As it feels Alberta is just on the cusp of renewable energy being widely adopted, the key now is to look to best practices across the province.
This entry we’ll focus on schools making a difference. Let’s start in the southern part of the province and work up.
We’ll start with the latest success story Coaldale’s St. Joseph School. Just before the winter break, Science teacaher Zac Coupland had the opportunity to get a small scale Skystream wind turbine on his school property. Enmax was willing to work with the school to have it as a demonstration site so students could learn about renewable energy first hand. He invited the International Wind Energy Academy to speak at a council meeting to separate myths from fact when it comes to bird and bat fatalaties, noise and health concerns. The public got to express their thoughts on the addition. Some were negative and some were positive and in the end council approved the motion.
This bodes well for a community with just over 6,000 people as the Birds of Prey Centre has also expressed interest in a Demonstration Site for Renewable Energy. With more than 15,000 visitors between May and September including several school tours, this again opens the doors to environmental education.
The Cayley School has solar photovoltaic panels and a small wind turbine and the school’s Principal said in an article in the Nanton News that he hopes it will raise awareness of environmental issues among the kids of the school and residents in the village.
Olympic Heights School in Calgary is another great addition to this list of best practices. This Elementary School was one of the first in Alberta to have a Skystream 3.7 wind turbine in the middle of their playground. The children are able to monitor the wind turbine’s speed and how much power it produces on a daily basis through accessing a website on their smart board. The school also has a weather station that provides the opportunity to learn about wind chill, barometric pressure, humidity, dewpoint and more. Across the Calgary School board their are other schools who have solar photovoltaic installed and students check to see how they are doing versus other schools and how much greenhouse gas emissions they are offsetting.
Moving Northwest up the province, Cochrane High School is another best practice with environmental education. It was back in 2000 that they developed a Cochrane Sustainable Development Project with volunteer members from Grades 9-12 that meet weekly to discuss a project they will accomplish annually.
They have implemented solar photovoltaic panels, solar thermal, a community garden, a small wind turbine, motion sensor lights, recycling, composting and more!
Queen Elizabeth High School is another excellent example that has been leading the way. This was one of the first schools in Edmonton to have solar photovoltaic panels on their roof. They also have a social justice club that fundraised and created solar lanterns that have been shipped to Haiti to provide light as the sun goes down around 6 p.m.
Last but not least the International Wind Energy Academy has hosted a Wind Energy Youth Camp last August, has hosted a University of Lethbridge Science Camp and has educated students on where electricity comes from, how to build a small wind turbine and more. We have one of Canada’s first trained Kid Wind Senators Kendra Gawletz. We have a curriculum from Kid Wind called Wind Wise which focuses on wind energy for Grades 6-12 and we are looking at hosting a Kid Wind Challenge with schools from across southern Alberta making their own turbine and having a friendly competition. If you would like us to visit your school to provide renewable energy education, please do not hesitate to contact us by calling 403-320-3202 ext. 5489.