This month, Ms. Futterman won her second grant from Florida Power & Light Company to implement student projects exploring renewable energy. The solar waterfall was the result of her first grant, and took about a year to complete. For her next project, she dreamed even bigger.
This year’s FPL grant will help Ms. Futterman and the school’s “Green Team” apply a wind turbine they built to provide power to a radio tower, which will broadcast student announcements of school events and programs to parents’ car radios as they pick up or drop off their children.
The Green Team started out as an afterschool environmental police force who audited classrooms for wasted energy. Thanks to the grants, the group has evolved into a green engineering club, taking on projects like building the solar powered waterfall, wind turbine, and now radio transmission tower.
In preparation for the project, Ms. Futterman had her students read “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” the story of a boy in Malawi who used tree limbs, a bike tire, and old junk parts to build a wind turbine that powered lights in his family’s house.
The Green Team’s project is just as hands-on. In constructing the wind turbine, the students prepped, primed, and riveted parts and hand-coiled copper wire. They're nearly ready to run a wire underground to the radio tower and up the PVC pipes that form the legs of the tower, and mount the antenna. Next up: the students will work on the radio station and announcements.
“There’s only so much a teacher can do in the classroom, and we're grateful to have the grants for an invaluable opportunity to actually put green energy into motion,” said Ms. Futterman. “I see our students truly inspired and energized by their mission. They work after school every Monday until about five o'clock - they even worked through their winter vacation!”
The radio tower project was made possible with a $1,600 grant from FPL to spur innovative and critical science, technology, engineering, and math education in the classroom. While so-called “STEM” education is seen as the key to job growth and global competitiveness, public funds to support it are scarce.
“There’s no doubt that STEM classes are one of the most important components in today’s education,” said Maureen Wilt of FPL. “That’s why FPL began our teacher grant program – to provide funds for creative, exciting classroom projects that spark curiosity and give our children exposure to real-world applications of the science behind everyday energy use. This is the third year of FPL’s grant program and so far, we've been able to support 84 amazing classroom projects across Florida. We can't wait to see what our state’s teachers come up with next year.”
You can keep track of the Green Team’s progress on Facebook with videos, pictures, and status updates from “Ms. Futterman’s Science Page.” Or, learn more about FPL’s education initiatives at http://www.fpl.com/
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