Tuesday, November 2, 2010

ETCA Receives ARC Grant!

Wow! I am so excited to share with you all that the ETCA has received a $75,000 grant from the Appalachian Region Commission! This grant will focus on furthering the manufacturing of solar panels in Columbia, KY, and purchasing a biodiesel plant that will produce fuel for Columbia's garbage trucks! I am in the process now of requesting community members' participation in the new Columbia Community Energy Plan Leadership Team. Already receiving email responses...gotta go! More to follow...

Monday, October 11, 2010

The New Semester Brings Forth Engineers!

As ACHS has changed to a "trimester" schedule, things have been very different as far as my class schedule goes! I only have RCHS students until December, but have ACHS students until February. The classes are about ten minutes shorter than the RCHS classes. Several students from the Beta ETCA class are taking courses at the Lake Cumberland Technology Center. I actually have 6 of my 9 engineering students riding over to Russell County every day to take CNC Machine Tool and CAD!! This is awesome because the students are telling their friends what an awesome learning experience this hands-on education is! I hope to continue to send more and more Adair students to LCTC! Talk about differentiation! It's wonderful!

Okay, some of the pictures I want to share with you on this post are of ACHS students working on the Ultimate Can Opener Project, where students reverse-engineered existing can openers and then designed their own based on the functions and features of their "competitors" products. The students learned how to identify primary and secondary functions as well as features of all kinds of different products.

The next big project involved sippy cups...of all things! Students evaluated the spill-proof valve mechanisms from several different cup manufacturers. They did this for two groups, 1) Infant to Toddler and 2) The Big Kid Cup. Throughout the "Reverse Engineering" FordPAS module, students pretend to be engineering interns at a company called Gadget King. They had to present their designs using sketches and Power Point presentations to the CEO of Gadget King (which happened to be me;) The following slideshow captures some of the best moments of this project!

Students have just finished Fall Break and are in the midst of learning about the importance of operator instructions and assembly instructions. During this project, students build anything they want using Legos! They have to take apart their product and another team must reconstruct their EXACT product using instructions created by the team. We are ready to trade this week! Teams will be graded on how well the other team can assemble the product with the instructions that were provided. Should be interesting! I have digital pictures to make sure all features, colors, and views are exactly the same...so no cheating!!

Hope you enjoy this post!

Mrs. Spoon

Saturday, July 17, 2010

National NEED Ceremony, Washington D.C.

Wow! I couldn't have taken a better group of students to Washington, D.C.!! We had a great time. I have added captions under most pictures to explain, and hopefully you feel like you have been to Washington after you view this slideshow!
We had a great time, but it was very rushed due to the tight scheduling of events. NEED did an excellent job organizing activities and overall event coordination! We had great activities, and the free touring passes made life easier (no long lines waiting for metro passes).
We left on Thursday night about 12:00 from Arby's in Russell Springs. I drove (with a couple of stops) until about 3:00 a.m. We stopped so I could power nap for about an hour and a half. Then we resumed the trip until breakfast at Cracker Barrel! Here is where the students got a lesson on gratuity. After the little lesson, everyone returned to the table and left at least one dollar. Then we were back in the van...D.C bound!
We arrived in D.C about 3:00 p.m. We immediately checked into our rooms and got ready for dinner at 5:00. After dinner and some introductory games (I had a teacher meeting about the new face of NEED lessons and met with the creative director of NEED), we headed to the Metro to tour the Memorials and Monuments because this was really the only free night we had and night-time touring of the monuments is best!

Breakfast was at 8:00 Saturday morning. We were pooped! However, we drug ourselves upstairs after breakfast and caught a shuttle from the hotel to the Metro subway. Once the touring began, adrenaline took over and everyone felt excited to be in our Nation's capitol! We knew that we wanted to see the Holocaust Museum, so this was our first stop after the Tourmobile ride.
We had a wonderful day and then went back to the hotel to get ready for the Parade of States Dinner and dancing afterwards! During this time we ate, then exchanged "trinkets" from our state with other states. Thank you to the Governor's office, especially Carla Arnold, Diane Andrews, and Sandy Simpson. Also Thank You to Whit Pennington for bringing some unexpected trinkets!! See slideshow below for some "active" pictures!

Sunday was more touring. We headed to the Museum of Natural History! We couldn't help but think of the movie, Night at the Museum! We ate lunch there and then toured the Air and Space Museum where we saw a 3-D IMAX movie on the Hubble Space Station. These museums were perfect for all ages. They were so educational and had a lot of hands on demonstrations. I wish we had all day to spend here! But, we had to head back to the hotel to get ready for a dinner cruise on the Potomac River...Hawaiian Style! The food was great and then there was more dancing! The kids found out Mrs. Spoon has a few moves! It was really fun having fun with my students, not just instructing.

