Archive for Friday, May 11, 2012

LHS students study energy consumption

Mallory Thompson, left, and Julia Price, both juniors, check out the heat coming from a light bulb during an experiment in Lawrence High School science teacher Alan Gleue’s classroom Friday.

Mallory Thompson, left, and Julia Price, both juniors, check out the heat coming from a light bulb during an experiment in Lawrence High School science teacher Alan Gleue’s classroom Friday.

May 11, 2012


Students don’t often get to use foot massagers or space heaters in school.

But this week in Alan Gleue’s advanced physics class at Lawrence High School, that’s exactly what students were doing as they measured the energy consumption of all sorts of appliances.

“When you are using stuff, you don’t actually think about its impact on the environment and how much it is actually costing,” junior Ella Magerl said.

Because students don’t pay electric bills, they don’t often think about how much energy they are using. And that is one of the reasons Gleue ties energy consumption into the unit he teaches about electricity.

Earlier in the year, Gleue brought in his home energy bill to show the students how electricity is paid for. And he also connected energy usage to more than just money.

“The more efficient it is, the less coal is being burned, the less CO2 that is in the atmosphere, the less global warming there is. We talk a little bit about that,” Gleue said.

For one lesson, Gleue shopped at second-hand stores buying small household appliances like a George Foreman grill, lamp, curling iron, toaster, space heater, hair dryer and iron.

For some of the high school girls, the biggest surprise was how much energy hair dryers consume.

“The small things that you don’t think use a lot of energy actually can add up,” said Shelby Steichen, another junior who was working in a group with Magerl.

Last summer Gleue was one of seven high school science teachers and one community college professor who spent six weeks at Kansas University as part of the Research Experiences for Teachers program.

The program, which is funded for three years through a $500,000 National Science Foundation grant, focuses specifically on biofuels and is centered on research being conducted with the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis and the Transportation Research Institute. Gleue studied ways to reduce energy consumption.

On Friday, Gleue’s first-hour class was plugging in different kinds of light bulbs — an incandescent bulb, compact fluorescent bulb and LED — to see which ones gave off the most heat and light. Using a device that measures energy usage and working with a formula, the group also figured how much it would cost to power those light bulbs for four hours every day for a year.

Here are the calculations that Gleue’s students arrived at:

60 Watt incandescent light bulb

Cost of a four-pack of bulbs: $1.33

Lifetime: 1,000 hours

Cost to power for a year: 15 cents


Cost of light bulb: $2.24

Lifetime: 10,000 hours

Cost to power for a year: 4 cents


Cost of light bulb: $50

Lifetime: 30,000 hours or 10 years

Cost to power for a year: 3 cents

From those numbers, both Magerl and Steichen agreed CFLs were the way to go.

In fact, Magerl said she might consider replacing some in her home.

“For instance, there is a light fixture in my room. They burn out and don’t last long. I change it all the time,” Magerl said.

And that’s exactly what Gleue recommends.


Dan Eyler 5 years, 9 months ago

How about teaching them economics, like budgeting, managing a check book, how to pick a job that will allow you to pay back their student loan. About paying their bills before they purchase that new I phone. What it means to have to pay interest on loans. I certainly appreciate the need to know how much energy different light bulbs use in a year, but seriously that doesn't even matter when you don't understand student loans, basic everyday finances and managing a check book. This is just another example of a screwed educational process lacking in accountability for preparing students for life. Light bulbs.........Really.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

Umm, nowhere in this article does it state that this class on light bulbs is the sum total of the educational content at LHS.

Perhaps you need to go back to school and get a brush up on reading comprehension...... Really.

Clayton Kelly 5 years, 9 months ago

it's a science class, not economics or life skills...... seriously.... who peed on your french toast this morning....

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