Building Alternative Energy

2022 marks PAFE’s 20th anniversary, and to celebrate, we will share a story each month to honor the teachers and students who are making a difference thanks to your donations.

Today’s story highlights our extraordinary educators. 

Alex Woodmansee has 12 years of experience in Design Engineering at Parker Racor (advanced engineering and technology developer of engine fuel filtration solutions) and six years of experience teaching English and Technical Writing at California State University Stanislaus. In other words, he brings a wealth of research and technical writing experience to Clark Fork High School.

Alex wants to bring engineering challenges to Clark Fork High School students. “Learning about the world and then applying that knowledge to solve a problem is at the core of being an engineer,” said Alex. “I believe alternative energy technologies are viable and will be an even more significant part of students’ lives in the future.” 

Electric cars and solar panel roofs are only the beginning. 

Alex collaborated with Rebecca Haag, a Clark Fork High School science teacher who believes in conservation and dedicates a unit to alternative energy. Now, students can apply their learning in Mrs. Haag’s class to real engineering problems and solve them with their own hands by constructing prototypes, troubleshooting, analyzing, and modifying to improve efficiency. 

All Clark Fork High school students are eligible to participate in this program. On the day we visited, they assembled two projects – a windmill and solar panel prototypes. They had varying degrees of success and frustration, and we watched as they overcame these challenges to figure out why something wasn’t working. Once they had it operational, they recorded the variables, gathered data, and then improved for efficiency, along the way, collaborating, debating, testing, and reworking.

We asked a few students what they think and had responses like:

“I want to be a medical engineer.” 

“Initially, I wanted to go into the army, but I learned I could do this in the navy. Now I want to be an engineer in the Navy.”

Did you even know a medical engineer was a thing in high school? 

In the future, students will have to make decisions about how to incorporate alternative energy into their lives, and Alex said his goal is for them to be informed.

We thank teachers like Mr. Woodmansee and Mrs. Haag, who stretch the school curriculum and push students beyond the classroom boundaries, giving them a new vocabulary and real-world skill sets.

PAFE is proud to facilitate their excellent work through our Teacher Grants Program,  made possible by generous donors. This is yet another example of how your support makes a difference in the lives of educators and students.