An overview of the Wind for Schools program (via DOE)
An exciting new project in Illinois is looking for middle schools and high schools to partake in an innovative curriculum change. The project is called Illinois Wind for Schools, modeled after the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) "Wind for Schools." Illinois has the second largest capacity for wind power in the United States, but it has not received funds from the Department of Energy to participate in NREL’s program.
Instead, the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs and the Department of Engineering Technology at Western Illinois University along with the Center for Renewable Energy and the College of Education from the Illinois State University are organizing their own program with funding from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The goal is to give students a well rounded idea of how weather and energy systems interact, pique their interest in the wind energy field, and to set the stage for Illinois based wind energy projects.
Applications are being accepted from schools that would like to participate in the program, which will begin in the 2012-2013 school year. Three to five schools will be chosen. These schools will receive all equipment and models necessary to teach the theory of wind energy and also allow the students plenty of hands on with with the projects. Functional model turbines components, model wind tunnels, testing equipment, weather balloons and weather data collection will be implemented in customizable labs and a comprehensive curriculum at each participating school. The ILWFS program will also run training sessions for teachers.
The project is getting a hand from the NREL by being a Wind for Schools Affiliate. These affiliates have access to the NREL’s publications, previous experiences, technical assistance, training programs, informational summits and the Wind for Schools online database.
No talk of expanding the program to more schools, but we are sure to learn more when the program has run through some iterations. The chosen schools will be notified April 2. Undoubtedly, this is a necessity of the future, and more schools should follow. Webinars, training classes, and other useful wind energy information is available at the Wind Powering America page.