A project to harness the wind at Clover Hill High School has gotten funding from a major corporation and is expected to get a green light from the Planning Commission.
The Cavalier Wind Initiative was recently awarded a grant of $7,500 from the Dominion Foundation, a charitable program of electric utility Dominion Resources, to install a wind turbine on a site between the school building and the football field.
The project, led by Shelley Huber, a teacher of earth science, advanced placement environmental sciences and oceanography, is scheduled to be ready in time for Earth Day on April 22.
The turbine will benefit the school in part by generating electricity that will be fed into Dominion’s power grid, with the school receiving a credit on its energy bill. But the main benefit, according to Huber, will be the windmill’s value as a teaching resource.
In fact, getting the project to where it is now has been a valuable learning experience.
“The kids have been involved right from the beginning,” Huber said. “They have been researching wind turbines and the pros and cons so we could prepare for any questions the public might have.”
Huber noted that her advanced-placement students’ summer project was to research alternative energy. Because her students knew about her interest in the wind turbine project – she initially applied for a Dominion Foundation grant last year – several of them picked wind energy for their summer projects.
The windmill will stand 55 feet tall and reach down about 30 feet underground. The total cost has yet to be calculated, but a fundraising effort has been launched. Construction is expected to start in December.
The Planning Commission was expected to clear the way this week by passing a resolution declaring that the project is in “substantial accord” with the county’s comprehensive plan. A county planning staff report noted that the aim is “to provide a ‘hands-on, minds-on’ opportunity where future stewards of the environment can evaluate innovative science, technology, engineering and math technologies, and to be a leader in promoting wind as a supplemental source of energy.”
Huber underscored the fact that the turbine is in keeping with the school system’s goal of emphasizing “project-based learning,” in which students gain knowledge by participating in goal-oriented group activities. “This is project-based learning, this is project management in real life,” she said.
Huber also pointed out that it won’t just be her advanced-placement science students who will have an opportunity to benefit from the project. “This is not just for upper-level classes,” she said. “Moving forward, all the science classes will be involved in some fashion.”
In addition, steps will be taken to tie the windmill in with non-science subjects such as literature and art, in keeping with the school system’s goal of increasing “cross-curricular” learning, she said.
“This will be something that we can all share,” Huber said.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding