Over the past month, Mr. Brent Kelchner's Eighth grade Science students have been engaged in a comprehensive STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) project which required them to design an "energy-efficient, sustainable building." The students were assigned a role as an architect, contractor, electrical engineer, or civil engineer and worked in four-member teams to complete their assignment. According to Mr. Kelchner, the students were provided with design parameters from an imaginary building owner seeking proposals for the design of a building that would be built in Washington, D.C., and that could achieve net-zero energy. "This means that it could use on-site renewable energy generation to power itself instead of taking energy from the city power lines," stated Mr. Kelchner. "Students had to determine the shape their building would have, calculate that its square footage was appropriate, and make sure that it met all of the city restrictions. Then, using real solar energy and wind speed data, they calculated the effectiveness of solar panels and wind turbines in Washington, D.C. and made decisions about how to meet the energy demand of their building using these energy sources as well as by incorporating energy-saving features."
After finalizing the design and planning how the building, parking lot, and required green space would be positioned on the property, each team created a model of their building, a blueprint, an energy budget, and a site plan showing the final design of the property, including details such as the types of trees they would plant to minimize water use. The project culminated with each team “pitching” their design proposal to the “building owner,” a role played alumnus Eric Fedder. Mr. Fedder was the Class of 2005's valedictorian and works as an architectural engineer in the Washington, D.C. area. He is presently serving as the senior project manager overseeing the construction of the Capital One headquarters building, which will be the the tallest building ever to be built in Washington, D.C. Many thanks are extended to Mr. Fedder for taking two days out of his busy schedule to meet with the Middle School students, judge their projects and share information with students about careers in engineering. Mr. Fedder commented that "he was blown away" with the quality of the students' designs and their understanding of the concepts involved. "They more than proved that they were up to the challenge," stated Mr. Fedder.
Pictured above are (from left) Emma Shultz, Taylor Keller, Nick Dorkoski, and Hunter Thomas. In the back row are Mr. Fedder and Mr. Kelchner. Click the photo to see a larger image.

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