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Turning science visions into reality
7/9/2013 12:00 AM
Students from Benton and Yakima counties release salmon into the Columbia River near Kennewick, Wash., as part of Benton Conservation District’s “Salmon Power!” education program. Benton received a grant from BPA to help fund the project this year that will reach a total of 6,500 students in eastern Washington.
From purchasing energy robotic kits to providing funds for the construction of small scale hydropower generators, the Bonneville Power Administration is partnering with educators across the Northwest to advance science and energy education in BPA’s service territory.
BPA recently awarded $20,000 in grants to seven finalists in its Science and Energy Education Grants Program. In all, 35 proposals from throughout the region were fielded.
“The Science and Energy Education Grants Program gives BPA a cost-effective way to promote energy awareness and understanding in communities we serve. It also sparks student interest in science, engineering, technology, and math,” said Elliot Mainzer, BPA’s acting Deputy Administrator. “This will help ensure that our future energy users and ratepayers have an understanding and appreciation for the Pacific Northwest energy resources, particularly our hydro system.”
The investment in STEM education can also drive future workforce and new ideas in the energy sector.
The program is in its second year. Seven grants were awarded last year.
This year’s successful applications were marked by creativity in developing programs that provide hands-on challenges for students as well as resourcefulness in bringing together support from the community.
“It is so rewarding to see the innovation and excitement that educators display in making these topics real for their students,” Christy Adams, BPA’s education and volunteer coordinator. “With a modest investment, BPA is able to make their vision a reality and bring exciting, effective, real-world studies to life for thousands of students.”
Recipients of the 2013-2014 BPA Science and Energy Education Grants are:
Sortun Elementary School, Kent, Wash.
– A new “Energy and Renewable Energy Exploration via Robotics” program will teach up to 360 third- through sixth-grade students annually about concepts like energy transfer and transformation as well as operation of the electric grid.
Central Klickitat Conservation District, Goldendale, Wash.
– The “Electric Energy Production and Conservation in the Northwest” program will reach 540 students from middle school through high school about the pros and cons of various types of energy generation. It will also demonstrate science and engineering involved in energy production.
Basin Environmental Education Program, Yakima Basin, Wash.
– With “Sockeye Return with Energy and Power,” 700 students in Yakima and Kittitas are expected to witness the first return of sockeye salmon that spawn at Cle Elum Lake in more than a century. The program will use the event as a springboard to talk about the science involved in managing a river system and in dam modification and habitat restoration.
Middle School, Polson, Mont.
– The “Sparking Energy Stewardship” program will teach 150 sixth-grade students about renewable energy sources and their impacts on individuals, industries and communities. