“I hope we see more of these soon,” remarked Waldorf’s gardening and horticulture teacher Ms. Jeannine Davis who was driving on the Loop Parkway on her way home. She was referring to the 156-foot tall wind turbine generator that stands overlooking Long Island’s south shore. The turbine is just one part of the Town of Hempstead’s Point Lookout Energy Park. On a recent October afternoon, Ms. Davis brought a group of 8th grade students to visit the energy park, which also features working-examples of solar, hydrogen and geothermal energy. The trip is part of a new unit Ms. Davis is developing on green and renewable energy sources for her 8th grade gardening and horticulture class curriculum.
“The kids had a great time learning about the park’s solar and wind-powered shellfish nursery,” she said. “As students of Long Island’s environment and history, we know that shellfish (clams, oysters, etc.) help filter and clean the waters surrounding Long Island and have also been a big part of our fishing industry. Sadly, the declining water quality around Long Island has caused the shellfish population to suffer.”
As part of their tour, the students learned about the park’s solar-powered Floating Upwelling System (“FLUPSY” for short) that helps circulate water through giant tanks holding millions of baby clams and oysters. When the clams get older, they’ll be released into the wild to naturally clean the water’s off Long Island’s south shore.
The Waldorf students also learned about the parks’ solar field, solar trackers (two solar panels that track the sun’s path), hydrogen fueling station and wind turbine. One spot on their tour – a self-reliant solar office building which was acquired from the New York Institute of Technology – inspired a few students to think about participating in the Solar Decathlon when they get older. The Solar Decathlon is a program developed by the U.S. Department of Energy that challenges college students to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.