Monday was the final day, and the reason for the trip actually...the Award!! I was going to have Connor go up and take our picture, but 2 minutes before we were called up my memory card was loaded! When you watch the slideshow, you'll see why:) The ceremony was held at the Department of the Interior, and there was the official presentation of colors and everything. We all felt really important!

After the ceremony, we had a Capitol tour scheduled! Some students were starving, including Connor! So they went on over to the Capitol and had lunch. A few of us went to meet with Senator Mitch McConnell's energy representative. We had questions concerning education, state legislation to give tax incentives at the state level, and of course we talked alot about the Academy and just our existence! They were very impressed. We all met up for the tour. It was rather short and sweet, but the architecture alone was amazing! We had an excellent tour guide. He used to be a professor of history at a college, so he had a lot of neat facts to share!

After the tour, we headed to Rep. Ed Whitfield's office to meet with his Energy Representative. It was here that JD Coomer proclaimed that he was interested in an internship in Whitfield's office. He got to meet a current intern and I am going to do everything I can to try to help him reach his dream! He has to stay focused on Energy, of course!!! Jason Davis loved the NEED Conference so much, he wants to go back next year and be part of the NEED staff! These two guys learned a lot about themselves on this trip! That's what it's all about!

We went back to the hotel, changed clothes in the restroom, and headed back for home. We stopped at Ruby Tuesday's for one last dinner together. I had to get another power nap about 3:00 a.m. I couldn't risk so many lives with my need for sleep! They graciously gave me the van and woke me up about 4:30 and we headed home. We got back about 8:00 a.m.! We were all glad to see "home"!

Our trip would not have been possible without the following sponsors/friends of the Academy: Thank you so much!! I have tried to remember all donors. If I left anyone out, it is not deliberate and I apologize! Thank you again!!

Dr. Phil Aaron
Adair County Board of Education
Adair County Substance Abuse Coalition
Mr. and Mrs. Larry R. Bryant
County Judge Executive Office, Ann Melton
Mike and Wanda Hatcher
Leo and Donna Kislan
Majestic Yachts
Nation's Medicines
Rollin Pyles
Mr. Gary Cox
Mr. Mason Dyer
Mr. Michael Azzara
Several Anonymous Donors (car wash fundraiser)

Enjoy the slideshow!

Monday, June 14, 2010

ETCA Raises Money for the D.C. Trip

I, once again, apologize for not posting in a few weeks. With final grades being due at both schools and then the fundraising activities that we have done, there hasn't been a lot of idle time to sit and type! Also, I taught an Energy Based class for Lindsey's Roger's Explorers program using ETCA materials last Monday and Tuesday! Whew! Anyway, I am so glad to announce that ALL STUDENT FEES ARE PAID! We have had several donations from "Friends of the Academy"! I would like to take a few minutes to thank these people: Nation's Medicines, Jim Hadley at Majestic Yachts, Mike and Wanda Hatcher, Larry & Sheila Bryant, Rollin Pyles, Bob Johnston with AIKCU, Mason Dyer with AIKCU, Michael Azzara with Siemens, Dr. Phil Aaron, The Office of County Judge Executive Ann Melton, Adair County School Board, Gary Cox with AIKCU, Ellen Zornes with Adair County Substance Abuse Coalition, Leo and Donna Kislan, and the miscellaneous donors that attended our car wash! There is still money coming in, and that money will be used to take the students to eat somewhere nice, buy their lunch on Saturday and/or Sunday, help those who have limited spending money get a souvenir, etc.
We are having a preparation meeting this week sometime, and then we will be leaving about midnight on Thursday the 24th! I am driving and LWC van with 12 high school students and my 6 year-old, Connor....so start praying for me NOW!
I am currently teaching high school math for the Upward Bound program at Lindsey starting today through July 2nd. So I will try to get a few more posts done during this time because there are lots of activities that I still need to share with you!

Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

NEED Youth Awards Ceremony in Frankfort, KY

First, I want to apologize for such a late posting of this AWESOME event regarding the ETCA! The late posting has nothing to do with my lack of excitement, but I have had strep throat all weekend and have pretty much been useless. OK, enough excuses. I spent most of the day today contacting the Senator's office and scheduling a tour of the Capitol, trying to get a tour of the White House, filling out forms that were due yesterday to ensure our registration, and finally brainstorming on how in the world we are going to raise about $4000 by June 4th! I have faith that the students will lead a few good fundraisers and I hope to get some community and school district donations to help with the trip expense.

