 

The sun can even be used to properly heat up food.

"This one is a parabolic mirror, with an aluminum tube that's been powder-coated black. This is made to heat up a hot dog," said Kirby. 

Lastly, the sun can even be used to quickly heat water through a solar oven.

"Water is inserted into the container. And as it's slowly pushed through, there's an aluminum tube that weaves through the black material inside. The black is to collect the radiant energy from the sun," he said. 

For more information on Pitsco's educational materials, such as their sustainable energy products, click here.

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