Now in its second year, the Illinois Wind for Schools (ILWFS) program is accepting applications from highly motivated middle school and high school teachers in Illinois public school districts. Three to five middle and/or high schools are selected each academic year as ILWFS partner schools for intensive support through on-site teacher training and classroom resources. Those who are sincerely interested in incorporating wind energy into their curriculum and providing outreach to their community are encouraged to apply by March 1, 2013.
Illinois Wind for Schools applications to participate during the 2013-14 school year are available at www.ilwfs.org. Eligible disciplines include math, science, agriculture, industrial technology, engineering and related subject disciplines. An open-enrollment generalized workshop will be available to all schools that wish to incorporate wind energy into their curriculum. Schools selected for the program will be notified by April 2, 2013.
According to Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs Wind Energy Program Coordinator Jolene Willis, the program offers curriculum development resources, professional development, on-site technical assistance and instructional equipment.
“In addition, there are numerous education and training programs offered throughout Illinois. We want to raise awareness and interest among the students to prepare them for renewable energy careers,” Willis explained. “We hope to arrange for at least one guest speaker at each school every year, to explore career readiness and post-secondary education opportunities. That aspect of the program was very well received this past year.”
Matt Aldeman, senior energy analyst for the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University, noted the wind energy curriculum includes lesson plans in energy and electricity; wind and weather; turbines and engineering; environmental considerations; and economics.
“The ILWFS program addresses the specific Illinois Learning Standards goals in mathematics, including estimation and measurement, as well as data analysis and probability. It also encompasses specific science goals which include inquiry and design; concepts and principles; and science, technology and society.”
The ILWFS program timeline will begin with an early summer 2013 teacher workshop held on site at each partner school, offering the fundamentals of wind energy, principles of wind turbine operation and ideas for integrating wind energy into the existing curriculum. All participating schools will receive a classroom set of KidWind model wind turbines, a weather station, customized lab activities and a comprehensive wind energy curriculum to integrate wind energy materials and energy literacy terms designed to supplement teachers’ academic goals. Continuing professional development units (CPDUs) will also be offered for all teacher training sessions required to participate in this program. All training, curriculum and equipment will be offered at no charge to schools selected for the program.
In the Fall of 2013, the ILWFS staff will install scientific weather instrumentation on the school grounds at each partner school. Teachers and students will then be able to easily access data collected by the weather instrumentation using any Internet connection. Wind energy lessons will be integrated into the existing curriculum at teachers’ discretion throughout the school year and the program will conclude in spring 2014. Participating teachers will be required to attend the on-site workshop and maintain communication with Illinois Wind for Schools staff, providing evaluation and feedback of the lab activities, curriculum, and equipment throughout the 2013-14 academic year.
This initiative, made possible through Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) grant funding, is sponsored through a partnership with the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University, the College of Business and Technology at Western Illinois University, the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University and the College of Education at Illinois State University.
For more information regarding the Illinois Wind for Schools program, contact Jolene Willis at (309) 298-2835 or Matt Aldeman at (309) 438-1440, or visit www.ilwfs.org to download the application.
Source: Western Illinois University