One of the most exciting developments on the educational scene is a movement that celebrates tinkering, creativity, and the do-it-yourself nature of so many artists and inventors of the past: “Making”!
Inspired by Dale Dougherty’s Make Magazine, a quarterly DIY (Do It Yourself) publication launched in 2005, and the Maker Faire, a celebration of invention and creativity first held in the Silicon Valley community of San Mateo in 2006, (a must see), the Maker movement has spread to include of thousands of enthusiasts of all ages. The events, too, have grown in number and geographic distribution across the globe to include mini-Maker Faires held in city as far afield as Barcelona, Oslo, and Jerusalem.
So, where’s the connection between “Making” and the NEED Project? One of NEED’s star teachers, Aaron Vanderwerff at the Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland, CA, recently received a $10,000 Bright Ideas grant from NEED partner Pacific Gas and Electric. Aaron and his teaching team are Makers: they encourage their students to learn in a hands-on way. Students work with in a variety of media, fabrics, electronics, machines and gears and repurposed parts, to create new items, most of which integrate some form of energy science. Projects are open-ended, inquiry-based and interest-based and really put the learners at the center of the action.
Aaron’s grant funds will support completion of a project a team of students started last year: converting a light truck to battery electric power. The team is well aware that transportation technologies are changing and they want to be a part of it. To be successful, they’ve learned about electricity, energy storage, and how to properly match motor to battery supply and all the components in between. What’s more, they’ve learned to sketch their ideas, to make prototypes, how to weld and use the correct types of parts- all of these skills being critical to many careers in the energy industry AND skills common to being a Maker. Another NEED-like feature you’ll find at Aaron’s school and others like it is that students do presentations to one another and to the public; a “Kids Teaching Kids” approach that we all know works.
Makerspace High Schools:
Educators, especially in those engaged in STEM programs, increasingly recognize the value of hands-on activities and in scientific inquiry, and in cooperative learning. Even DARPA supports these efforts. This Department of Defense agency provided initial funding to O’Reilly Media (now Maker Media, Inc.), publisher of Make Magazine, to establish “Makerspaces” (centers for DIY activities) in up to 1000 high schools across the nation. Aaron’s school, Lighthouse Community Charter School, is one of the first of these schools.
The Makerspace movement is working with teachers to develop what will eventually be hundreds of kid-tested projects that will be made available to anyone who wishes to use them. These will be integrated and correlated to content standards. Sound familiar?
- Hands-on, inquiry based, engaging activities with a strong STEM connection;
- Teacher-created and teacher-tested;
- Supportive of cooperative learning, teamwork; “Kids Teaching Kids”;
- Materials are freely available to all who wish to use them;
- An eye toward sustainability, demonstrated, for example, by the number of alternative transportation designs present at Maker Faires, and a common desire by makers to repurpose and recycle parts and materials.
- Finally, both organizations embrace and support a community of highly dedicated teachers, students and others working together to make a difference in the future.
To learn more about Make Magazine, attending or presenting at Maker Faires, or becoming involved with the Makerspace in schools project, please visit these websites:
Save the Date: Maker Faire Bay Area
May 18 & 19, 2013
San Mateo County Events Center, CA
Save the Date: World Maker Faire New York
Sep. 21 & 22, 2013
New York Hall of Science, Queens, NY
Just before my eleventh birthday, I was given the Christmas Gift to Top All Christmas Gifts: A Schwinn Continental II ten-speed bicycle. I was so excited! Now I could ditch my one-speed with a banana seat and not be riding something so childish. My dad told me, “Take care of it, that’s the last bike you’re going to get.” I knew he wasn’t joking, and I took really good care of that bike. After all, it was very important to me! My bicycle meant freedom to go where I wanted (within reason) without parents having to drive me everywhere. I kept that bike all through college, selling it just before my first daughter was born.
We’ve only been given one planet on which to live; it’s the last one we’re going to get. It just makes sense, then, to take good care of it. The earth is very important to us! It provides us everything we need to live, and logically we should want to do what we can to ensure it remains in good shape for future generations.
You may be wondering why an energy educator is writing about being environmentally conscientious. At NEED, we’re all about balance, presenting energy-related subjects in an unbiased way, and equipping students to think for themselves and make informed decisions. Energy efficiency and usage naturally lead to a discussion about the environmental effects of the energy choices we make, and at NEED, we have plenty of activities and curriculum units that can be used in classrooms, afterschool groups, and scouting troops to teach young people about the earth’s resources and using them wisely.
April 22 is Earth Day! Celebrate! Kids love to engage in activities that promote responsibility in the environment and NEED is a great place to look for resources you can use, whether it’s for a single day or an entire month. Younger students will enjoy activities from Building Buddies or All About Trash as they learn to conserve energy and reduce the amount of trash being thrown into landfills. If your time is limited, try America’s Most Wanted Energy Wasters from Energy Games and Icebreakers.
Older students can be engaged through Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage or either of our climate change curriculum guides, Exploring Climate Change or Understanding Climate Change. All three of these discuss the effects of using fossil fuels to meet our energy needs, and steps that can be taken to reduce the impact our energy use has on global climate change. The Wedge Challenge from Exploring Climate Change shows students that many options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions exist, and leads them through the decision-making process.
If you’re looking for activities that can be completed in a short amount of time, try the Climate Web from Exploring Climate Change, or This Week in Energy Conservation from Energy Games and Icebreakers.
