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Energy, machines and people in motion


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PUD experts help students make sense of science

Attention Cashmere Middle School parents: If your seventh grader asks you for permission to ski behind a solar-powered car over the frozen highways of Canada, blame Jim White.

White, a Chelan County PUD engineer, and Eric Sydenstricker, PUD technician, are helping students in Bob Martin’s seventh grade science class build their own solar-powered model cars. To introduce the concept, White showed the class a YouTube video of him ice-skiing behind a car that operates totally on solar energy. Not to be outdone, Sydenstricker led the class outdoors, putting his radio-controlled monster truck through a parking-lot snow bank to show off its road skills.

Pretty cool stuff, huh?

The Cashmere demonstration in January kicked off a pilot program that’s bringing PUD employees into classrooms at four middle schools this year. Ruth Erwert, recruiting program manager and Bob Bauer, communications specialist at the PUD, brought the idea to the North Central Educational Service District (ESD). Mechelle LaLanne, ESD science coordinator, worked with teachers and ESD staff to develop the program. Erwert’s goal is to make students aware of career opportunities and “build a pipeline of future workers,” she said. LaLanne’s goal is to place experts in the classrooms to complement the curriculum, which in seventh grade focuses on energy, machines and motion.

The other middle schools and their projects are:

Entiat, where students are working with teacher Kevin Jones to learn about electrical circuits and how they operate mechanical devices. PUD experts offering help and encouragement are John Sagerser, Paul Resler and Cheryl Hobson.

Pioneer in Wenatchee. Under teacher Carolyn Dotter, students plan to investigate the challenges of underwater welding and mechanics. PUD divers Donnie Lane and Brent Thrapp are assisting.

Orchard in Wenatchee. Teacher Dan Myers is working with his students to build a working model of Rocky Reach Dam. PUD employees on that project are Dan Martyn, Tim Halliday, Andy Lolos and Eric Ostrom.

PUD staff will be in the classrooms once a week for six to eight weeks. Then as soon as school is out, students can attend the Action Academy at Rocky Reach. For four half days during the week of June 18, they’ll show-and-tell about their projects, take tours of the dam, talk about how their classroom work correlates to work at the dam, and hear from more PUD staff about career options in other fields.

“Whether students attend a four-year college, a technical school, or stay in the community and apply for an apprenticeship or entry-level job, we want them to realize there are opportunities with our utility,” Erwert said.

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