Nearly 260 educators from across Alabama and northwest Florida became the students for a week at the Empower Energy Education Workshop in June. Twelve educators in the Clarke-Washington EMC area were able to attend Empower and become empowered about energy education.
“I had no idea that this workshop would be as ‘empowering’ as it was,” says Dr. Edna Billingsley, school administrator at McIntosh Elementary. “This workshop empowered me to learn many aspects about energy that I had not really thought of before. I was in awe over so many things that I think, we, as educators and the general public are not aware of.”
The workshop started in 2017 as a way for PowerSouth and its member systems, such as Clarke-Washington EMC, to promote a balanced approach to energy education in the classroom. PowerSouth partnered with the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED) to empower teachers and provide them with the tools to educate students about the electric industry. The resources meet students’ diverse needs and learning styles and are based on Alabama and Florida standards.
Taylor Matheson, 8th grade science teacher at Thomasville, says that walking through each of the activities as a student was the most beneficial
thing about the workshop. “I feel that this helped me to troubleshoot while doing the activities, and also see how I would apply and modify them to my classroom,” says Matheson.
Matheson expressed how she teaches energy and electricity as two different units and these activities would squeeze in between the two. She feels these activities will reinforce energy and energy conservation,but would be a great springboard into her unit about electricity.
During the workshop, teachers participated in many hands-on activities and breakout sessions. Two of the most popular breakout sessions among the teachers were the Energy Escape Room and Energy House. Teachers were shown ways they could easily transform their classroom to an escape room with any unit. They were split into groups and had to solve clues and puzzles about energy to get to the next step. Jackson Middle School 7th grade science teacher Will Powell thought this activity would be something high on the fun scale for students and very adaptable to any content.
“A close second favorite was building the energy house – because it is a multi-day, cross curriculum activity,” says Powell. Matheson agreed; it included content standards, as well as engineering standards, that she incorporates into her classroom. She liked how it would also encourage creativity and communication between students.
Attendees received the tools and curriculum necessary to integrate the activities into their classroom. These materials, aimed at K-12 students, include hands-on activities designed to teach tomorrow’s leaders about all energy sources- from fossil fuels to renewables. After the workshop, teachers are able to enter the classroom ready to empower their students. “After attending the Empower workshop,I have a better understanding about energy and how it works in so many different ways. I have gained a wealth of knowledge from the hands on activities and resources that were taught and given in the workshop,” says Thomasville Elementary teacher Colleen Daniels.
The conference also provided attendees an opportunity to network with other teachers, sharing ideas and building lifelong connections.
“The networking was great – I met so many great educators! However, I learned so much about energy and energy conservation that I did not know before and I feel so much more knowledgeable now,” says Betsy Turner, 2nd grade teacher at Fruitdale. “We were taught in the same manner that we will teach our students – hands on – and that was great!”
Clarke-Washington EMC believes it is important to provide future generations with a full understanding of the electric system and how it was built. Clarke-Washington EMC looks forward to continuing to make a difference in energy education.
If you would like to learn more about Empower 2020, please contact Sarah Hansen at Clarke-Washington EMC at 251.246.9081 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.