Summer is a busy time for Peninsula School District employees and especially for the district’s teachers, who often attend several training sessions in preparation for the incoming year of students.
Science teachers from elementary, middle and high schools gathered at the Harbor History Museum on Friday to learn about new science curriculum and kits that they will be using in their classrooms during the current school year.
The program featured in the training session was Solar 4R Schools, a Bonneville Environmental Foundation Program (BEF), sponsored by Peninsula Light Company (PenLight), said Loren Willson, instruction facilitator for the district.
“The training will train teachers to teach students how to build simple solar powered machines and measure how much energy is generated,” Willson said. “We all recognize that we need to move away from fossil fuels and more environmentally friendly methods.”
Sponsoring the Solar 4R Schools is part of an ongoing partnership between PenLight, the Harbor History Museum, Bonneville Environmental Foundation and PSD, said Jim Bellamy, energy services coordinator for PenLight.
PenLight partnered with the Harbor History Museum in the Harbor Community Solar project to install solar panels on the museum’s roof in 2015, including providing classroom information to educate local students about the project and clean energy.
Electrical utilities have a lot of old people working for them. We need to have folks who are up to speed in devising and maintaining new forms of energy. To get teachers up to speed and be able to have the curriculum available ... elementary to high school, there will be the opportunity to be touched by this technology.
Jim Bellamy, energy services coordinator for Peninsula Light Company
“Electrical utilities have a lot of old people working for them. We need to have folks who are up to speed in devising and maintaining new forms of energy,” Bellamy said. “To get teachers up to speed and be able to have the curriculum available ... elementary to high school, there will be the opportunity to be touched by this technology.”
The training for the 15 PSD teachers was lead by Parker Mullins, BEF energy education program manager.
“All these materials align with renewable energy in some way,” Mullins said of the curriculum and kits the teachers were provided with. “We talk a lot about energy transformation.”
The curriculum and aligning kits are designed to suit students at every grade level — even meeting AP standards in high school classes — and are also designed to engage students with hands-on activities, opposed to sitting and listening to a lecture. Each teacher kit is valued at $15,000 and provides an inquiry-based science approach to engage students in learning about STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, Mathematics).
Kids have materials that they will be working with, and the teachers will primarily be a coach during the process. We have new science standards in the state that we need to be teaching to.
Loren Willson, instruction facilitator for PSD
“Kids have materials that they will be working with, and the teachers will primarily be a coach during the process,” Willson said. “We have new science standards in the state that we need to be teaching to. One part of those new standards is an engineering and design standard, (which this curriculum meets).”
In addition to the kits and curriculum, teachers will also have access to the BEF website, which features teacher-created lesson plans and more information to further engage students.
Funding from the program and curriculum in PSD comes from the partnership between PenLight and BEF — each organization contributed $50,000 to fund the program for the district, in the hopes that it be made sustainable by PSD in the future.
Speaking to the teachers assembled for the training, Bellamy highlighted the importance of future generations and the teachers who guide them in developing sustainable energy practices.
“We believe that the engineers and CEOs of our utility companies are going to come from our schools,” he said. “It’s your job to make sure that happens.”