Green and Renewable Energy Workshop at Lewis University

7/10/2013, 5:01 p.m.
The Green and Renewable Energy Workshop (GREW) at Lewis University incorporated sustainability teaching ideas into math, science, social studies, language ...
Joliet’s Gompers Junior High teachers learn about electric cars and solar power during the Green and Renewable Energy Workshop (GREW) at Lewis University.

ROMEOVILLE—The Green and Renewable Energy Workshop (GREW) at Lewis University incorporated sustainability teaching ideas into math, science, social studies, language arts, health and art, among others.

The collaboration between middle-school teachers in Joliet School District 86 and Lewis University faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education began with a two-week workshop for teachers from all disciplines. It inspired ideas and techniques for increasing their students’ achievement by working with issues related to sustainability and green energy. After the workshop, the teachers continue to collaborate with Lewis University throughout the year.

Twenty-five teachers from Gompers Junior High in Joliet participated in this year’s workshop, which was held June 17-27 in the new Science Center. The participants represent many different departments at Gompers, including Math, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, Health and Art. They worked with Lewis University faculty from the sciences and education on a variety of activities, including lecture-and-discussion sessions, hands-on laboratory experiments, group presentations and field trips.

The teachers performed experiments in physics and chemistry, including an egg-drop competition and an environmental forensics exercise. They learned how to write computer programs in Scratch and Python. They discovered how computer and cyber security issues are impacting today’s electrical grid. They read and discussed articles about climate change and sustainable practices. They were introduced to the various electronic research tools available at the Lewis University library, which they used to build a research basis for their classroom project proposals for the upcoming school year. They also visited several sites, including Argonne National Laboratory, a wind farm in Shabonna, Ill., the ComEd Training Facility in Rockford, and the Thanks Jordan Raw Vegan Café in Lockport.

The program was funded by an Illinois Math Science Partnership Grant (MSP) provided through the U.S. Department of Education. The grant funds continue beyond the workshop. They provide support for ongoing collaboration throughout the school year between the middle-school teachers and Lewis University faculty, as well as equipment and material purchases that benefit the students. It was the third and final year of the grant.

The principle investigators for the grant are Dr. Ray Klump, professor and chair of Mathematics and Computer Science and director of the Master of Science in Information Security program, and Dr. Lauren Rentfro, assistant professor in Secondary Education. Other Lewis University faculty who helped with the workshop were Dr. Dorene Huvaere, professor and chair of Secondary Education; Dr. Jerry Kavouras, associate professor of Biology; Dr. Jason Keleher, assistant professor and chair of Chemistry; Dr. Joe Kozminski, associate professor and chair of Physics; and Dr. Cindy Kersey, assistant professor of Computer Science.

“This was such an enjoyable and rewarding experience for both the Gompers teachers and the Lewis University faculty,” Klump said. “The Gompers faculty are tremendous, dedicated teachers who have great ideas and an infectious camaraderie. Their students are very lucky to have them as their teachers.”