Students take lessons from energy summit

Students in Ponoka have taken their learning to a new level by attending an energy summit.

Students in Ponoka have taken their learning to a new level by attending an energy summit.

Jacobi Buffalo, Cowan Swampy, Leighton Raine and Joby Raine, all Grade 11 students at Ponoka Composite High School (PCHS), travelled with vice-principal Kathy McTaggart to learn about hydro, nuclear, solar and wind power as well as oil sands production.

They took part in Inside Education’s Generate 2013 Youth Energy Literacy Summit in Kananaskis recently.

The students also had a chance to hear about oil sands from two different presenters who gave both sides of the issues with oil sands production. Steve McIsaac, executive director for Inside Education, said in a press release he is confident these projects will engage young Albertans. “These students will be ambassadors, inspiring others in their schools and communities to become more aware about how they can make a difference in energy in our province.”

For Buffalo, the summit helped him understand the many ways power s used, especially how the sun can be used to get energy. “The solar panels were good.”

“It opened my eyes to all the jobs out there dealing with energy,” added Swampy.

Only 20 schools were picked to attend the summit in which there was a trade fair and a chance for students to build solar lanterns, explained McTaggart. The lanterns will be sent to an African community where people will find some use for them. Students also came together and designed something out of solar panels.

“I thought it was cool how one school made a solar microwave and cooked an egg,” said Swampy.

Part of the trip was for students to get a greater understanding of solar power as the school has two solar panel arrays on its roof, said McTaggart.

PCHS received a $10,000 grant three years ago to buy some energy saving solar panels but school renovations, which is about to enter its last phase, delayed installation. Students finally received approval to turn on the solar panels April 12, which will bring approximately 1.8 kilowatts of energy into the school. Alberta is an ideal province for solar energy in the summer and in the winter, said Jacobi. “It works better with the snow because of the reflection.”

The keynote speaker at the summit was Bilaal Rajan, a 16-year-old boy from Toronto, Ont. He is an ambassador for Unicef.

“That inspired me to do better at my goals,” said Buffalo.

Students also had a chance to extract oil from an oil sands sample and McTaggart feels the summit was educational for all involved.