HECO mobile lab program boosts renewable energy curriculum

Mar 19, 2013 | PC Community


Submitted by Sharon Higa, Hawaiian Electric Company:

Hawaiian Electric Company is helping Oahu science educators make learning about renewable energy more accessible, interactive and fun for their students. After finding out there was a real need for classroom tools to support a renewable energy curriculum, Hawaiian Electric designed a mobile lab to provide the educational tools and equipment that teachers can use to facilitate hands-on experiments involving photovoltaic and wind studies. The cost is free to public school teachers who have completed the Island Energy Inquiry (IEI) curriculum training.

“The mobile lab complements the IEI curriculum which encourages students to ask questions and apply their knowledge to real-world solutions,” said Cybil Rawlins of Hawaiian Electric’s education and consumer affairs division, which coordinates the mobile lab program. “The lab supports the curriculum while removing the burden for teachers to purchase additional classroom supplies so they can focus their efforts on engaging students in the lesson plans.”

The mobile lab is comprised of two 16.5-gallon bins that contain windmill towers, bases and hubs, wood scraps, 5-volt solar panels, an industrial-strength fan, and various supplies and measurement tools, such as wind and light meters, designed to help students construct and test their own small-scale renewable energy experiments. Each kit provides enough equipment and materials for an entire class to build and monitor 20 wind and solar experiments. Before the kits are rotated among schools, each receives a fresh supply of disposable items, such as batteries, dowels, cellophane and glue sticks.

The first teacher to use the mobile lab kits was 7th grade science teacher Debra Gochros of Ewa Makai Middle School who shared it with nearly 200 students. “What a wonderful experience we had with the mobile lab,” she exclaimed. “The students had fun putting together the windmills, PV cells and the water pump. It was wonderful and the lab reports are great!”

Most recently, 6th grade science teacher Becky Fardal of Washington Middle School shared the mobile lab kits with 25 students in her gifted and talented class. “With the mobile lab and materials like extra pieces of wood to make wind blades, my students could test all the different variables. And, if things broke, we had extras. For the kids, it made the experiments real, hands-on and cool. Not to mention, they loved going outside the classroom to test their designs. I really appreciated having the mobile lab as kids learn more through hands-on experimentation.”

To reserve a mobile lab kit, interested educators can call 543-7511.

                                                                Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Electric Company

Washington Middle School students (left to right): Sarah Kwak, Linda Li, Lucy Le, Kenso Kume, (Lucy & Kenso in background) Rylan Yamada, Dinico Coronado in Becky Fardal’s 6th grade science class.

Hawaiian Electric charitable contributions support education programs in Hawaii

Hawaiian Electric Company contributed more than $118,000 to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs in Hawaii such as robotics, math and science competitions, and engineering fairs.

The company recently contributed an additional $57,000 to support educational programs and services provided by:

•Boys & Girls Club (West Oahu and Windward clubhouses)
• Hawaii Council of Teachers of Mathematics
• Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association Citizenship Awards Scholarship Program
• Kapolei Foundation
• Performing Arts Center of Kapolei
• Makaha Cultural Learning Center
• Makaha Elementary School
• Malama Learning Center