Students participate in renewable energy program

Matt Veno
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Pugwash District High School students, Lindsay Anderson, left, James Russell, Trenda Halverson and Jenna Cottrill presented the findings of their project on wind energy in Pugwash on Monday at a gathering in Truro.

TRURO — Compromises have to be made when it comes to harnessing the power of Mother Nature in Nova Scotia.

That’s the lesson Cumberland County students from Pugwash District High School and Advocate District School learned and shared Monday at a presentation in Truro.

“We found out that everyone supported wind power but when it came to putting it in Pugwash they said no, or they were unsure,” said James Russell, a 14-year-old Pugwash resident.

The gathering was part of The Energy Around Us pilot program started by the Departments of Energy and Education to encourage learning about renewable energy and teams from 10 schools from across the province took part in

Monday’s presentations. The program encourages Grade 9 students to learn by doing hands-on projects.

“That’s the best way,” said Marilyn Webster, a science consultant with the Department of Education. “When you learn to ride a bike you don’t read about it then go do it.”

Nova Scotia hopes to generate 40 per cent of its energy by renewable sources by 2020. Currently that figure is at 12 per cent.

Pugwash students took a look at the pros and cons of wind energy, a topic of interest to them as a wind site has been proposed for the area.

A team of Advocate students did the same, but expanded their topic to include solar and tidal power.

Both schools conducted surveys to gauge public opinion on renewable energy and how to implement it.

“We found that people actually didn’t have a lot of information about it and were opposed to it because of bad things they have heard,” said Advocate Harbour’s Samara Flueck.

“But we found out that with some education people would be more open to it,” added Sapphire Brine-Spicer.

Pugwash students concluded that people were more in favour of putting a wind site several miles away, to get a balance of green power while leaving the picturesque shore properties as they are.

“I think it was good for them to see the different opinions and why people feel the way they do,” said Jill MacKenzie, a social studies teacher in Pugwash.

And aside from getting students to think about renewable energy as an alternative source for the future, that was he purpose of the project, said Webster.

“We wanted them to do active research and learn for themselves,” she said.

“And you can see by their smiles when they are talking about this they know what they are talking about and they are having fun.”

Organizations: Pugwash District High School, Advocate District School, Department of Education

Geographic location: Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Cumberland County Advocate Harbour

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