OEP Conducts Energy Education Camps for K-12 Educators

October is National Energy Awareness Month, which serves to underscore how critical energy is to our prosperity, security, and environmental well-being. Throughout the month of October, TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs will highlight a variety of case studies and tips to promote energy conservation, resiliency, and smart energy management. Through these efforts, we rededicate ourselves to a more conscious use of energy, so that we can continue to strive for a cleaner, stronger, and more secure future.

Energy plays an important role in so many aspects of our lives, from heating and cooling homes, lighting classrooms, and powering computers, to fueling passenger vehicles and the various modes of transportation that deliver food and consumer goods. Yet in many K-12 schools, there typically isn’t a dedicated “energy class” that teaches students about topics like electric circuitry, energy efficiency and conservation, renewable energy resources, or different types of energy generation and alternative fuels. This is partially due to the fact that energy is an inherently interdisciplinary topic. Concepts fundamental to understanding energy arise in nearly all, if not all, academic disciplines. Because of this, teachers have the opportunity to incorporate energy awareness into their lesson plans in a variety of ways, taking creative approaches to spread energy literacy amongst their students.

Building a fuel cell car

Building a fuel cell car

This past June, TDEC OEP hosted two Energy Education Camps for K-12 educators at Montgomery Bell State Park and Pickwick Landing State Park. The camps, which drew a total of 100 educators from across the State, were comprised of five-day training sessions and activities. Information and resources were provided to teach the science of energy and energy conservation in the classroom.

The camps focused on ways to create real-world situations in the classroom and to collect and analyze data, in order to allow students and teachers to evaluate and improve their school’s energy usage. In addition, special breakout sessions were conducted with grade-level clusters to ensure that all participating teachers left the camps with ideas ready for their classrooms. One of these breakout sessions focused on plug loads and how to develop an action plan to stop wasting energy in the classroom, with the hope that schools can reprogram savings into school budgets for energy upgrades, classroom materials, or teachers’ salaries. Teachers participated in a hands-on activity to explore ways to save energy at school by investigating electricity consumption of common devices and determining ways to reduce it.

The camps also offered “team building” activities for teachers, such as energy bingo and the construction of solar ovens. Furthermore, campers received educational products to utilize in their lessons, including Electric Circuits Kitbooks, Kill-A-Watt meters, model fuel cell cars, and solar education kits.

Kitbook presentation

Kitbook presentation

The Electric Circuits Kitbook, a Tennessee-made educational product, merges the features of a hands-on science kit with those of a textbook in the form of a single self-contained tool. With the Kitbook, students are able to study electricity and simple circuits by testing what they learn in each lesson on an actual circuit board, built into the book. At this year’s Energy Education Camps, the creators of the KitBook gave a presentation to demonstrate how the KitBook is intended to be used and how the tool can be incorporated into lesson plans.

PY 2016 – 2017 Energy Camp/Workshop Activities

From October 2016 – September 2017, OEP plans to conduct two Energy Camps and six Energy Camp Workshops. Energy Camps will be comprised of three-day training sessions and activities and will be offered free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Energy Camp workshops will be comprised of one-day or half-day training sessions and activities and will be offered free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. As dates and locations are finalized, they will be posted to OEP’s website here: http://tn.gov/environment/article/energy-teen-energy-camps-workshops.

For more information on 2016-2017 Energy Camps and Workshops, please contact Angela McGee at angela.mcgee@tn.gov or 615-532-7816.