University News

Six Schools Selected for IL Wind for Schools Program

April 6, 2012


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MACOMB/NORMAL, IL -- Six middle and senior high schools have been selected from a statewide application process to participate in Illinois Wind for Schools (ILWFS), a program jointly administered by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University and the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University.

According to IIRA Wind Energy Program Coordinator Jolene Willis, the 2012-2013 ILWFS partner schools include Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, Chicago Public Schools #299, Cook County; Southwestern Middle and High School, Southwestern Community Unit School District (CUSD) #9, Macoupin County; Riverview Grade School, Riverview Community Consolidated School District (CCSD) #2, Woodford County; Galva High School, Galva School District #224, Henry County; Astoria Junior High School, Astoria CUSD #1, Fulton County; and Plano High School, Plano CUSD #88, Kendall County.

Willis noted the ILWFS program incorporates wind energy topics into the classroom through on-site training workshops at each partner school; customized curricula and lesson plans; and lab equipment for hands-on activities. Continuing professional development units (CPDUs) are offered for all required teacher-training sessions, she said. According to Matt Aldeman, senior energy analyst for the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University, the program's purpose is to engage Illinois school teachers and students in energy education, specifically targeting wind energy.

"We hope to educate students with the knowledge of wind energy principles, to position the next generation of career and technical professionals to enter the growing U.S. wind industry," Aldeman said. "We will also be able to provide technical assistance to Illinois school administrators on renewable energy integration in school facilities."

Willis added that the ILWFS program addresses specific Illinois Learning Standards goals in mathematics, including estimation and measurement, as well as data analysis and probability. She said it also encompasses specific science goals, which include inquiry and design; concepts and principles; and science, technology and society.

"Participating teachers will be required to attend the on-site workshop and maintain communication with Illinois Wind for Schools staff, providing evaluation and feedback of the lab activities, curriculum and equipment throughout the 2012-2013 school year," she said.

The program will begin with a summer 2012 teacher workshop held on site at each partner school. Topics of the workshop will include fundamentals of wind energy, principles of wind turbine operation and ideas for integrating wind energy into the existing curriculum. During summer 2012, all participating schools will receive a classroom set of experimental model wind turbines; equipment with which to build and test the model wind turbines; a pack of experimental weather balloons; a model wind tunnel and customized lab activities; and a comprehensive wind energy curriculum.

The wind energy curriculum includes lesson plans in five distinct areas: energy and electricity; wind and weather; turbines and engineering; environmental considerations; and economics.

"This fall, the ILWFS staff will install scientific weather instrumentation on the school grounds at each partner school. Teachers and students will then be able to easily access data collected by the weather instrumentation using any Internet connection. Wind energy lessons will be integrated into the existing curriculum throughout the school year and the program will conclude in spring 2013," Willis explained.

In addition to working with the six partner schools, the ILWFS program will hold a workshop Thursday, June 14, for any Illinois middle school or high school educator interested in incorporating wind energy topics into his or her classroom.

During the workshop the ILWFS team will present a background of the energy and wind energy industries, wind energy fundamental principles and curriculum and methods for integrating energy and wind energy materials into the classroom. The workshop will be held on the Illinois State University campus and will be free of charge, Aldeman noted.

Workshop registration information will be available soon through the ILWFS website at www.ilwfs.org.

The ILWFS program is administered through a partnership with the IIRA at Western Illinois University, the Western Illinois University Department of Engineering Technology; the Center for Renewable Energy at Illinois State University; and the College of Education at Illinois State University. All training, curriculum and equipment are offered at no charge to schools selected for the program through grant funding provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

For more information about the Illinois Wind for Schools program, contact Willis at (309) 298-2835 or Aldeman at (309) 438-1440. Visit Illinois Wind for Schools online at ilwfs.org. Learn more about the IIRA's Illinois Wind Project at www.illinoiswind.org.

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations