June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Pre-College Engineering Education Division
Many of the pressing issues facing the world today are fundamentally intertwined with global energy needs. Thus, a defining challenge of the 21st century is meeting the world’s demand for energy. Photovoltaic (PV) devices are a promising sustainable energy source. If the production and use of PV continues to grow at present rates, it can sustainably meet the world’s total energy demand by 2050. However, committed engineers and knowledgeable citizen are needed to achieve this goal. Thus, QESST, an Engineering Research Center for Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies, aims to advance PV science, technology and education by supporting the ability of K-12 teachers and outreach coordinators to develop and implement lessons on PV research and engineering.
To further these aims, QESST implemented a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program that provides classroom teachers opportunities to develop connections between the lab and the classroom. Participants spent two weeks working in QESST Solar Power Lab, making and testing their own solar cells and modules. They spent another three weeks learning about various socio-technical aspects of PV and developing solar curricula for K-12 students. In consultation with QESST graduate students specializing in PV-related fields, and drawing on educational research, they developed a set of interrelated lessons incorporating active, constructive, and interactive elements. Each lesson went through multiple design cycles to ensure its effectiveness. Lessons were iteratively improved through peer critique and field testing during K-12 outreach events. Finally, QESST education leaders and scholars provided support as RETs implemented the new PV curricula in their own classrooms during the subsequent school year.
The resulting set of QESST RET lessons integrates engineering, science, and mathematics instruction in meaningful and significant ways to support K-12 students understanding of how solar cells are made and how engineering research is improving the potential of PV to address the world’s energy needs. The purpose of the lessons is to help K-12 students learn about solar energy technologies and imagine how they might one day become innovators in this important field. Each lesson can be used across a range of grade levels.
Jordan, M., & DeLaRosa, M., & Hooper, R., & Murphy, J. D., & Anderson, C. (2017, June), Increasing K-12 Students' Understanding of Photovoltaics: Using Solar Energy to Engineer our Energy Future (Resource Exchange) Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28518
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