The Gaines Group
North Fork Middle School

6th Grade Students working to create a Zero-Energy Science Lab

6th Grade Students are working to create a Zero-Energy Science Lab at North Fork Middle School.

North Fork Middle SchoolNorth Fork Middle School

I changed careers this past Friday, I was a teacher at North Fork Middle School.

This was my second time at the school, the first time was just a visit to look at a modular structure used as a storage space on the middle school campus. My return was to train scientist to think through energy strategies to reduce consumption in the modular unit. 

North Fork Middle Schoolharrisonburg energy audit

Last year, the school superintendent, Jeremy Raley, challenged the students to figure out a way to reduce the school’s energy costs by using alternative energy. The students last year created the idea of converting a modular unit being used for storage on campus into a zero-energy science lab. A lot of work analysis must first be done to reduce energy usage of the structure before adding alternative energy. While plans are being prepared, students are already learning about energy transfer, alternative energy, and building science.

North Fork Middle School

harrisonburg energy audit

My time with the students was spent explaining places where buildings “leak” energy through the thermal envelope.

We were able to use thermal images to find some big gaps that can easily be fixed. We calculated savings by converting lighting into more efficient bulbs. We looked at the advantages created by using storm windows and discussed the cost impacts of replacing windows. One group of students shared with me their plans to create a variety of solar air heaters that they will implement this year to reduce the need for electric energy use for heating.

North Fork Middle School North Fork Middle School

This will be an ongoing project that is going to need a lot of help and support. I will keep you updated as plans progress. These 6th graders are showing that the next generation is ready, willing, and already acting to solve our future energy problems.