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Educators in southeast Washington joined Pacific Education Institute FieldSTEM Coordinators Megan Rivard and Amy Dawley for an adventure in solar energy this February. Through a series of three synchronous Zoom sessions and asynchronous tasks via Canvas, participants learned how agencies are using solar farms in Washington State to increase renewable energy production and decrease reliance on carbon-emitting fossil fuels. An incredible group of professionals from Energy Northwest and City of Richland helped take participants on a virtual field experience to the largest solar and battery storage facility in Washington State currently operating just outside of Richland, Washington. The virtual field experience prepared educators to engage in a panel discussion, where they learned about the science, math, benefits, and limitations of solar power.

A group from Energy Northwest and City of Richland helped take participants on a virtual field experience to the largest solar and battery storage facility in Washington State.

Learning about complex climate issues through the lens of solutions helped participants to frame the NGSS climate science learning in way that would be developmentally appropriate for their grade level. One participant was eager to begin using the storyline with students, stating “Using the pre and post test and videos/demonstrations makes it easy to implement!”

Because of the partnership with ESD 123 (Lorianne Donovan), participants were given the opportunity to earn a stipend by implementing PEI’s Renewable Energy: Solar storyline in their classrooms this spring. The expert panel was also very interested in in-kind support of teachers in their implementation and are very excited to see more solar energy content taught in classrooms.