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Task force brings clean energy lesson to George Washington youngsters

Michael DiVittorio
| Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Fifth-grade reading teacher Brittny Doss watches Logan Schillinger, Jaylon Campbell, Marvelle Cromerdie-Daniels and Leo club member Persona Warfield conduct an experiment moving a toy car that runs off of a solor panel.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Fifth-grade reading teacher Brittny Doss watches Logan Schillinger, Jaylon Campbell, Marvelle Cromerdie-Daniels and Leo club member Persona Warfield conduct an experiment moving a toy car that runs off of a solor panel.

Some McKeesport Area elementary students received entertaining and interactive lessons about clean energy on Friday.

Presenters of the Carnegie Science Center's Science on the Road program visited George Washington School for a school-wide assembly. Students visited various stations where they learned about worms and composting, building wind turbines, electricity, overfishing, pollutants and watersheds.

“That's what the kids are all working with right now ... different things to help us have a clean, green planet,” presenter Lara Baxter said. “The adventure stations are the part of our show that allow kids to go through and get hands-on experience with everything, which the science center feels is a really important aspect to learning.”

Staff educator Michaela Williams conducted several demonstrations including a time line of how energy gets used through the center's Captain Green's Time Machine.

“We start all the way from sun,” Williams said. “How the sun shines down on the leaves and the leaves become fossil fuels. We burn the fossil fuels to boil water to make steam to spin a generator, and that's why your light bulb comes on. They plug things in and they're like, ‘Wow. We got electricity. That's great.' A lot of the time they don't know where it all starts. Where does your electricity come from? How do you get it?”

“This is the best assembly I've ever had,” said fifth-grader Doc McGrew. “You get to learn about science and they let you do all this hands-on stuff to learn how stuff works. All my other assemblies they just talked to us about doing the right thing. This one they actually let you learn about it.”

Fellow fifth-grader Nicholas Ferree said his favorite part of the program was building forts with biodegradable packing peanuts.

“We got to learn how hot light is and how wind works,” fifth-grader Seth Demery said. “We learned how there's a lot of electricity that goes through our houses.”

Williams said the program launched a little more than four years ago, and there has been a shift in education from green projects to robotics, molecular biology and other science fads.

“The green movement isn't as popular as it used to be, but the kids are definitely engaged and interested and love learning,” Williams said.

The science center visit was provided by the Hill Task Force through a $1,000 donation from the McKeesport Hospital Foundation.

The task force is comprised of the upper Seventh Ward, Eighth Ward and part of the Ninth Ward.

The group has done something for the students at George Washington School for the past 10 years. Activities included bringing treat bags and having pizza parties near Halloween.

“It makes me very happy,” said task force president Dee Connor as she looked out over the busy stations. “They seem to all be enjoying themselves very much, and it's a privilege for us to come here and show them that we care.”

Foundation executive director Michele Matuch said her organization wanted to thank Connor for all of her efforts in helping children, and was happy to donate.

“It really is in honor of her,” Matuch said. “They do more of a Halloween type of thing with the kids, but they wanted this year to be more special.”

Matuch noted the science center visit was a “last hoorah” for the children.

Students from George Washington and Centennial schools will move in January to Twin Rivers Primary/Intermediate.

Mon River Fleet Leo Club members volunteered at the stations on Friday.

Connor credits principal Paul Sweda for the idea for the science center visit.

“They've always reached out to the children of the surrounding school community,” Sweda said. “This year they wanted to make a big impact since this is the last year for this school building. Twin Rivers Intermediate is a science and math building, so we centered this year's event on the Carnegie Science Center and their interaction with our students. It makes the students more aware of how precious the planet earth is.”

Sweda, who will be principal at Twin Rivers, said he really appreciates the task force and its efforts.

“They're a great group of ladies,” Sweda said.

Connor said she hopes her group will be able to help the students after they move to the new building.

“We haven't decided what we should do yet,” she said. “They want us to come over, but we have to decide. Right now we're selling fudge to raise money for next year. We do all kinds of odds and ends things. Whatever money we make we spend on these kids.”

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or

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