26 May 2007 - 09:22
  • News Code: 105503

For their final exam, students in Michele Ricard"s physics classes at Omaha North High School didn"t have to take a test.

Instead, they spent about a month designing energy-efficient houses.

Taking concepts about energy, technology, sound and light that they learned throughout the year, more than 140 students designed homes using only alternative energy sources such as wave energy and wind and solar power.

On Monday, the students set up their presentations at the school, 4410 N. 36th St., to be judged.

It"s the second year that Ricard has had students do the final project. She said it"s an important lesson because society has to figure out a way to address concerns about waste and energy use.

"We want to teach our kids responsibility," she said.

The team of Lauren Dietzel, Andy Rogers and Taja Harris did a lot of research on what kind of house would be environmentally-friendly.

They chose to design their home out of cordwood, short logs set in mortar so that the round ends of the logs show on the face of the house.

The roof would be made of solar power shingles.

The team also found that wind turbines would be an efficient way of powering the house.

For lighting, the group would use fluorescent light bulbs. Even though they"re more costly, the bulbs put out less heat and last longer than a regular light bulb.

Rogers, 16, said he changed the 40-watt bulbs in his bedroom to fluorescent about a year ago, and they have yet to burn out. He recently changed three other 40-watt bulbs at his house to fluorescent ones.

"We should do our best to take care of the environment," he said. "I"ve been more conscious of leaving lights on in rooms."

Dietzel said she learned that cutting back on electricity, conserving water and recycling would make a big impact.

"It helps protect the environment from all the waste we produce," said the 16-year-old. "People need to be more aware."

The group of Muranda Dolezal, Keyla Palmer and Alisha Carlson created a model glass home.

Instead of using solar panels, their house would use solar film, which holds more energy than panels and doesn"t have to be changed for at least 50 years.

The house would be supported by solar-heated tubes and have a water cistern.

The roof, also made of quadruple-pane glass, would be covered with soil, plants and grass and would collect rain and snow to store for water.

The lake behind the home could be used for pumping more water into a purifier for storage.

The team estimated that such a house would cost about $2.5 million but said it would be worth it.

"I think there should be more green houses," said Dolezal, 16. Palmer, 17, said she is going to do her part for the environment by taking shorter showers.

Carlson, 17, wants to someday purchase an environmentally-friendly car. "Eventually, if I can afford it, I want to get a hybrid."



News Code 105503

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