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Students experience science in action

WESTPORT Students from throughout Essex County got a hands-on and occasionally full-body lesson in the sciences last week. The 23rd Annual Essex County Environmental Field Days was held on May 22 and 24 at the Westport Fair Grounds. One of the most popular presentations was an energy bike, which encouraged students to hop on and try to power common household items like light bulbs, fans and a blow dryer. Vicki Wuest, Cornell Cooperative Extension Energy Program Assistant, gave a brief lesson on electricity before having students compare compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) against standard light bulbs. Having the hands-on demonstration helped send the lesson about energy home, said Wuest. Elizabethtown student Skyler Graham took a turn pedaling the bike, and saw the different amount of energy it required to power the different types of light bulbs. It definitely wasnt easy. Its a lot smarter to use the CFL light bulbs, said Graham. Minerva educator Diane McNally brought her class to the program. Its an annual field trip for the school. They always have new and interesting things, which we like, said McNally. The Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Program and the Water, Soil Conservation District jointly design and present the yearly program. The program supplements and reinforces classroom learning through hands-on application of environmental or natural resource subject matter specific to Essex County, the Adirondacks and the Lake Champlain bases. This year students had lessons on energy, weather, watershed models, dairy, maple syrup, trees, hydroponics, nutrition and local foods. Students took home a sapling to plant, along with a tomato plant grown at the Baker Research Farm in Willsboro. Mike Davis, manager of the farm, started the sun sugar tomatoes about six weeks before handing them out. The plants were part of a lesson on local food. The program is open to all schools located in Essex County to bring their fifth and sixth grade classes. This year, over 400 students participated in the program.

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