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New Mexico State University

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Students to experience power of alternative energies during NMSU field trip

A solar-powered light beam strong enough to melt steel may sound like science-fiction, but 60 Gadsden Middle School students will find it really does exist during a visit to New Mexico State University March 8.


The eighth-grade students are part of the Southern New Mexico Science, Engineering, Math and Aerospace Academy and are participating in the field trip to learn about sustainability and alternative energies. They will be attending three hour-long workshops while on campus, starting at 9:45 a.m. and ending at 1:30 p.m.

One of the workshops will be a tour and demonstration of the Solar Furnace, located by Anderson Hall. The furnace uses mirrors to focus sunlight into a beam three to four inches in diameter. This beam can melt steel in a matter of seconds, as well as cinder blocks. Students will be able to observe this during the workshop from the safety of a small building.

Another workshop will be held at the NASA SEMAA Lab, located in the Foreman Engineering Complex. The students will learn about wind energy by building miniature turbine blades and then testing them, calculating how much power the turbine is generating.

"We are trying to introduce this technology to students and get them excited about it. Both wind and solar powers are big in New Mexico," said Laura Tomlinson, SNM SEMAA assistant project director.

The students also will visit the recycling center on campus, where they will see the recycling process and understand the importance of taking care of the resources they have.

For more information about the field trip, contact Tomlinson at (575) 646-2991.

Broadcast Advisory: During their visit, 60 middle school students will receive a tour and demonstration of NMSU's Solar Furnace, which produces a light beam strong enough to melt through steel in a matter of seconds. The students also will build and test their own turbine blades and tour the recycling center on campus as part of the field trip, which has a sustainability and alternative energies theme.