ERPForty-six science and technology teachers from Central and Eastern North Carolina recently participated in the professional development program Exploring the Future of Electricity, offered by the Institute for the Environment’s Environmental Resource Program (ERP). The program, led by ERP’s K-12 Science Education Manager Dana Haine, is designed to foster learning about the alternative energy sources and emerging technologies that will be needed to meet electricity demand in the 21st century.

“I regularly hear from NC science teachers about their need for instructional materials that enable them to bring current energy science into the classroom,” says Kathleen Gray, director of the ERP program. “Dana’s workshops not only meet this need but also her standards of excellence in teaching have been recognized by invitations to present this work nationally.”

Teachers gained ideas for enhancing the energy literacy of students and received inquiry-based instructional materials aligned with the NC Essential Standards along with classroom supplies. For example, workshop participants played the US EPA’s Generate! game, an interactive board game that promotes critical thinking about the electric grid by enabling players to explore energy choices, corresponding capital and operating costs, CO2 emissions, and water use. (Pictured above.)

“Part of what was brilliant today was to see how difficult it is to balance all of the factors in looking at energy options,” says a 2016 workshop participant.

To date, over 800 teachers have participated in energy-related teacher professional development workshops facilitated by Haine.

North Carolina released new science standards in 2012 which included standards related to the teaching of energy and according to Haine, “teachers are hungry for up-to-date content, instructional resources and hands-on activities to address these standards.”

Haine seeks to motivate teachers from all science disciplines to integrate energy into their science curriculum. She will present “Strategies for integrating renewable energy technologies into life science instruction” at the National Energy Education Summit in Washington, D.C., in June 2016.

Exploring the Future of Electricity workshops are made possible through funding from the Duke Energy Foundation.

The Environmental Resource Program works to promote an energy literate society by providing K-12 teachers with access to current scientific information and relevant resources.

For more information about ERP’s energy-related teacher professional development opportunities contact Dana Haine at dhaine@unc.edu or (919) 843-5735.

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