Getting Out of the Classroom -- SPOKANE -- Responsibility means more to some students at Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC) than just showing up for class. Hundreds of students have ventured outside the classroom in a year-long project that gives students academic credit for volunteering in the community. This project is the culmination of a thematic year in which students have crossed disciplines to view several perspectives of an issue. The theme for this year's project is "Responsibility: Global, Civic and Personal."
"This is the first year we've done campus-wide service learning," says Heather Keast, SFCC composition instructor and theme coordinator. "It works on so many different levels. It helps the community agency. It helps the instructor, and it helps the students by getting a life experience they wouldn't normally get. Also, the students tend to become civically active by volunteering in college."
Some of the volunteer work students will participate in includes designing, planning and creating a green-belt buffer along the proposed North-South freeway; conducting and transcribing interviews for the East Central Community Center Oral History Project; working with the mentally challenged at the high school level; and interacting with residents in various assisted-living facilities. More volunteer projects are still being developed with the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) and the Geiger Field Correctional Institute.
SFCC's activities have also included voter registration, speakers, artists, films and a two-day teach-in.
Alternative Energy Buzz -- OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington state may revolutionize alternative energy production. The House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing what's known as "distributive generation," in which fuel cells turn hydrogen and oxygen into energy. The bill allows distributive generation to provide "uninterrupted power to state facilities."
"Our state has long been a leader in energy production, and we have an opportunity to maintain our leadership role by revolutionizing the development and distribution of power," says House Republican Leader Cathy McMorris.
The bill states that state agencies must consider distributive generation when planning construction of state-run facilities.
"It's a real confirmation of fuel cell technology," says Catherine Markson, communications manager at Avista Utilities. "We are supportive of this bill because it is supportive of alternative energy."
Fuel cells convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, the only byproducts being water, heat and "miniscule" amounts of carbon dioxide. The process utilizes external fuel sources, so it never requires recharging as long as fuel is supplied.
"The bill just recently passed, so we don't have anything on the horizon as far as state agencies," says Sandra Saathoff, marketing and communications coordinator for Avista Labs. "Generally, over the past couple of years, we've had several different senators in our facilities for a demo."
Markson is optimistic, adding that the bill "provides opportunity for ways to benefit our regional economy."
Perfecting Peer Pressure -- SPOKANE -- Can peer pressure be a good thing? Health experts and teen empowerment groups say teens should influence each other. To get this message out, the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) is sponsoring the fourth annual "A Day Away" peer education conference expected to draw about 200 local high school students Friday for a series of workshops and presentations.
The event's theme this year, "Empowering Ourselves by Helping Others," will show teens that they are in ideal positions to influence one other in positive ways.
"Research and experience clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of teens talking with their peers about health issues such as tobacco, suicide and violence prevention," says Kim Marie Thorburn, health officer for the SRHD. "Teens will listen to their peers before they'll listen to adults."
Twelve health fair booths will be set up for teens to visit. Local peer education groups will be present and health education experts from the SRHD, the greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council, Spokane Police Department, WSU and Planned Parenthood will facilitate workshops.
"This conference is important not only to motivate and recognize current peer educators, but to encourage others to get involved and make a difference in our community," Thorburn says. Call 324-1530