Kingswood students learn about practical uses of science

AEROSPACE ENGINEER and Kingswood parent Ray Miller shared how he turns vegetable oil into biodiesel fuel for his F350 pickup truck with science students gathered in the lecture hall for the first of 15 talks scheduled for Science Week, April 21-25 at KIngswood Regional High School. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
April 24, 2014
WOLFEBORO — Science Week at Kingswood Regional High School began with a presentation by Ray Miller, an aerospace engineer and tactical data links engineer at Hanscom Air Force Base and father of two sons attending the high school. Miller turns vegetable oil into diesel fuel for his F350 pickup truck as a means to cut down costs of his commute, but also as an enjoyable and sometimes challenging scientific process.

He shared the process, from finding a free source for the used oil, which is becoming more difficult as it is now recognized as an alternative energy source, to arriving at the finished product and then observing and tweaking the fuel's efficiency under different weather conditions as he drives to work.

Over the course of his career with the U.S. Air Force – he is now retired and working as a project manager – courses in software languages from the early days on and "lots of math," calculus, linear algebra, solving partial differential equations, have provided the groundwork for his career.

Wolfeboro Firefighter, Lt. Frank Bellefleur, also a father of students in the district, took a turn later in the morning with another group of science students, to talk about fire science. They learned about burning temperatures of fuel and the flashpoints of the household contents, with a strong message of how fast fire spreads and the imperative that one needs to vacate the premises as fast as possible.

Bellefleur demonstrated the rescue side of his work with students taking part. Moving injured people to safety sometimes involves pulleys for leverage. Working in smoke filled rooms requires that firefighters strap on 60 – 70 pounds of gear, including a breathing apparatus to increase the amount of oxygen needed to keep functioning.

Other presenters in the lineup during the week included: veterinarian Jennette Wainscott; Physician Assistant Elizabeth Bean on the artistic and scientific aspects of medical practice; Alex Dria on science and medicine: custodian Phil Custeau on the school's geothermal system; John Miller on brain anatomy and concussions; physics professor Eberhard Mobius of the UNH Experimental Space Plasma Group on astronomy; Glenn Miller, professor of organic chemistry; Dr. Bill Barton offering insights into medicine: GWRSD School Board member and dentist Dr. James Manning; Olof Echt, speaking on thermal physics; Kingswood alumnus and graduate science student Chris Mancuso; and limnologist Don Kretchmer on the fish and biology of our lakes.

Science teachers organized the week's events, which gave students the opportunity to meet scientists working in a variety of fields and ask questions.

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