A Curriculum for Teaching Alternative Energy in Middle School Grades

Virtual Paper ID: 56080
  1. aaa
    Stella Otoo
    STEM Outreach Center, New Mexico State University
  2. aaa
    Suparna Chatterjee
    STEM Outreach Center, New Mexico State University
  3. Paige Wheeler
    STEM Outreach Center, New Mexico State University
  4. aaa
    Sara Morales
    STEM Outreach Center, New Mexico State University

Abstract: Recent studies show an increase in the severity of climate change. There is a need for (1) minimizing the spread and effect of climate change on the earth and (2) positively influencing behaviors affecting the climate. Out-of-School Time (OST) programs provide students an opportunity to engage in such complex issues. To educate students on the effects of climate change and make their learning relatable, the STEM Outreach Center at a higher education institution in the southern New Mexico region created a 10-week curriculum for an OST program. We piloted the Alternative Energy curriculum in fall 2019 at three local public middle schools. Preliminary feedback from teachers and students show a high level of engagement and knowledge assimilation among students. Lessons and activities in the curriculum are based on the Engineering Design Process, which guides students through steps to research, plan, design, evaluate, and improve their ideas to solve a problem.


Workshop Objectives The learning objectives for the workshop are to: 1. Introduce participants to a Project-Based Learning (PBL) approach centered in the Engineering Design Process (EDP) for teaching Alternative Energy 2. Give participants tools to teach students about climate change through hands-on, real-world activities.

Topical Outline

- Introduction - Background, need for, and objectives of the curriculum. - Introduction to PBL and EDP (hands-on activity - Ice breaker and participant grouping Activity - Break - Introduction to curriculum content and module - Hands-on exploration of selected modules - Break - Questions, discussion, and exploration of objectives, modules, and outcomes from participants' perspectives. - Mini presentations -Exit ticket and dismissal

Experience Level



Stella Otoo is a doctoral student in the School of Teacher Preparation and Administrative Leadership (TPAL) at New Mexico State University (NMSU). She is a project coordinator for Project GUTS (Growing Up Thinking Scientifically) at the STEM Outreach Center of NMSU and has experience in teaching computer programming and writing curricula for Out-of-School Time (OST) programs and Summer camps. Suparna Chatterjee holds a Ph.D. in Science and has taught undergraduate science courses for 14 years. She is a Ph.D. student in TPAL and an Instructor for the Educational Technology course at NMSU. She develops curricula for OST programs and Summer camps in the STEM Outreach Center at NMSU. Paige Wheeler is a Program Specialist at the STEM Outreach Center at NMSU. She is the curriculum coordinator for the middle school grades and a program coordinator for 20 OST program sites and all on-campus Summer camps funded by 21st Century Community Learning Centers and Spaceport America. She has experience writing curriculum for out-of-school time programs and Summer camps. Sara Morales is the Associate Director for the STEM Outreach Center. Her job duties include leading daily operations; collaborating with district/school administrators, teachers, and staff; and overseeing research, outreach, and professional learning initiatives. She also communicates with established partners in education; conducts observations in math classrooms and OST programs; and ensures high quality and accountability of the center’s work through data analysis and dissemination.


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