Jan 20, 2016

Since 2009, the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) Women In Technology program (WIT) has trained 459 educators through the energy science curriculum of its Island Energy Inquiry (IEI) initiative. In that time it has expanded from Maui across the state, reaching at least 49,000 students. IEI is the first energy education program designed for Hawaii teachers that combines scientific inquiry and engineering design processes with cutting-edge materials and technologies in the classroom. Teachers are using this new knowledge and hands-on activities to help middle and high school students learn about and perhaps someday solve the state’s energy concerns.
“Through the IEI workshops, our MEDB team helps teachers educate for energy prosperity,” said Graham R. DeVey, WIT Project Manager. “Our hands-on, student-driven labs and activities use the natural curiosity of students to develop their skills for tomorrow’s high-tech jobs in renewable energy here in Hawaii.”  In recent Maui workshops for teachers of grades K through 5, WIT Project Assistant, Manda Tong supported the educators in an IEI electromagnetic motor lab, building the foundational concepts used in engineering wind and hydro generators. “In IEI courses, teachers learn as students do, by applying scientific skills through a hands on approach,” Tong explained.
The workshop series, focusing on photovoltaic electricity, wind energy, solar thermal energy and energy efficiency, incorporated presentations from local engineers and other industry representatives on various energy topics. Participating teachers also received hands-on kits to take back to the classroom, including miniature PV modules, a four-foot wind turbine and energy auditing equipment. WIT’s IEI Program, in partnership with Ka Hei, a Department of Education Program, also includes comprehensive energy efficiency and water conservation initiatives, sustainability measures, microgrids, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum and community involvement.
To augment the IEI curriculum and make it more tech-relevant to teens, a companion Clean-Energy Hawaii STEM iPad app has been created by NSC Partners LLC, a Maui-based software developer. The app is available at the iTunes store and features Hawaii-specific clean energy content that can be adapted to support innovative energy science education in any community throughout the world.