The nonprofit National Energy Education Development, or NEED project, deserves recognition for its 40 years of incredible work surrounding energy education for K-12 students. The NEED project was founded in 1980 and is dedicated to creating an energy literate society by providing teachers, students and parents with free energy curriculum materials, high quality hands-on kits, and free teacher workshops.
Barry Scott, the NEED Project’s California State Program Director, is responsible for delivering educational programs for energy sector partners, conducting hands-on workshops, and providing guidance to teachers and students engaged in energy studies and pursuing careers in the energy and environment sectors.
Mr. Scott summed up the NEED Project’s core principles during our conversation,
“We make teaching energy easy by providing the materials and training needed at no cost to the teachers. Then the teachers train their students to be experts who can help their parents and friends understand energy and how important it is to use energy wisely.”
These educational programs have achieved tremendous milestones that have reached underserved communities and communities in despair. They implemented a high school energy career pathway programs at Arroyo Grande High School and a Solar Suitcase training program that sent Salinas High School teacher Philip Deutschle and two students to Kenya to deliver solar power to a community without electricity.
In addition, NEED Project responded to the needs of Paradise, CA, one month after the tragic Camp Fire to provide hands-on wind turbine building lessons to students at two schools, Evergreen 6th Grade Academy and Paradise Charter Middle School. The following spring, Barry went with a team of Evergreen students and their teacher, Greg Holman, to compete in the national KidWind competition in Houston.
In the wake of school closures, NEED has expanded its portfolio of distance learning resources and begun offering workshops online. Since schools closures began in March, Barry has been sharing NEED’s online materials, using Zoom to attend meetings with school districts, industry partners, and participate with teachers and students as they meet online. Looking ahead, Barry anticipates continued demand for teachers to have access to engaging STEM activities and a growing need for connecting students to the topics of energy generation, energy conservation and efficiency. Many teachers feel that online learning is going to become a permanent part of instruction this fall and beyond. For Central Coast schools, it is a perfect time to include energy awareness and conservation in K-12 school curriculum.