Harnessing the elements

Published 10:01 pm Thursday, April 9, 2015

An Earth Day event at John Yeates Middle School on April 18 will showcase a green project by students and raise money for a field trip.

Between 9 a.m. and about 4 p.m., the school’s Cooperating Hampton Roads Organizations for Minorities Club will introduce the community to its SoWHy! energy and weather station project.

The project name stands for solar, wind, hydrogen. Using a mobile unit as the base, it started with a wind turbine and has been expanded as teacher Louis Garland successfully applied for more and more grant money.

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“Outside we have a wind turbine, solar panels and a weather station,” Garland said.

An “outdoor classroom” has also been created, he said, involving concrete tables with umbrellas and a chalkboard. The area is fully accessible for student with disabilities, he added.

“On the inside, we have insulation on the windows, workbenches for each energy system, and we have a display on all the different things CHROME students have done for the last two years,” Garland said.

On the day of the event, Mike Duman Automotive will bring an electric car and First Team Toyota will bring two hybrid cars, he said.

Centura College, The Aviation Institute of Maintenance and Tidewater Tech will all be at the event, according to Garland.

Meanwhile, students will be washing cars for donations. And folks could be rewarded for their generosity.

More than 90 area companies have donated prizes, Garland said. Each company will have a cup, and tickets bought with donations can be placed in these cups for prize drawings at 4 p.m.

Every $2 earns a ticket, Garland said. The combined prize pool is valued at almost $1,000.

“Some companies gave multiple gifts,” he said, adding folks don’t have to be there at the end of the day to win.

There will be hotdogs and drinks, Garland said, with PepsiCo sponsoring the event.

Other attractions will include a police car, and Driver Volunteer Fire Department will bring a fire truck, he said.

Garland said the plan is to raise enough money to send the CHROME students to a special event at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach in May.

Tickets to that event are $20, he said, and the club plans to rent a double-decker bus to ferry the CHROME students out there and back.

The alternative-energy trailer is available to all students in Suffolk, according to Garland, as well as groups like Scouts.

“We have a lot of people involved in it, and it all started out with a $1,000 grant for the wind turbine,” Garland said.

Combined grants for the project have reached $39,000 in two years, he said.