Tag Archives: renewable energy education

Nonprofit KidWind Project Launches 2019-20 KidWind Challenge

The KidWind Challenge is an event developed 6 years ago by the nonprofit and supporters to allow students to explore the power of wind by building and testing their own wind turbines. Over 10,000 have participated in KidWind Challenges all over the US.  Students can participate in two ways: at events and online.

Learn more at KidWind Challenge.Org.

Lego builds its way to 100% renewables – with its own pieces

Smart Energy International

The company’s transition was originally expected to be reached by 2022, but it became possible to complete the transition sooner, thanks to the completion of a 258MW offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea. Lego has 42 offices around the world, and remains a major influence in culture across generations. Read more here.

RE100: Lego became a member in May 2017. RE100 is a global corporate leadership initiative bringing together leading companies committed to 100% renewable electricity.

Lego Wind Turbine Kit Developed in Partnership With Vestas 

In 2018 Lego “released a fully-functional Lego wind turbine playset, “which allows budding engineers a chance to see the technology in effect, rather than theory.” The Lego bricks are made from a plant-based material sourced from sugarcane. Lego’s ultimate goal is to produce all their products and packaging with sustainable materials by 2030.

Also Of Potential Interest to Teachers

Lego is now on DonorsChoose.org, a non-profit organization that connects public school classrooms with the community to help fund student learning. Find out more about posting your classroom project to DonorsChoose.org and raising funds to benefit your classroom.

Lego’s List of Popular Educational Grant Providers

Nebraska Solar Schools Grant

Nebraska Solar Schools, a Nebraskans for Solar program, is offering 100 NEED Solar Energy Kits to up to 100 Nebraska public and non-public schools. The kits provide K-12 teachers a convenient and fun way to incorporate more solar energy education into their Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) programs.

Teacher and student curriculum guides are available for free download and review at the following links, as well as descriptions of each grade-level solar kit:

The Sun and Its Energy: Grades K-2
Wonders of the Sun: Grades 3-5
Energy from the Sun: Grades 6-8
Exploring Photovoltaics: Grades 9-12

Click here to learn more.

Central Community College’s $23M Kearney Center tops 2017 education news

By Mike Konz, Kearney Hub

KEARNEY — On Aug. 22, Central Community College began classes in its $23 million, 66,000-square-foot Kearney Center. The structure was completed without a bond issue using $10 million from a successful capital campaign and cash from CCC’s reserves. The new building didn’t tap taxpayers, and because of its design, the building someday won’t tap commercial power, as CCC leaders have deemed that the facility eventually will be energy self-sufficient. Click here to read the entire article, the third installment recapping top stories of 2017, as selected by Kearney Hub reporters and editors.

Photo: The skilled technology science wing of Central Community College’s new Kearney Center offers some of the most advanced manufacturing equipment to train students.
Credit: Kearney Hub


  • CCC recognized for going green, by Julie Blum, Columbus Telegram
    Visitors at the Columbus campus can see some of the efforts undertaken in recent years to reduce the carbon footprint there, such as hybrid cars, electric maintenance vehicles, a bike-sharing station, water bottle station, landscaping with native plants and recycling bins. Across other Central campuses, there are composting sites, bee colonies and solar panels, and the campus in Hastings [added] a 1.7-megawatt wind turbine.
  • Nebraska Colleges & Universities Leading on Sustainability & Climate Action

Nebraska Colleges & Universities Leading on Sustainability & Climate Action

Colleges and universities in the U.S. and around the world are setting examples of sustainable and carbon-reducing institutions. Nebraska’s colleges and universities are among these leaders, implementing energy conservation measures on their campuses, saving natural resources through comprehensive waste-reduction programs, installing wind (Central Community College and Northeast Community College) and solar energy systems (Creighton University, Doane College, Metro Community College and University of Nebraska-Lincoln), promoting green transportation to cut carbon emissions through shared bike programs and EV charging stations, offering courses on electric vehicles and wind and solar technologies and community forums to educate the general public, creating sustainability and climate action plans, taking part in opportunities abroad to help other communities be more sustainable—plus other measures. Below are links to just some of the sustainability and climate action initiatives, programs, action plans, sustainability reports and news stories about Nebraska’s colleges and universities.

If you know of others, please email them to Helen Deffenbacher at: nebraskansforsolar@gmail.com

Photo: UNL College of Engineering students participating in an opportunity provided by the university’s Education Abroad Program.

