Neil McNeil high school teacher Joe Ferro hopes exposing his students to renewable energy technology today will lead to a brighter future tomorrow. Ferro created and installed the wind turbine and the students added the school logo to the tail fin. Photo by Evan Boudreau

Students introduced to hands-on renewables

  • August 29, 2015

TORONTO - To encourage his students to start thinking about the environment of tomorrow today, technology teacher Joe Ferro has brought renewable energy into the classroom at Neil McNeil High School.

Outside his technology classroom at the east-end Toronto school, Ferro has built a wind turbine generator.

“With all the talk about global warming and air pollution ... (students) need to kind of be mindful of (renewable energy) at a younger age,” he said. “By being exposed to the technology as a student maybe it will spark something in them in the future.”

The wind turbine, a project three years in the making that was completed during the last school year, generates enough electricity to power several desktop computers at a time. Anything extra is stored in the mobile battery unit which can be used for things like charging cellphones, one of Ferro’s student engagement tactics.

“To get them interested I’ll just walk around the room and ask if anybody needs their phone charged,” he said. “They’ll look at me strange because most teachers want to take their phones away. Then they become interested.”

When the new school year begins in September, Ferro hopes to incorporate the wind turbine into his lessons.

“I have to sit down to write a lesson plan,” he said. “There is no book on this, no lessons I can find on the Internet, so it is still a work in progress.”

An example would be for students to draw a correlation between wind speed and the amount of power generated by examining the wind turbine and battery station.

Ferro went on to say that the Neil McNeil student body is more open to kinesthetic rather than strictly academic learning.

“We’re an all-boys school and they are very much hands-on learners,” he said. “Rather than read it out of a book or look up an article on wind power they prefer working with (the wind turbine) and actually seeing the results first hand.”

The only real disappointment about the project thus far for Ferro is that for the most part students were unable to take part in the construction process due to insurance reasons.

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