Clackamas County students get an education in energy
By Drew Dakessian, Sustainable Business Oregon
Carus Elementary student Emma Masock participates in an activity from Clackamas County's new Youth Energy Education program.
Students in Clackamas County are seeing the light, thanks to the new Youth Energy Education program implemented this past school year.
The team-oriented, 13-hour classroom curriculum is designed to provide students with a solid foundation in engineering, math, science, and technology. It includes student-led projects such as measuring household energy use, designing and building solar cars and batteries, and testing insulation materials.
Such activities relate directly to real-world energy issues.
“We are facing this clean energy crisis,” said Emily Krafft, an AmeriCorps volunteer and outreach coordinator with Solar Oregon, a non-profit organization providing Oregonians with outreach and education on solar technology and its applications. “And we’re needing to prepare a new generation to really address those issues.”
The program was designed for students in grades 3 through 6.
“We really want to prepare the next generation to have those solid engineering and science skills beginning at the elementary school level,” said Krafft, “so that by the time they’re adults, this becomes sort of mainstream knowledge.”
So far, the Youth Energy Education program has reached 342 students in Clackamas County, but Anderson said Solar Oregon is looking to expand the program to more schools in the tri-county area.
“Eventually, we would like to introduce the curriculum throughout Oregon,” she added.
The Youth Energy Education program is based on new science and engineering benchmarks set by the state. It was developed through a professional learning committee that included SolarOregon, 4H Youth Development, several middle school science teachers and school board and community members who meet biweekly or weekly for up to eight months. The program is supported by grants from the Juan Young Trust and PGE, and sponsorships from Solar Oregon professional members.
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