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Area schoolchildren visit Ohio University to learn about renewable energy

ATHENS, Ohio (Oct. 6, 2006) -- More than 1,000 Athens City schoolchildren may have met some true Mad Scientists on campus this week, but in the process they learned sound energy science.

Photos by Rick FaticaSponsored by the Ohio University Office of Resource Conservation, the third annual Energy Days, held at the Ping Center Wednesday and Thursday, was part of Athens Area Sustainability Awareness Week events. Energy Days was designed to build "a strong foundation for sustainable choices" by teaching third through sixth graders about how the energy decisions they make affect our natural resources.

"The stations that are here correlate to the Ohio state standards in science," said Sharon Parsons, director of curriculum and instruction for Athens City Schools. As Parsons talked, students moved from station to station inside Ping and outside on the patio, learning about the science of energy and renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and biofuels.

"We did these little boat things and they ran by steam," said Kelsey, a 12-year-old student in Ms. Yanity's sixth grade class at The Plains Elementary. "It was pretty cool."

Photos by Rick FaticaIn addition to the steam-powered boats, children ran fans off of mini solar panels, created electricity by riding a bicycle and learned about biodiesel, among other things. Many stations were staffed by adults in white lab coats -- educators with Mad Science from Columbus, Ohio, which specializes in hands-on science programs for schoolchildren.

But Ohio University faculty and staff participated in this outreach program as well. Ben Stuart, director of the Biofuels Research Lab, spent much of his day teachings kids about biodiesel. "The university is here not just to educate people who paid tuition, but to be a resource for the community," Stuart said between groups. "Education is powerful -- it's the only way we can make appropriate choices." Stuart hopes his service at Energy Days will have a long-term impact. "If the next generation of consumers starts to demand these alternative fuels at the pump, it's gonna happen."

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations Jack Jeffery, (740) 597-1793 or jefferyj@ohio.edu

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