Engineering a good time

Published 10:27 pm Saturday, September 26, 2009

CHESAPEAKE — There were vampires hovering around the gym at Chesapeake Middle School Friday.

Only these were out for all the energy they could get as they suck the electricity coming into our homes.

Many kinds of typical household appliances, such as televisions, satellite dishes and computers, pull electricity even when not in use. For that reason the industry has coined the word, “vampire electronics.” A television, if it has a remote, draws five watts of electricity, when not in use while a satellite dish will use 60 watts.

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That was one of a variety of scientific facts students at the middle school got to see in action Friday at the school’s engineering fair.

“The experiments I enjoy. I don’t know why. I just do,” Josh Laney, an eighth grader, said about studying science. “You use science in your everyday life. It is awesome.”

Sydnee Hall and Brooke Dolan, both seventh graders, spent part of their summer at an AEP science camp in Columbus and came back to show their classmates how the energy bike they helped wire worked. With the bike attached to a generator, various kinds of lights and small appliances could function as long as a rider pumped the bike.

Sydnee likes the hands-on that the fair lets her do.

“You get to do it. You are not reading it out of a textbook. You get to experiment,” she said.

And getting that enthused was one of the missions of the fair. Organizing and participating were Marshall University professors, Chesapeake High School physics and Project Lead the Way students as well as youth from the middle school.

“This is to show young people what science is and hope they are interested and the fun things they do in science,” Ralph Oberly, a professor of physics at Marshall University, who coordinated some of the experiments.