NYPA Putting Offshore Wind Education into STEM Programs
With several offshore wind projects in development on Long Island, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) is incorporating the technology into its STEM programs statewide and launching the curriculum in Long Island classrooms. The lessons about renewable energy are also available to educators statewide on NYPA’s Virtual Learning Center.
“Offshore wind will be an increasingly important topic over the next decade, and it is vital that our students, particularly underserved youth, are educated on the green energy careers available to them,” says Kaela Mainsah, vice president of NYPA’s environmental justice team. “This is one of several energy-related education programs NYPA offers in communities near our assets to help students be academically competitive and have the opportunity to join a growing workforce.”
Wind energy is becoming more prevalent in New York State, bringing promises of economic benefits to New Yorkers, including power to more than 2 million homes, significant investments in long-term port facilities and cutting-edge technologies, and support for more than 6,800 jobs. Several major projects, including Empire Wind, Beacon Wind and Sunrise Wind, are being proposed or constructed off Long Island shores.
NYPA partnered with the School of Professional Development at Stony Brook University to adapt its extensive technical content based around wind energy for adults. The Environmental Justice department’s curriculum specialist, WhyMaker, adapted the content and created a curriculum and a hands-on activity for elementary students, specifically fifth grade. Advanced versions are available for middle and high schools, college-bound students, underemployed youth, and young adults interested in careers using the latest green technology.
In the lessons, students learn about renewable resources and how offshore wind energy works. Working as structural engineers, they build and test floating offshore wind turbine platform prototypes using test tubes, marbles, weights, tape, and other materials.
The Offshore Wind for Kids program was recently presented to the New York State Master Teacher Program, a fellowship for K-12 STEM teachers, who toured the Advanced Energy Center at Stony Brook University as part of a professional development program. Representatives from Stony Brook University’s Economic Development team, NYPA, and Whymaker, made the presentation to teachers from more than 20 school districts in Long Island.