Sustainable Energy Summer Institutes Prepare Indiana STEM Teachers

Monday, July 22, 2019
Teachers perform experiments with solar cells during the Sustainable Energy Summer Institute

Visiting teachers built energy-producing miniature solar arrays and windmills as well as conducted home energy audits during this year’s Sustainable Energy Summer Institute, organized by the PRISM program.

Twenty Indiana school science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers learned about sustainable energy through an intensive “boot camp” experience provided through the institute’s Portal Resource for Indiana Science and Mathematics (PRISM) program. The on-campus sessions were supported by the Duke Energy Foundation and Rose-Hulman alumni Becky and Frank Levinson.

During the Sustainable Energy Summer Institute, teachers developed academic standards-based, practical and comprehensive lessons to help their students learn about sustainable energies. Teachers also received a kit of materials for lab activities, an Apple iPad mini 4 and access to the Moodle learning management system.

Participating teachers came from Bachelor Middle School, Bloomington; Brentwood Elementary School, Plainfield; Castle North Middle School, Newburgh; Clark Middle School, Vincennes; Decatur Central High School, Indianapolis; McLean Education Center, Terre Haute; New Haven High School, New Haven; North Miami Middle School, Denver; Riverside Intermediate School, Fishers; Riverton Parke High School, Montezuma; Sarah Scott Middle School and South Vigo High School, Terre Haute; Tippecanoe Valley Middle School, Akron; Tri-West High School, Lizton; Van Buren Elementary School, Brazil; West Side Leadership Academy, Gary; and West Vigo High School, West Terre Haute.

Rose-Hulman faculty members Andy Mech, emeritus professor of mechanical engineering, and Robert Bunch, professor of physics and optical engineering, provided instruction on the following topics: U.S. power grid, hydroelectric power, lighting and energy conservation, solar and wind energy, coal-fired power plants and natural gas combined-cycle power plants. These classroom sessions were supplemented by teachers completing hands-on projects, such as building energy-producing miniature windmills and solar arrays, and learning how to conduct home energy audits.

Then, field visits took teachers to view sustainable energy practices at the Indianapolis International Airport’s solar farm; MISO energy transmission management company and utility solar energy transmission system developer Telamon Inc., both in Carmel; a wind energy farm in Benton County; and utility power plants in Cayuga, Merom and West Terre Haute.

There were no costs for teachers to participate in the workshop. Rose-Hulman provided room and meals on campus. All participating teachers are planning to teach units on sustainable or alternative energies in the future.

Since late 2002, the PRISM program has provided interactive digital learning tools and professional development workshops for Indiana teachers in STEM areas. Learn more about PRISM.