Central Community College’s 3C Initiative
Sustainability Leadership Presentation Series (SLPS) 
Signatory of the Climate Commitment
Signatory of the Sustainability Education & Economic Development (SEED) Initiative
Central Community College Wind Turbine is a Useful Source of Education, Bluestem Energy Solutions

College of St. Mary’s Climate Action Plan

Creighton University’s Climate Action Plan
Creighton Energy Club

Metro Community College’s 2015 Sustainability Annual Report

Northeast recognized for sustainability, workforce development efforts
Winds of Change: Northeast Community College on leading edge of wind industry’s robust growth
Northeast helps fuel economy through wind energy program, by Dr. Michael Chipps, Northeast Community College President, Norfolk Daily News

UNK makes move to solar energy with NPPD, SoCore agreement, KSNB Hastings
UNK will purchase more than half of the electricity from Nebraska’s largest solar farm in Kearney, Omaha World-Herald
Sustainability Master Plan

UNL Sustainability Initiatives
Extension Education – Biological Systems Engineering
Global Renewable Energy Education Network (GREEN) Program
Nebraska Wind for Schools Project
High Plains Regional Climate Center
Climate Masters of Nebraska – UNL

University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Sustainability Master Plan

University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine Sustainability Master Plan, 2014-2023

Department of Energy awards UNL nearly $1.5 million to set up and operate a regional Industrial Assessment Center

On December 14, 2016, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced nearly $35 million for 28 higher education institutions from 25 states across the country to set up and operate regional Industrial Assessment Centers (IACS). The centers will provide site-specific recommendations to small manufacturers with opportunities to improve productivity, secure information, reduce waste and save energy while providing training for undergraduate and graduate engineering students in manufacturing processes, energy assessment procedures, and energy management system.

To apply for an assessment, contact UNL’s IAC Program Director:
Dr. Robert Williams
Phone: (402) 472-4755
Email: rwilliams2@unl.edu

This post was last updated February 12, 2018.

Thank you from Nebraskans for Solar to Tim Dwight for last evening’s excellent presentation!

Tim Dwight
Photo: Tim Dwight, a former NFL and University of Iowa player, is president of the Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association. Credit: Benjamin Roberts, Iowa City Press-Citizen

Nebraskans for Solar (NFS) wishes to thank last evening’s November public forum speaker, Tim Dwight, for sharing his experience and expertise as President of both the Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association and Integrated Power Corporation, a company that develops solar energy projects for businesses and agricultural producers, primarily in Iowa and California.

Many thanks, too, to everyone who attended the event at UNO’s Community Engagement Center and to NFS board members Michael Shonka and Jared Friesen for, respectively, introducing Dwight and leading the Q&A session that followed his talk.

Tim Dwight frequently travels around Iowa and occasionally to other locales, educating people about solar energy and demonstrating how cost effective the technology is today. We are grateful that he included Omaha on his itinerary, and we hope he will return for another visit and discussion sometime in the near future.

In last night’s presentation, Dwight said that when he started in the industry in 2008, a solar module cost $4.00 a watt. Nowadays, you can purchase one for as little as 70 cents per watt.

Dwight attributes the growth and success of solar in Iowa and all across the country, in part, to this steep reduction in costs. Another contributing factor he highlighted in last night’s presentation is the state’s energy production tax credit. As President of Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association, he, along with other solar advocates, lobbied for the incentive. In 2012 the state legislature passed SF2340, the Iowa solar tax credit, and in 2014 voted into law 476C, which added solar to a wind production tax credit (PTC). Iowa’s PTC is 1.5 cents per KWh.

Dwight also talked about the jobs being created by the solar industry in his state and the significant numbers of dollars locally-developed projects are contributing to communities. There are currently forty installers in Iowa’s solar industry, a more competitive field than in Nebraska, he noted.

An additional contributing factor to the growth and success of Iowa’s solar energy development, according to Dwight, is the increasing number of rural electric cooperatives’ solar installations across the state. As an example, he pointed to the small Farmers Electric Cooperative in the little town of Kalona, Iowa, which last month expanded an existing solar farm, taking it to 2 megawatts, currently the largest solar farm in Iowa.

Another of Dwight’s presentation slides demonstrated how some Iowa farmers are earning more each year from solar energy development on their land than they are receiving from their annual corn crops.

