In partnership with the Desert Research Institute’s (DRI) GreenPower program, Envirolution recently presented eight-hour professional development workshops in Reno and Las Vegas centered on our energy efficiency and solar energy curriculum. The first, held at the DRI campus in Reno, included 11 middle and high-school teachers across a wide swath of disciplines, from environmental science and math to English and visual arts. The teachers competed against one another to design the most effective solar oven, created short climate change PSAs, learned about contemporary issues in energy policy such as mountaintop removal and tar sands oil, investigated the effectiveness of insulation, and experimented with solar cells.
At the DRI campus in Las Vegas we piloted a new format for professional development: teachers and their students working together in collaboration. Three high school teachers and six local students from Canyon Springs High School began the day by envisioning themselves as the sole survivors of a zombie apocalypse, with the task of redesigning energy consuming building systems using recycled, repurposed, or natural materials and fossil fuel alternatives. After successfully proving that they are, in fact, capable of rebuilding civilization, the teachers and students spent the rest of the day investigating how well insulation works in cooling climates, using Kill-A-Watts to search the DRI campus for energy hogs, and learning about the social, environmental, and economic benefits of energy efficiency. The teacher/student mix provided us with a whole new perspective on the delivery of our workshops, and it was worth the effort to see students taking a lead role in helping teachers conduct an experiment.
At the end of these workshops here’s some of the feedback that we received:
“It was an excellent balance of hands-on and information – I never got bored!”
“This was so fun as well as educational.”
“This really opened up my eyes to energy efficiency and conservation. I will definitely implement this information in my home!”
“This was a very awesome experience for me.” (Student feedback)
And finally, “Please keep doing what you’re doing.”