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Outreach coordinator Susie Toman of the nonprofit RiverQuest interacts with Lenape Elementary fourth-grade students as she talks about energy.

If there were a way to capture the energy and enthusiasm produced by fourth-grade students during a science program at Lenape Elementary School Thursday, it could have powered the whole building.

Students from Sue Girardi’s class filled the library for a hands-on lesson on energy sources given by RiverQuest, a nonprofit education organization.

“You can’t be too young to talk about taking care of the environment and learning about energy sources,” Girardi said.

Garron Bennett — wearing glasses and a T-shirt that read: “This is what awesome looks like” – was the first to answer when students were asked to name a natural energy resource.

“Coal,” he yelled out, before being invited to stand up.

He was soon joined by others wearing placards matching their answers, which included natural gas, oil, wood, wind, sun and water.

“Programs like this open their eyes to the versatility of our resources and how we use them,” said Susie Toman, outreach coordinator.

Toman and Deb Larson, program coordinator, talked about the costs and benefits of both renewable and nonrenewable sources and asked the students to consider the best ways to harness energy while protecting the environment.

That prompted a question from Zowie Wills: “If we go to solar power, how are people going to make money – like the people at the gas station?”

Which led to a brief explanation on how energy impacts the economy.

Companies have to constantly change to keep up with how energy is used, said Larson.

Students gathered near a large fan, brainstorming how they could make a small-scale wind turbine rotate fast enough to power a light. Their smiles lit up when the light finally went on after they made a slight adjustment to the blades.

They finished up the program by making their own turbines using stiff colored paper blades attached to the eraser end of a pencil. Those who got theirs to spin in front of the fan cheered, while others went back to the drawing board to figure out why theirs refused to budge.

“Programs like this teach students that sometimes things don’t always work out the first time,” Toman said.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or [email protected].

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