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School of the Week: Alexander II Magnet School

Fourth and fifth grade students are learning how to harvest energy from solar panels, and had a virtual lesson from a retired NASA astronaut about space exploration

MACON, Ga. — Bibb County Schools' only Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) certified school has a couple of unusual science programs happening this week.

Fourth and fifth grade students at Alex II are learning about harvesting energy from solar panels, and space exploration.

Fifth grade Samuel Howard loves to learn about science, technology, engineering and math.

"We're the next generation of STEM people, and we have to know these things to help our planet," said Howard. "We're talking about circuits and conductors and insulators. There's a blackout and we're trying to power up the system."

Teachers April Harvey, Julie Baima and Jamita Roach explain how a STEM-certified curriculum works.

"We try to teach the students to have an open mindset of basically being able to apply science in math, science in reading, science anywhere that you can apply it," said Harvey.

"Hurricane Michael came through and we were without power for a full week, so what can we dream invent and create so we're not without power for a whole week," said Baima.

"With our simulators...the children come up and they create their own circuits, so that they can know that the circuits are related to the solar panels and they help power up the solar panels," said Roach.

Engineers from Georgia Power and Robins Air Force Base join classes virtually to show students how the energy sources work in real life.

"The solar farm at Robins Air Force Base and that there's way too many that you can count," said Howard. "She told us about windmills and that they harvest solar energy as well as solar panels."

Fourth grade teacher Leslie Brown was nominated to receive a virtual lesson from retired NASA astronaut Ron Garan for her students.

"We try to focus everything we do within a STEM career, and my God, they're going to have an actual astronaut who has been in space and done a spacewalk and been on the space station come talk to them. That's the best career fair there is," Brown said.

Some of the questions Brown said her students asked Garan included, 'If you scream in space, do you hear it?' and 'Whether (Garan) ever encountered space garbage.'

The next step in the "Power Up" unit is to give students individual kits to build their own mini-solar panels.

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