QUEENSBURY -- It takes a classroom of high school students to create a village — a small-scale one that powers a lighthouse, raises bridges and lights up the town.
“We’re hoping to use the wind energy from the windmill to power the entire thing,” said 16-year-old Dajsia Davis of Hudson Falls.
Wind power, in this case, will be a large electric fan that will turn the windmill and make the village run.
Davis is among a group of 18 students from the Hudson Falls, Queensbury and Saratoga Springs districts who are participating in the first year of the Early College High School program at SUNY Adirondack. The initiative is a partnership between the college and the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES.
Students spend their mornings at SUNY Adirondack and take the rest of the classes in the afternoon at their home school. They can simultaneously earn high school and up to a year’s college credit and can even earn industry certifications.
“This will allow our students to continue on to an associate’s (degree) right after they finish this program,” said WSWHE BOCES Superintendent James Dexter.
On Tuesday, the students were tinkering with their village project. The class is divided into groups working separately on the windmill, lighthouse and boat.
Instructor Gage Simpson said the students will receive grades based on their own individual piece and how the whole thing fits together, according to Simpson.
Students cannot start building right away, according to Simpson. They need to have their plans approved — just like in the real world.
“No trial and error. I want them to know exactly what they’re building before they start to build.”
Saratoga Springs student Ron Deutsch, 16, was part of the group finishing up the plans for the bridge.
“We’re kind of making it like a drawbridge,” he said. “It has to allow a boat that is 8-inches go under,” he said.
Other students were figuring out a way to modify a hand crank to become the windmill for the project. They were going to put that device on a pole on the windmill, according to student Tim Warrington.
In the lighthouse group, Saratoga Springs student Kathryn Hodge said they originally planned to have 32 LED bulbs in the lighthouse, but it was way too bright. They need only half that number.
The whole top of the lighthouse will be made of Saran Wrap to seem like the lighthouse has windows, according to Hodge.
“We’re really excited about it. It’s a really cool project,” she said.
Hodge said she wanted to take the class because she wants to be a biomedical engineer and find cures for diseases.
BOCES officials say the college is partnering with local companies including GlobalFoundries, Momentive and Irving Tissue on potential internships for these students. They are trying to line up more business partnerships.
The internships interest Hudson Falls junior Megan Sheehy.
“I personally want to do chemical engineering,” she said.
The program prepares people for jobs, said Kim Wagner, director of curriculum and differentiated instruction for BOCES.
“It helps close the skills gap, where employers don’t have workers to fill the jobs they have open,” she said.
Dexter said the goal is to have different pathways to graduation for students of different ability levels. Some people are more interested in career and technical education.
The partnership received a $400,000 Pathways in Technology Early College High School grant, which Dexter said would be used to expand into the lower grades starting in the 2014-2015 year.
“It will allow us to push down some of our curriculum to freshmen and sophomores,” he said.
The details of the program for underclassmen are still being developed.
Sixteen-year-old Sloan Anderson of Queensbury said he is challenged by the classes, which was something that was not happening at school last year.
“I almost failed two or three classes last year, because I just did not want to work,” he said.
Antonio Montes, 16, of Saratoga Springs said he wanted to take the class for the college credits. He also likes the hands-on nature of the course.
“It was better than sitting in classes and having some teacher blab at you all day long,” he said.