Mari Joe Owens, upper Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy guide, hands out morning donuts to her students as they hitch the Durango train to their destination - the Tacoma Hydro Plant. Owens and her students ride the railway on Friday, Oct. 4, about three miles from the community of Rockwood to the scenic banks of the Animas River where the hydro plant sits. The yearlong lesson she and the students are focusing on is the understanding of fossil fuels and what it takes to produce electricity.
Nathaniel H. and Camron H. smile at residents as they pass by. The remote location of the hydro plant means a train ride is the only way to gain access (or a very long hike).
Zechariah R. takes an early morning snapshot from the train’s open cart.
Hot chocolate in hand, students pose on the open cart as the train nears its stop.
Jawadin C. looks out into the Animas River as the group arrives at the Tacoma Hydro Plant, three miles outside of Rockwood, C.O.
John Ickus (left), aid of the Tacoma Hydro Plant, gives the students the grand tour. Built in 1906, the Tacoma Hydro Plant continues to generate electricity at 2,000 Kilowatts an hour (approximately 2,000 powered homes an hour). Water is the main source of power for the hydro plant. The town of Silverton, C.O. uses most of its electricity from here.
Jonas N. (left) warms up by a heat fan as the other students examine a generator unit. Two of the three units are fully functional as the third became damaged in an explosion.
Time to pull out the big tools. Ebonee G. is given a much larger-than-usual wrench to test her strength.
Hannah Land (center), educator from the Durango Discovery Museum, shares a laugh with students as they eat lunch by the Animas River. Land comes on the trip to help the children understand the working process of the hydro plant. She brings educational activities for the students.
The class searches for a nearby riverbank along the railway in order to experiment with water wheels.
Hannah Land aids students as they construct a water wheel with the items they have been given. The experiment is for the students to engineer their own water wheel using items ranging from CD disks, paper plates, Dixie cups, and plastic spoons. The water wheel must have an operable axle while placed in the water.
Randy H. works on a propeller for his water wheel. He has fixed his propeller to a stone so the mechanism holds while submerged.
Marcus A. builds his propeller out of spoons and a CD disk. The big challenge is designing the water wheel with an axel so it can spin.
After an eventful experiment by the river, the students sit by the railway as they prepare for their two-mile hike in the San Juan National Forest.
Yvonne Phillips (rear), upper division guide, and Rowan G. keep up with the hiking group as they take big steps through the San Juan National Forest.
Reynelda M. takes a moment to rest and look over a water stream within the mountains.
As the hiking trip ends, SUIMA students flash a smile as they gather themselves for the trip home.
The day concludes as the SUIMA students take the late afternoon train back to Durango.