Earth Day is situated within National Parks Week, April 20-26. Since 1872, when President Grant set aside 2.2 million acres that became the world’s first National Park – Yellowstone National Park – Americans have placed a high value on protecting the public lands that comprise the nearly 400 locations under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service (www.nps.gov). Federal land is rich with natural resources, including energy sources, and utilizing those resources has been a source of great discussion and controversy.
Our curriculum guide, Energy on Public Lands, can help you lead your students through a discussion of this topic. Packed with text, graphic organizers, and research activities, this unit will guide students through learning about public lands, management of the land, and utilization of its resources. The culminating activity is an exercise in developing a public use plan for a location near their school or home. Furthermore, teachers needing to meet English and Language Arts standards related to reading informational text, evaluation, analysis, and supporting a position with facts from the Common Core State Standards will find this unit helpful. If you’re looking for an activity that can be done on one day of National Parks Week, try Conservation for Our Nation from Energy Games and Icebreakers.
Lastly, there is no better time than Earth Day to get a School Energy Management Team established at school. Use the last few weeks of this school year to get your team started, measure current usage, and set goals for the next school. Then in the fall, your kids can jump right into monitoring energy usage and helping save energy, and money, within their school. Students who are involved in sharing responsibility for their building will begin to care about it more and the entire community will benefit. Furthermore, documenting the students’ activities and progress will give you all that is needed for a Youth Awards project. If you have questions about starting a team, send an e-mail to email@example.com and we’ll get you pointed in the right direction!
*Caryn Turrel’s text, Emily Hawbaker’s creative title!
A guest blog from Chelsea Harder, Hawaii Energy
What state has the most expensive electricity rates in the nation? You might have guessed it, Hawaii.
Hawaii is very unique in that it draws 79% of its electricity from oil…yikes! Collectively, the U.S. generates 2% of its electricity from oil (See Figures 1 and 2 below).
Figure 1: U.S. Electricity Generation
Figure 2: Hawaii Electricity Generation
As a result of this sourcing, Hawaii has the most expensive electricity rates in the nation. But the upside is that Hawaii has every renewable energy resource at its disposal. The state recognizes that the dependency on oil an unsustainable practice and is working to grow the use of renewable resources and reduce its energy consumption and increase efficiency. In fact, the state is so committed that our former Governor and the Department of Energy signed a memorandum called the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative in 2009 to meet 70% of Hawaii’s energy demand through conservation and clean energy sources by 2030 – 40% from renewable energy and 30% from energy efficiency. This will take time and a great amount of effort to make this systemic change. As part of this effort, Hawaii Energy is partnering with NEED to reach our future – our younger generations. This offering will educate teachers and provide them with curriculum and course materials to teach Energy literacy to their students!
Given that our mission is to educate on energy efficiency and conservation practices not only to adults but to our younger generations who will soon be leading this effort, NEED visits the Hawaiian Islands multiple times per year to aid teachers in this effort to reach their students. Within the months of November and February, The NEED Project held 5 workshops on the island of Oahu and educated 137 local teachers from the islands of Hawaii, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, and Oahu…and they’re still counting! The NEED Project will return to Hawaii for two more workshops in April 2013 on Hawaii Island and Oahu.
The workshops are informative, interactive, and provide tools to expand your curriculum with Energy Education – not to mention fun! The session is attended by Hawaii Energy representatives to educate teachers on the importance of energy efficiency and conservation as well as the current use of energy in the state and the positive changes we can make to better the current practices. Throughout the day, teachers are prompted to think critically and are given a plethora of information regarding energy use and processes across the country as well as state-specific information. Educators form small groups to learn about the different types of energy, its use, and how to be more energy efficient. In addition, there is a session for all participants run experiments with the energy kits that will be provided to them for their classroom activities with guidance from the NEED workshop facilitator and the opportunity to ask questions…all in one day!
The value in the partnerships of The NEED Project and Hawaii Energy is shown through the efforts and teachings of the educators to their students and the students’ interpretation of the energy application. Hawaii Energy and NEED are pleased to continue these efforts by also offering grants for Hawaii teachers and schools interested in promoting and teaching conservation and efficiency in their classroom or community. Applications are due April 15, apply today! Creating awareness in energy efficiency and conservation at a young age has a great potential to positively impact our use of energy and to help Hawaii reach the goal of 70% clean energy by 2030 and to greatly reduce the state’s dependency on oil. The intention is to make Hawaii a leader in smart energy use to create a platform for positive and systemic change! For more information about Hawaii Energy and NEED, visit http://hawaiienergy.need.org/.
Who says college basketball gets to have all of the fun with brackets? Vote for your favorite NEED Guides in the NEED Bracket and you could win a prize.
How It Works
- Fill out the NEED Bracket (available for download below).
- Every day, go to the NEED Facebook page and comment on our status to vote for one of the competing guides. Every vote counts! The guide with the most votes wins and will move on to the next round.
- Here’s the schedule:
- And here is the point system:
- Voting will begin Monday, March 25, so please get your brackets in by 8 am. Monday, March 25 to be entered to win the grand prize!
- Check NEED’s Facebook page every day for point updates, voting, and more.
- The person with the most points at the end wins.
What are you waiting?! Fill out your NEED Bracket today!
NEED Bracket JPEG
Everyone did so well helping us find Lucky the Leprechaun that we’ve now hidden 5 Easter Eggs throughout our website. If you’re the first to find ALL 5 eggs, you’ll receive an Experiment Set. Then, the next five winners will receive a free water bottle.
Everyday at lunchtime (Eastern Standard Time) we’ll be posting a clue on our Facebook page.
If you’ve found the Easter Eggs, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org!