While we were at Frankfort, the First Lady, Jane Brashear, wanted to talk specifically with the ETCA students! She invited us to the Governor's mansion after she has some panels installed on the mansion itself! I knew she meant business, when a guy in a black suit with an earpiece on asked me for one of my business cards so that contact could be made by the First Lady! Wow!

Now that we have reached the Frankfort goal, our next big event for the year is a field trip to Cooper Station Coal Plant in Somerset, and then on to Laurel Ridge Landfill where the gases from trash (methane) is burned to generate electricity. So the students will experience electricity generation from a renewable and non-renewable standpoint. This trip is planned for May 26th, so be looking out for photos and comments regarding this trip! Meanwhile, fundraising will continue and the focus on Washington will become greater and greater!

I am so proud of our students! I can't wait to grow with them as we attend the National NEED ceremony as a team of people striving to make a difference in our world.

Signing out...Heather

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

East Kentucky Power Representative Speaks to ETCA Members

Nick Comer, a representative of East Kentucky Power (EKP) spoke to ETCA members at both Adair and Russell County High Schools last Friday, May 7th. He talked in depth about electricity generation and how electricity gets to our homes. One topic that he spent a significant amount of time on the topic of a renewable energy program in which EKP is a partner with University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. There are about 20 farmers in the state of Kentucky that are growing 5 acres each of a native Kentucky grass called switchgrass. Switchgrass has about 70% of the BTU rating as coal. They are studying the harvesting, pelletizing, conveying, and burning of this grass in their boilers. They are investigating issues such as any residues left in the boiler due to the switchgrass, conveying the pellets, percentages of switchgrass to be added in with the coal, etc. It was a very interesting presentation. Mr. Comer spoke to my sophomores last year as well. This time last year, they were just receiving the switchgrass in bales, much like hay. This year, the pellets have been made! What progress! It was very interesting to me to hear the presentation this year and compare it to last year's speech! The students really enjoyed it! They also did well on their quizzes yesterday!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lake Cumberland Technology Center Starts Education in Solar

Yesterday, the students in the Electrical Circuits Lab II began learning how to connect solar panels in series and parallel. Students will investigate the difference in wiring the entire 24-panel array in series to get maximum voltage versus wiring two sections of 12 panels in parallel to increase amperage. Lyndsey Ayers and Brad Stephens are both ETCA members and are enrolled in this class. They are both pictured in this slideshow!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

RCHS Energy Technology Career Academy Beta Class Goes to the Roof!

RCHS Sophomore ETCA Beta Class get to go to the roof! After much pleading, I was allowed to take the students up on the roof to show them the size and assembly of the solar array helping to power their school.

SunAir Systems - The Installer

I added one more link for your convenience! It is the link to SunAir Systems, the company that was contracted to install the solar arrays at both Adair and Russell County High Schools. Dave Merrill, the owner and installer, was a pleasure to work with and was willing to teach me as we went! I learned so much from him! Thank you, Dave! I would recommend SunAir to anyone interested in installing an array!

RCHS is Online!!

Good Morning!
I just checked, and RCHS is online so that we can view the kWh produced by this system anytime. Copy and paste this link into you address bar to view! So far, this array has generated 215 kWh for the school. I know that is not an enormous amount of electricity, but it is 215 kWh that Russell County School District does not have to pay for! It is only April, too! Can't wait to see what these systems do in the summer!


The title of the page shows LWC Energy Technology Career Academy, but it will be changed soon to "Russell County High".

I will also put this link under "Favorite Links" on the blog home page.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ACHS Monitoring System is UP and Running!


If you paste the link above into the address bar on your computer, Adair County High's power output graph and numbers are available for you to view anytime! Isn't that awesome!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The final day of the project at ACHS!

Well, today Thursday, April 8th, concludes the installation at ACHS and the entire solar project that was funded by the ARC grant. After the installation was complete, we went back to RCHS to change a jumper location in the inverter panel so that crazy "derating" error would clear. After verifying this fix, Dave and I parted ways at RCHS. He hadn't seen his wife in 10 days, so he was anxious to get on the road. He had about a 10-11 hour drive ahead of him and it was about 3 p.m. when we finished. Overall, this project was a wonderful learning experience for me, and I hope for those students who were able to be involved. We still have to replace the damaged panel as soon as AEE solar gets it to us. I have a claim in, and hopefully the panel will show up sometime this week or the next. I feel confident that I can make the replacement. I'll just need a little help getting it on the roof!
That's all for now. Again, special thanks to all those involved in this successful installation!


