ANSEP: Interactive Energy Activity

“Each group has 10 minutes left to finish your wind turbines,” exclaims the instructor.

ANSEP, the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, or ANSEP, hosted an interactive energy activity on March 19 that involved 48 students from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District.

The students were required to test insulation and light bulbs for efficiency and make wind turbines. The wind turbines were then tested in order to demonstrate alternative energy sources. This activity was part of a 12-day program involving the ANSEP Middle School Academy. This program hopes to get young Alaska students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

“I believe some of these kids really are going to be successful,” said Sherri Hart, who is an eighth grade math teacher in the Mat-Su Borough. Some of the 48 students in the group were familiar faces, because some are her current students.

“This is just the beginning down a long successful career path,” Hart said. She was a chaperone for the event, aiding in any questions the kids had.

“I hang out with them and just bond. I love my job,” said Mohamed Niagne, another chaperone at the event. Niagne was able to provide exceptional support for the students, as he is a civil engineer himself.

“These kids here are really smart. I see them doing big things,” he said.

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With only 10 minutes remaining to complete her project, Haylee Hendrick from Houston Middle School had some doubts.

“We don’t think it’s going to work, but we’ll try it anyway,” Hendrick said.

Her group-mate, Orion Kutney, a sixth grader at Wasilla Middle school, followed up Hendrick’s statement with “never stop making adjustments,” as he fine-tuned parts of their wind turbine.

The interactive energy activity ultimately provided young students a time to experience first-hand how alternative energy forms are created. Tons of laughter, excitement, and positive energy filled the room as the wind turbines began being tested.

The students collaborated amongst themselves, creating bonds between students they had never met before. Hayley had just met Orion at this activity and formed a friendship, even though both students said they were nervous as they first entered this 12-day hands-on program. As for career plans, Hendrick wants to become a veterinarian and Kutney wants to become an engineer.