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This weekend I had an opportunity to attend a renewable energy workshop organized by the Southeastern Massachusetts Achievement and Retention in Technology group at Bristol Community College. The morning was packed with teachers sharing their lesson and unit ideas on ideas based around the STEM subjects of green technologies and energy.

The college offers a Lending Lab for tools and lab equipment that most schools are unlikely to stock. Through using these equipment resources, teachers can get their students’ hands onto enough materials to for a series of lessons on windmill design, hydrogen cars, air purity testing, and more. Teachers shared their experiences in bringing this equipment into their classes and how it affected student learning.

The NEED Project was a new one to me, focusing on bringing the ideas of energy systems to the classroom. Their site has an extensive collection of materials organized by grade level that are ready to implement in the classroom, from background information to student handouts. Chuck Lawrence of Upper Cape Regional Technical High School shared his experiences of having his students evaluate the energy use of educational spaces in the school, and has encouraged his students to help their families understand their use of energy from environmental and financial perspectives.
Kidwind is a site that helps people understand the techniques and effects of wind on energy generation. The site has resources for teachers, students, hobbyists and wind industry professionals interested in learning about the theory and application of wind power. Nolan Leroy talked about and showed some results from a workshop done with materials form the Lending Lab that helped him get students engaged in designing wind turbine blades for the greatest efficiency.

Hydrogen has been touted as an answer to our energy needs for quite some time, and Sue Mauretti Black of Durfee High School in Fall River shared her insight from using the loaner hydrogen fuel cell car kits to get her students working with electric drive, solar power and hydrogen energy storage.

Teachers Domain is an educational resource provided by WGBH Boston. Carolyn Jacobs gave a hands-on presentation explaining and demonstrating the possibilities. On the site, which is accessible by teachers and their students, users can find curriculum resources, especially multimedia from many PBS shows, about half of which are produced at WGBH. The resources are mapped by curriculum area and grade range. When you make a free account on the system, you give your zip code, which then helps to map resources to the frameworks of your home state. I found it especially helpful to gather video clips and organize them into folders by courses where the concepts match up. Since students can also make their own accounts, they can go in and gather up the videos and other materials that will help them understand the concepts in your class. Much of the video is free for educational download, and the clips are generally between 1 and 8 minutes long in a range of subjects.

Where are you getting great curriculum resources? What are some examples of incredible lessons that help the students in your maker classroom learn important concepts while making meaningful products? Are there teacher training workshops or conferences that you have been to or are planning on returning to? Let us know in the comments.

Chris Connors

Making things is the best way to learn about our world.


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