Clean Energy Collaborations
The Clean Energy Institute recently had the opportunity to collaborate with a high school in Great Falls, Montana, to design a week-long clean and renewable energy unit for 9th and 10th grade students. This was a learning experience for all involved, including our Clean Energy Graduate Fellows who participated in this virtual outreach event.
Beth Thomas and CEI’s Education & Training Fellows, Doris Hung and Mitchell Kaiser, designed a week-long lesson to introduce students to clean and renewable energy. The week began with students playing a game to explore the power mix of different countries. According to Thomas, “this simulation provided visual awareness of how non-renewable resources become depleted and the renewable sources continue to provide energy.”
Next, students explored solar energy by experimenting with the CEI SunDawg kits. Using miniature solar cars, students investigated how the angle and color of light affects the performance of solar cells, and the way cell performance can be enhanced by the addition of a solar concentrator. Thomas said her “9th grade students LOVED experimenting with the solar cars, despite it seeming like a simple experiment. They were able to observe variables which affect the efficiency of the solar car and make connections to solar energy.” Students also read CEI science articles to learn about modern research for solar energy, energy storage, and energy grids to prepare for virtual talks from CEI fellows. To wrap up the week, other CEI Graduate Fellows virtually presented their STEM research, discussed pathways to science, and shared different STEM career options with each class.
Over the course of the school day, these “meet-a-scientist” talks were given by Yuhuan Meng, Diwash Dhakal, Yifei He, Micaela Homer, Ricardo Rivera-Maldonado, Madeleine Breshears, Doris Hung, and Miguel Gonzales. Doris Hung, a graduate student in the department of mechanical engineering and a member of Professor Corie Cobb’s lab, shared her work on 3D Batteries for Next-generation High-Energy-and-Power Storage. Reflecting on the experience, Hung commented “It was a great experience sharing my research with the students and learning what questions they have for batteries and PhD life in general. I also learned a lot from Beth just by watching her guiding the class through the SunDawg activity – she uses a very student-centered approach and it was nothing like the lectures I used to have when I was in highschool”.
Another speaker, Miguel Gonzalez, discussed marine-hydrokinetic turbines. “As we turn to nature for sustainable energy sources, such as the wind and the sun, marine energy often gets overlooked. It was an absolute joy to get to share the possibilities of this wonderful resource to such a young crowd. It is beyond important for coming generations to understand not only the importance of clean energy, but also to know there is room for them to engage in these efforts both inside and outside of academia” Gonzalez commented. As Thomas noted after the event, “It was so incredibly interesting to hear about the variety of fields of research and the sometimes unorthodox path, the CEI fellows took to find their niche at CEI. It was beneficial for students to see that scientists are people!”
We would love to collaborate with you to inspire your students with the possibility of clean energy research. To learn more, please sign up for a Clean Energy Ambassador visit or a class set of Sundawg Kits for your students.