Solar Solutions: PEI & ESD 123 team up for professional learning on renewable energy

Richland Public Library provided the perfect backdrop for four Central and Eastern Washington educators to explore how solar energy interacts with surfaces and materials here on Earth.

Participants examine solar panels up close.

Participants examine solar panels up close.

When Central Washington FieldSTEM Coordinator Megan Rivard brought out the 1873 curiosity known as a light mill, the idea of solar energy transfers and transformations became phenomena to explore.

Participants engaged in activities from Pacific Education Institute Solutions Oriented Learning Storylines, played games, and used the library building itself to engage in a solar energy 3-dimensional assessment. “My students will love this” stated one participant, who loved the centering of traditional Indigenous stories in the materials.

Participants spent time with Richland Energy Services Director Clint Whitney to learn the ins and outs of renewable energy on an industrial scale. “We really need a diverse supply of energy,” Whitney explained. “We can’t have all energy be solar or all be wind.” Whitney took the educators on a tour of the Horn Rapids Solar Storage and Training facility, a 20-acre solar farm and battery storage operation. “I want you to get a feeling for the scale of this.” Whitney explained that this facility provides power to 150 homes out of approximately 23,500 in the city (less than 1%).

Amy Dawley, Eastern Washington FieldSTEM Coordinator, shared an incredible microgrid project from the Spokane Tribe. The Children of the Sun Solar Initiative (COSSI) was born out of disaster and shows how small-scale projects can make huge differences in community energy sovereignty across the state.

After the workshop, participants are prepared to implement the latest content in their classrooms in many ways and feel excited for the opportunity to share this new learning with their students.

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