EI TV – Green Science!


Educational Innovations Newsletter - EI TVRev Up Your Students with Green Science Videos!

We think green science topics like renewable sources of energy are much easier to understand when students can watch a video.  Animations are especially useful to explain concepts like geothermal energy or—for that matter—biofuels made from…ummm… excrement.

If you come across a video you’d like us to add here, please leave us a comment below!

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Energy Sources in a Classroom


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Energy Sources in a Classroom – Scavenger Hunt

by: Roy Bentley

I had the opportunity to attend the NSTA Convention that was held last month in Boston. It was a great show with amazing displays, topics and speakers. And of course, we had the PowerWheel there demonstrating how easy it is to teach about energy.energy sources in a classroom

One of the points that came up during the show that struck me as worth exploring further was when we asked the teachers we were working with was “what sources of energy do we have in the classroom” The teachers at the show answered the lights, the power outlets, the sunshine through the windows and possibly the forced air from the heating/cooling system. No one referred to the faucet. When the teachers were asked if they had ever had the electricity fail in the school they all answered yes. When asked if they had ever experienced a water failure in the school they all answered no. It was concluded that the most reliable source of energy in the room was the faucet/(gravity).

Here is a simple classroom or home activity to help students realize how many energy sources are around them all the time! Read the rest of this entry »


Should We Build a Dam?


Brandon DeBritzby Brandon DeBritz

A Junior High STEM Exploration into Hydroelectric Energy with the use of the PowerWheel

When we talk about electricity and where it comes from in the Pacific Northwest, hydroelectric energy production is a key source and natural opportunity for teaching.  Part of the curriculum used in the South Kitsap School District in Port Orchard, WA is SEPUP ‘Weathering and Erosion’.  Students explore the Earth processes of weathering, erosion, and deposition all the while considering where to expand residential development in an expanding fictional town along the northwest coast.  This year, students at Cedar Heights Junior High were presented with a new factor to consider for this situation, ’should we build a dam on the town’s river to provide energy for the expanding electrical needs of the city?’ This new situation opened the door for a STEM unit, ‘The Energy of Moving Water’ from the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project (free teacher and student curriculum guides are available from their website  www.need.org).  From this platform, students were engaged in activities and research to explore: what electricity is and how it is created, the designs of a hydroelectric dam and how they work, as well as many of the environmental, economic, social, and political issues around the construction and use of dams. Through a school partnership with RB Industries and the PowerWheel, students explored the fundamental elements of creating electricity through the transfer of moving water.  Picture #1     Read the rest of this entry »


What I have discovered – Teaching about Energy


bKen Crawfordy:  Ken Crawford

As I mentioned in my last blog, I had the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of introducing a new teaching tool called the PowerWheel.  As a career social studies teacher and administrator, it has been a great experience to learn about a whole new area of academics…the teaching of energy and everything that goes along with it.

As we started to market the PowerWheel, one of the first things that we did was to bring together a group of teachers that represented all teaching levels…from the elementary to the post-secondary.  Many of these teachers were not science teachers…or had limited science backgrounds.  After giving them the chance to use the PowerWheel, we asked them, “How can we make the PowerWheel the most effective teaching tool it can be?”

PowerWheel pulleys Teaching about energy

Their answers were an eye-opener for us. It came down to variations on a single theme:  Before we can use the PowerWheel effectively, we need to understand energy ourselves…then we can teach our students. It turns out that one of the greatest fears or limitations that some of the teachers had was the lack of their own knowledge.  If given a chance to choose between a social studies lesson and a science lesson…they would choose the former…just because of comfort level.

From that moment on, we knew that we had an additional priority…help teach the teachers, and then effective learning about energy could take place. The PowerWheel is a great tool to help do this…easy to understand, and easy to use.

Here are three thoughts about teaching energy education in your classroom:

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The Old Dog and the New Tricks


Crawford jpegby:  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.PowerWheel PowerWheel - 2

The PowerWheel

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!

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