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For the week of February 13 - 19, 2002


Students pursue ideas in alternative energy

Express Staff Writer

Inspired teachers not only help to create curious students they can sometimes impact the course of their lives. Watching Jessica Trager, a teacher at the Wood River Middle School in action is to see teaching done as it should be ówith passion.

Wood River Valley students Kelsey Lidstom, Gretchen Heath and Chelsea Vanderpool making tests at the old Guyer Hot Springs in Warm Springs for their Alternative Energy Project through the Middle School. Parent volunteer Craig Phelan backs them up lower on the snowy slope. Express photo Dana DuGan

Tragerís current undertaking is called "Curriculum Project Based Learning." Itís an instructional strategy in which project work is central rather than peripheral, she said.

Trager and her class of five seventh and eighth graders, spent a day visiting different sites that use alternative energy sources.

First they checked out the solar heated greenhouses at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden Center south of Ketchum, where they were given a tour by garden director Anita Northwood.

Next up was a visit to the former Guyer Hot Springs Resort, now called Carbon Hill. In the early 1900s, the large resort attracted people from all over the world who came for health reasons, "to take the water."

A steady flow of hot spring water still flows, though now it is nearly untapped except for the 23 geothermally heated homes on its pipe line.

Accompanying the group was Laureen Pitz, a technology fellow for Albertson's "Teaching With Technology" program, who supplied the probes the students took readings with for their tests. The information from the Computer Based Learning instruments were attached to a lap top which recorded the information.

Parent volunteer Craig Phelan a CPA, also accompanied the class. "He is committed to quality education in Blaine County and has volunteered all year long in my classes," said Trager. "Our students need that connection to the community and link with adults."

The students, Thomas Phelan, Taylor Stoecklein, Chelsea Vanderpool, Kelsey Lidstrom and Gretchen Heath have all given up an elective to be in the project and will be graded as they would in any other class.

"They are an eclectic mix." said Trager. "I want to demonstrate that all students will succeed in a project and problem based model."

Trager said that she created this as a special study class. "It happened because the students asked me to teach it." The class is cross-curricular, including science and math, social studies, local history and geography, and language arts.

The glue that ties it all together is the technology, said Trager. Their finished product will be a web site which asks the question "Can Blaine County lead the way in the generation of alternative energy and thereby reduce our dependence on fossil fuels?" The project demonstrates student learning and the solution that they propose.

On the Carbon Hill site, the students used the probes to calculate and graph the temperatures in the snow, in the hot springs, and then at a house heated by the geothermal spring and one immediately next door which is not.

The water temperature along the pipeline where the water is returned to the river, the temperature was 45 degrees Celsius, only one degree less than the sample they took at the area of the hot spring source. That's after heating 19 other houses.

Their final stop was Ohio Gulch where they were given a tour of the recycling center, where they heard some "impressive statistics about recycling."





The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.