Solar Oregon Efforts to Support Hands-On Energy Education

Development of the Curriculum

Solar Oregon began a discussion with educators and community members in 2010 to revamp the existing Solar Oregon K-12 curriculum. We constructed a professional learning community of teachers from multiple grade levels, professors, solar professionals and community members as well as observed in science classrooms and conducted teacher surveys. We repeatedly found a need for an up-to-date renewable energy curriculum with a high level of built-in teacher support. Teachers told us that they needed lessons that could be quickly and easily accessed, used as a unit or individually, and adaptable to multiple grade and literacy levels. They also wanted hands-on labs focused on the inquiry process and engineering design.

Using the suggestions we gathered, we modified the Solar Oregon curriculum into a set of inquiry labs and engineering projects with multiple supporting lessons for each.¬† The lessons meet current Oregon State Science Standards, which lay out what each child is expected to be taught by grade level. If you’re a teacher interesting is access this curriculum, please contact us.

Support in the Classroom

Between 2011 and 2013 Solar Oregon partnered with 4-H, the OSU Extension Service, and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) to have the lessons taught using a mentor model in elementary schools in parts of Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties.¬† With the model, Solar Oregon’s curriculum specialist and two to three Solar Oregon volunteers teach the curriculum with the classroom teacher. The Solar Oregon staff also provides training, and help with needed supplies and background information for the teacher.

Currently in Oregon, BEF’s Solar 4R SchoolsTM¬†program leads the efforts to support comprehensive K-12 renewable STEM education. In partnership with BEF, Solar Oregon provides professionals working in the field to go into the classroom and support renewable and solar energy education after initial teacher training.