Pennsylvania schools sought to participate in Wind for Schools program

University Park, Pa. -- The Wind Application Center at Penn State is now accepting applications for Pennsylvania's new Wind for Schools project. The program aims to engage rural elementary and secondary school teachers and students in wind energy education while educating college students about wind energy applications.

Wind for Schools will work with selected host schools in Pennsylvania to install a small wind turbine (2.4kW) to provide students in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with a concrete example of how wind energy works, while allowing for educational opportunities using state-of-the-art technology.

"This program is an excellent opportunity for Pennsylvania educators to provide exciting and relevant renewable energy education in their curriculum. Utilizing the excitement of installing a wind turbine, students can learn important skills necessary for the 21st century," said Leah Bug, assistant director of the Center for Science and the Schools (CSATS) in Penn State's College of Education. CSATS is providing educational support for the program.

Along with Dina Taucher -- a high school teacher working with Agora Cyber Charter School and a Pennsylvania Wind Senator from Annville -- CSATS will coordinate and provide teacher professional development, assisting teachers with the implementation of the hands-on wind curricula and bringing wind energy education into the classroom through interactive wind-related activities.

Taucher said, "Classroom inquiries of wind energy science, challenges, and benefits are powerful vehicles to expose students to 'difficult-to-hold-onto' concepts like energy conversion and transfer, electricity generation and our energy future."

Wind for Schools at Penn State is led by Susan Stewart, research associate in aerospace engineering and architectural engineering, as well as Bug and Kim McManus, Cambria County extension director. In addition to Taucher, other committee members include George Lesieutre and Dennis McLaughlin, both Penn State professors of aerospace engineering, and Kevin Abbey and Jay Schenck of PennTAP.

"The beautiful part of the program is that we get to engage students across K-12 and at the University in wind energy education," Stewart said. "The University students will participate by conducting the wind feasibility studies as well as assisting with the data acquisition set up and maintenance."

Curriculum will be customized, based upon the needs of each school. KidWind, National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project and The Power of the Wind 4-H curricula provide activities that will be utilized in the classroom.

A goal of the Wind for Schools program is to work with three-to-five schools per year to conduct feasibility studies and to help develop funding for, and ultimately install, small wind turbines that will support curricular wind energy activities in the schools. Students in Penn State's College of Engineering and College of Earth and Mineral Sciences will assist with the preliminary siting studies as well as with the installation of the turbines as a part of existing courses.

The Wind for Schools program led by Penn State was selected for funding and technical support by the Department of Energy (DOE) in 2010 to develop wind energy educational programs for the state of Pennsylvania. The national Wind for Schools project, a part of the DOE Wind Powering America outreach and education initiative, supports wind energy education programs at universities as well as primary and secondary schools.

Wind for Schools projects currently are supported in 11 states (Alaska, Ariz., Colo., Idaho, Kan., Mont., N.C., Neb., Pa., S.D. and Va.). The program started in Colorado in 2005. By targeting students, the activities selected to be funded address a major challenge for the wind energy industry as identified in DOE’s "20% Wind Energy by 2030" report -- the need for a skilled workforce to support the expanded development and application of wind technologies.

The deadline to submit applications for this pilot Pennsylvania program is Tuesday, March 1. The application is available online at http://www.wind.psu.edu/wfs.

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Last Updated March 21, 2011