Friday, April 9, 2010

ACHS Solar Project - Day 1

So now it is Wednesday, the first day of the ACHS installation. This time, I didn't wait to call for some extra manual labor. I thought of Macgyver first, since he is on the football team and would be good with the heavy lifting! Then, Jacob. He is a real "go-getter". Nothing against the girls, but there was a lot of heavy objects and I needed the biggest bang for my buck! They met me at school at 9:00. I drove us (me, Jacob, and Macgyver) down to the Maintenance garage where all the materials were delivered. While we were unpacking and loading the trailer, Dave was scoping out the roof for the best placement of the array. Yes, I would love to have them on the front of the roof, but it is really more important to be close to the maintenance room where we will make connections. See, if you run electrical lines too far, a voltage drop will be experienced....and we need as much voltage as possilble so that we produce as much power as possible! Power=Volts x Amps!

I found out from Lowe's that their computer was messed up and they could not get us any more 4" x 8" blocks. Hubbard's had the right blocks and agreed to deliver them late Tuesday. Well, I went by to check on the delivery, and good thing I did. They delivered 8" x 8" blocks! So, I called Jeff at Hubbard's this morning to get this corrected because it would hold up the installation if we did not have the blocks Wednesday morning. And I definitely wanted Macgyver and Jacob there to help get blocks on the roof.

At 6:30 this morning I called Hubbard's. Jeff brought the blocks over around 9:00 (perfect timing). He was very helpful because he had a lift that helped get the pallet of blocks up to the awning over the cafeteria. We then carried the blocks over the edge of the building to the job site. Since Jeff was such a nice guy, he agreed to lift the heavy panels up to the awning, too! Thank you, Jeff! After all the heavy lifting was complete, I let Jacob and Macgyver go. I finished up the conduit and wiring, while Dave mounted the inverter box in the Maintenance room.

At the end of the day, we had built the racking system, installed the panels, run the rack's ground wire, bent and secured conduit (to the edge of the roof). Tomorrow looks like mostly electrical hook-ups and testing! Can't wait!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Well, today was the final day at RCHS! We finished up today at about 5:30...a couple of hours earlier than Monday! Today consisted of running conduit, pulling wires, landing wires, mounting modules, making blocks for conduit support, testing voltages, and clean-up. I had a special helper today - Connor, my 6 year-old son. He measured, and marked, and helped a lot with clean up! There is an awesome shot of him in front of the solar array....I have it captioned, "This is my future!" It truely is his generation's future. Educating our children is the best thing we can do for them in there life...besides loving them, of course! Ok...getting mushy. We start at ACHS tomorrow with rack assembly and solar array construction. Feel free to come to the back of the High School and check us out. Jacob Burton and Macgyver Manning, two of my sophomore ETCA students, are going to help load all the parts and get them to the roof! Unfortunately, Hubbard's Building Supply delivered the wrong size cement blocks....which means that I will be going to get the right size tomorrow morning first thing so that we can get an early start. It gets hot on the roof; so doing as much heavy lifting early is to our advantage! Talk to you tomorrow.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Day One - RCHS Solar Array Project

Day one was a lot of manual labor, to say the least! Dave Merrill, with Sun-Air Systems (the contractor) and I were the only installers for most of the day. After handing the racking system and 14 solar arrays up a ladder, we just couldn't get the concrete blocks up the ladder on our own! I called and ETCA member, Jose Rodriguez and asked him to bring a friend and help get the concrete blocks to the roof. He was glad to help for a little cash! He did a great job, as expected. Joe Edmunds, Jose's friend was a great help, too!
I have to be honest...I am sore in places I didn't know could hurt! It's been a while since I performed such strenuous manual labor! We had a nice breeze on the roof most of the time. I have an official "farmer's tan"! It was a great day! We got the entire 14-panel system mounted and grounded. Tomorrow is mostly running conduit, mounting the inverter and data collection system, and tying everything into a couple of breakers in the main power panel.
RCHS Maintenance crew came to get a review of what we were doing and were very supportive! Thanks to Mr. Blakey, Asa, Scott, Jose, and Joe! Looking foward to tomorrow!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A New Semester Begins....and a New Beta Class!

I am so excited about starting the second Energy Technology Career Academy Class! This class of students will be the BETA class! They are sophomores and are about to embark on an energy journey that they will never forget and hopefully they will use the information obtained in these classes the rest of their lives! Class starts tomorrow in both Russell and Adair counties. The Alpha class (current Juniors) will continue on with either a dual credit classes offered by Lindsey Wilson College - Markets Without Borders, or 3-Phase Commercial Wiring Lab (wire in the solar panels) or Computer Aided Drafting (offered at Lake Cumberland Technology Center) and I will be starting our new BETA class! Here's to a great year!