by: Ken Crawford
An amazing thing happened to me about 18 months ago…I learned something new! Now, I know that might not seem like a major thing…but for a person who has been a social studies teacher and administrator for 30 + years…I sometimes think that I have seen it all…nothing much new out there…but a single phone call changed all of that.
I received a call from a friend asking if I would be willing to meet with a gentleman who had invented a new teaching “tool”. He wanted to know if it would help teachers to be more effective in their classrooms. More effective teaching is something that I am always interested in…so I agreed to meet.
What I had a chance to see was a teaching tool called the PowerWheel. A micro hydro generator, it had the capability of using water from a sink to create enough electricity to light up a string of LED lights, charge up a cell phone or even power up a notepad.
Roy Bentley, the inventor/designer, asked me if I thought it might be something that teachers could use to help them teach students about energy. I remember telling him, “I’m a social studies teacher…we need to ask some science teachers”. I put together a focus group of teachers that represented grade levels from 3rd grade through college. Some taught science all day long, others were expected to include science as part of their overall curriculum. We gathered them together in a room and just let them “play” with the PowerWheel. We had a great time, received some great feedback and saw what fantastic teaching ideas can be generated by a group of enthusiastic educators! I think I learned more about science in one day than I had in the past 20 years….it was amazing!
And for me, it was an eye opener. Science hadn’t been my strength in school, but here was a tool that was easy to use, easy to understand and even had me thinking about how I could use it in a classroom. The old dog was learning new tricks!
The PowerWheel has really taken off. It has been featured in a number of websites (including here at Educational Innovations) as well as been the hit of a number of conventions and gatherings of science teachers. Over the next few months, I look forward to sharing some great lessons on energy, and provide some great examples of how the PowerWheel is being used by other educators throughout the country. Stay tuned!
Ken Crawford first began teaching in 1975. He has been a teacher, coach and administrator at the junior high, high school and post-secondary levels. He continues to teach at the community college and university levels including supervision of student teachers interested in entering the profession. He also serves as the Director of Marketing and Learning Resources for RB Manufacturing – the producer of the PowerWheel.