To learn more about Tim Dwight and his work, the Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association, as well as Nebraska’s and Iowa’s incentives for renewables, including Iowa’s production tax credit, check out the links, below.

Please join us again on December 14th when our speaker will be David Bracht, Nebraska Energy Office Director, whose topic will be “Renewable Energy Development in Nebraska:” UNO’s Community Engagement Center, Second Floor, 7 p.m.


Under weightless energy, the future rolls in

By John Liesveld, Fremont Tribune

solar cars

Abundant energy permeates the very air inhaled on each breath you take. Next week a group of young minds demonstrates that reality…. After an almost 700 mile trek from Fort Worth, Texas, a convoy to the future rolls up Highway 77 Thursday, July 21, and stops off for some community interaction and an overnight interlude in the parking lot outside Walmart Supercenter before rousing early Friday morning to continue north. Destination: Minneapolis, Minn. Continue reading.

Photo: Solar cars built for the 2015 Solar Car Challenge. The cars were designed and built by young minds solving real world issues. On July 21st between 3:30 and 7:00 p.m., the 2016 Solar Car Challenge participants will roll into Fremont with several built-from-scratch solar car prototypes. Participants will display their vehicles in the Walmart parking lot that evening and encourage Fremont residents to come and visit.

Beatrice is one of 9 stops on a solar-powered voyage, Associated Press / Omaha World Herald

Powering knowledge: Program helps kids learn about renewable energy

By Jane Carlson, QCOnline / Radish Magazine
Iowa Governor's STEM program photo
Building a model wind turbine or solar car is not out of reach for students, thanks to a unique program at the University of Northern Iowa. Inspired by the memoir, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” about a young boy who built a windmill for his family’s electricity source, Fabulous Resources for Energy Education (F.R.E.E.) offers kits for students that put renewable resources into their own hands. The kits have been available for more than 10 years, according to Patricia Higby, energy education and outreach coordinator for the Center for Energy and Environmental Education (CEEE) at UNI, which oversees the F.R.E.E. program. Read more here.

Photo: Courtesy of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. A boy enjoys learning more about wind turbines with a University of Northern Iowa Fabulous Resources for Energy Education wind turbine kit.

F.R.E.E. Resources & Kits for Purchase 
As the article mentions, F.R.E.E. also provides downloadable energy resources, and the renewable energy kits are available for purchase, with quantity discounts. These include the Energy Educator’s Kit, Geared Wind Turbine Kit, Junior Wind Turbine Kit, and the Solar Car Kit.
Fabulous Resources for Energy Education’s Online Store 

More renewable energy resources are available at Nebraska Solar Schools’ website. Click on “Going Solar” for information about the program & “Curriculum Resources” for projects & activities. Most of them are free or inexpensive.

Looking for a summer educational project? Check out Solar Energy International’s Free Online Course

RE100: Introduction to Renewable Energy

Geared toward students 12 years of age and up, Solar Energy International’s free 10-lesson online course includes videos, readings, quizzes, exercises and discussion forums. The course is written at the high school level with lessons in energy efficiency, solar thermal, solar electric, wind, microhydro, renewable energy in the developing world and the economics of renewable energy.

SEI's Intro to Renewable Energy

SEI encourages teachers to take this course and evaluate it as curriculum to be used with students. The course is now also available in Spanish. To learn more, click SEI’s Free Online Course

Visit Solar Energy International’s website for information about all their programs, including:

Nebraska Solar Schools’ website also provides many solar energy resources for all ages: www.nebraskasolarschools.org

Looking for a book to give to a K-8 school in recognition of Earth Day 2016?

Investigating Solar Energy is a new book published by Vernier Software and Technology that contains nine hands-on experiments and two culminating engineering projects that enable students to learn about solar energy and develop solutions to real-world problems.

About Vernier Software & Technology
Vernier Software & Technology has been a leading global innovator of scientific data-collection technology for 35 years. Focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), Vernier is dedicated to developing creative ways to teach and learn using hands-on science.

Vernier creates easy-to-use and affordable science interfaces, sensors, and graphing/analysis software. With worldwide distribution to over 130 countries, Vernier data loggers are used by educators and students from elementary school to University. Vernier technology-based solutions enhance STEM education, increase learning, build students’ critical thinking skills, and support the science and engineering practices detailed in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The Vernier business culture is grounded in Earth-friendly policies and practices, and the company provides a family-friendly workplace. For more information, visit www.vernier.com