Hands-On Learning

Jake Kuss, Shared Power executive director and co-founder, demonstrates how the GEM receives solar energy and supplies power to a fan.

2 area teachers will be using an innovative new gadget to teach their students, URE members, and the community at large about solar energy, thanks to funding from URE.

The Ohio Energy Project puts on annual e3 Smart training workshops for teachers at the Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives statewide office. The e3 Smart program is a science-based, standards-designed study of all things energy — where it comes from, how we use it in our daily lives, and how our own behaviors can benefit both the environment and our pocketbook.

Jake Kuss giving a speechOEP’s innovative school-to-home approach connects textbook science with real-world experiences. In the classroom, students learn all about energy science, efficiency principles, and conservation practices through hands-on labs and activities designed to promote teamwork, develop critical thinking, and spark curiosity for a lifetime of learning.

Students then put their knowledge to the test at home, teaching their families, peers, and communities about the importance of energy and its efficient use.

Last July, Tina Hall, a fifth-grade teacher at Fairbanks Elementary, and Jon Wing, a science teacher at Marysville Early College High School, attended the training session in Columbus, sponsored by URE. (since that training ended, the co-op has added sponsorship for a third teacher, Amanda Shroyer, who teaches at Raymond Elementary).

Area schools received Green Energy Machines in December thanks to funding from URE. Shown are science teacher Jon Wing and principal Jennifer Hinderer from Marysville Early College High School; Beau Michael, director, development and energy services at URE; Mark Lotycz, board trustee, District 2; Fairbanks Elementary teacher Tina Hall; Mike Aquillo, URE CXO/VP member services; and URE CEO/VP Anthony Smith.

At the training, Jake Kuss from the Shared Power Network demonstrated SPN’s Green Energy Machine, a mobile solar kit that helps teachers and students explore concepts like solar energy, sustainability, electricity and circuits, weather, and more. The machine comes with a 100-watt solar panel, a 12- volt battery, and a Bluetooth data-collection system, mounted to a utility cart.

Kuss raffled off a pair of the machines to teachers in attendance, and when neither of URE’s sponsored teachers won, URE director of communications Sue Gibson immediately turned to the co-op board, which graciously approved the purchase, with additional funding from Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives’ economic development program. The Green Energy Machines arrived at the schools just before Christmas.

“Thank you URE and OEC for providing the funding for the Green Energy Machine,” Wing says. “I am so excited to use this as a tangible teaching tool that will easily engage students in learning about solar energy. I know this will get so much use within our school, and we have high hopes to use it across the district.”

Teachers are continually designing authentic learning experiences. What an incredible opportunity to engage students in learning about renewable energy with a Green Energy Machine! Thank you URE and OEC for providing Fairbanks students and teachers with our own solar panel. With solar projects popping up in our own county, it will be beneficial for students to gain a working understanding of how solar power is harnessed and utilized.

– Tina Hall