What happens to the heat generated when automobiles burn gasoline? Most of the energy is lost. Four universities, including the University of Arkansas, have been given a grant to attempt to discover a way to harness and use this lost energy. The schools needed a partner to pilot the project and the UA staff has selected Hellstern Middle School in Springdale.
“We chose Hellstern for several reasons,” said Dr. Shannon G. Davis, who works in the UA’s Department of Electrical Engineering. “Kathy Prophet, a teacher at Hellstern, was one of the authors of the new national science standards. She and several other Hellstern teachers worked with our faculty this past summer. Kathy is a nationally known teacher and the entire group of teachers is gifted.
“This is also part of our growth concept. You will see engineers and physicists come out of these classrooms.”
I graduated from the University of Arkansas but never had an opportunity in middle school or high school like these students are having,” said Hellstern’s Tammy Guthrie. “They will move on with confidence in their scientific skills.”
What exactly are the Hellstern science class students doing?
“Our staff believes in ‘doing science’ rather than just reading science,” Guthrie said. “Our students are conducting experiments in the area of optimizing power. They are being observed by UA staff members. Eventually a video will be made of our students that will be circulated to schools all over the country as a demonstration of adapting to the new science standards.”
The new science standards don’t officially go into effect in Arkansas until next year but Guthrie noted, “We like to stay on the cutting edge. This group of teachers isn’t afraid to try new things. Kathy Prophet, Cassie Kautzer and Greg Herzig, our science teachers, are finding and creating new opportunities for their students as their content standards are changing.
“At this point they are exploring energy transfer. They will eventually be able to talk about the relationship between temperature or kinetic energy and the total energy in a system.”
Hellstern’s students are doing work similar to that being done by UA students. Guthrie said, “It may look a little different but ultimately we are investigating the same phenomenon. “
Davis added, “We are introducing sixth graders to heat transfer. Eventually we will develop harder projects to be used by high school students. Our ultimate goal is to inspire students to become engineers, scientists and mathematicians.”
“We are honored they chose us,” Guthrie said. “We have incredible teachers and our kids are amazing. Our students are definitely enjoying science.”
Stanford, Illinois and Howard are the other universities involved in this grant project.