Argonne receives 2012 DOE Sustainability Award for Sustainability Workshop for Middle School Teachers

By Diana Anderson

Argonne National Laboratory has been selected to receive the 2012 U.S. Department of Energy Sustainability Award for its Sustainability Workshop for Middle School Teachers. The teacher workshop was launched in 2011 and attracts middle school teachers from across the Chicagoland region including areas such as Bloomingdale, Chicago, Crete, Glen Ellyn, Glenview, Naperville, Orland Park, Plainfield, Tinley Park and Wheaton.

Argonne’s Sustainability Program is committed to educating the next generation about “green” technologies that are currently available and those that Argonne scientists and engineers are studying and developing at the laboratory. “We host groups of school children at the lab on a regular basis for educational sessions on sustainability, but this workshop enables us to, ultimately, educate a larger population by educating the educators,” said Sustainability Program Manager Devin Hodge. “Imagine how many young minds teachers instruct over the course of a career. It’s important for teachers to have resources and knowledge in order to educate our young scientists about sustainable technologies and Argonne provides them with what they need.”

Each five-day workshop session explores current renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, biofuel and hydro power. Educators also learn about the pros and cons of today’s energy options, and hands-on laboratory experiments are conducted as part of the workshop’s practical learning application.

Hands-on activities include building titanium dioxide solar cells — which are then connected in series for increased power and tested for power levels, efficiency and capacity — and building wind turbines from kits and performing gearing ratio experiments to examine performance-output.

Educators also work with other workshop participants to blend their knowledge, concepts and experience into new and usable teaching modules and lessons that are then used in their own respective classrooms.

Argonne’s Sustainability Workshop for Middle School Teachers exemplifies the innovation and commitment to sustainability that the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) awards program is designed to recognize. The second annual DOE Sustainability Awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, September 27 in Washington, DC. Prior to the ceremony, award recipients will share best practices, featuring presentations from their winning projects.

Posted August 28, 2012