Solar and Wind Ed Opportunities for Educators in NY State
Submitted by Arianna Collins
The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) is pleased to announce the commencement of a new energy education project, Solar Sails New York, sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) through a two year service contract. Educators working in New York State will have the opportunity to attend free professional development workshops on solar and wind energy education, receive free energy education kits for their classroom, center, or institution, and complimentary accompanying curricular units.
Over the past 5 years, NYSERDA’s School Power….Naturally program has focused on educating students in grades 5-12 about the importance of renewable energy and the role solar electric power can play in providing clean electricity to homes, schools and workplaces. Fifty schools across the State are hosting a 2kW photovoltaic (PV) system that includes software to link data from the PV system to class room instruction. Students are not only learning how a 2kW PV can meet 25-30% of the energy needs of a typical home, but why it is an important option for producing clean, reliable and inexhaustible energy. The educational materials address New York State Math, Science, and Technology curriculum standards so that all teachers across New York can bring this unique, multi-disciplinary educational experience into the classroom. Successful efforts by the School Power...Naturally program have led to a growing interest and enthusiasm among educators, students and parents to not only learn more about solar energy, but the entire renewable energy industry.
Under the new School Power…Naturally program, $1.2 million was available for projects to upgrade the current program to include teaching tools for wind energy along with the development of data resources, expanded marketing and outreach to teacher and school districts, maintenance for installed PV systems, and general outreach and awareness. By exposing students to the intricacies of a renewable electric system as well as live performance data, long-term interest in clean energy technology can be fostered to sustain demand for the ‘green collar’ jobs necessary for continued growth within the industry.
NESEA staff express their excitement in working with NYSERDA again under the School Power…Naturally program, “A few years ago, NESEA developed A Solar Kit for the Classroom curricular unit. This new contract will extend our ability to reach out to New York educators in a more meaningful way”, states Arianna Collins, Education Director at NESEA. “NESEA units will align with New York State Standards and will be downloadable. We will provide hands-on instruction with kit use, and we will demonstrate how to integrate energy education into existing scholastic programming. We want this to work for the teachers; that it is not another add-on.
Collins goes on to say, “Hands-on, placed-based education secures a context for learning and it is our hope that through exploring renewable energy and its applications we inspire teachers to empower the next generation of pro-active, responsible citizens, who will move forward with dignity as they face the coming environmental and economic challenges.” Robert G. Callender, NYSERDA Vice President for programs, concurs, “Providing teachers with the proper tools to educate our future generations about energy has never been as paramount as it is today.” Callender further states, “Building upon the success of NYSERDA’s School Power…Naturally program, our program partners will give students a hands-on experience about the importance of energy efficiency and renewable energy and how together, they can help lead our state towards energy independence.”
For more information on the Solar Sails New York project and how to register for a workshop in your area, please contact NESEA at 413-774-6051 or email Arianna Collins (see above)