The Dolphins “Power It Up”… An Environmental Education Lesson with the Bar-T Team

Posted by on December 14, 2016


Last Friday we had the pleasure of working with the Wayside Dolphins for the third year in a row! They are held up in a holding school for the 2016-2017 school year, but that hasn’t stifled the 5th grade’s enthusiasm to learn or create.

As we began to talk about energy and electricity, the students had a lot of prior knowledge to contribute to the conversation. They had already talked about energy sources as part of their first quarter roller coaster project so they were quick to share everything they had learned about renewable and non-renewable energy! You could tell right away their wheels were turning, when a few students threw out different ideas to use hamster wheels and batteries to convert energy and store power.  

The groups were eager to design and build their wind turbines. No two wind turbines were alike. Some chose balsa wood over card board, others had long blades instead of short blades. After testing, going through the data, and collaborating as small groups and as a class, we had one group come up with the most efficient turbine of the day. With four small blades made of cardboard at a 15 degree angle they recorded 68.4 milliwatts on our Labquest 2. Students couldn’t contain their excitement as they read aloud the milliwatt outputs that were coming across their chrome books! 68.4 milliwatts is a fantastic output for a model turbine and a floor fan.

As we wrapped up the lesson, students shared why it’s important we talk about energy, electricity, efficiency, and conservation. While it was only two hours of their day, every student had the opportunity to be a citizen scientist and engineer. They expressed the importance of these conversations and activities is the knowledge and experience it gives them moving forward. They are going to be the ones that discover and design the next big thing! They are going to take us away from non-renewable energy because they know we are going to run out of fossil fuels and because it is fossil fuels that pollute our earth. It is time to consider other viable options.  

As educators, it is fantastic when we get to leave a school feeling inspired.  We can’t thank the 5th Grade Wayside Dolphins enough for their excitement, energy, and forward-thinking!

What a wonderful day in the classroom!

–Shannon Caraviello
Director, Bar-T Environmental Education

For more information about Power it Up and other Environmental Education initiatives,
email Shannon at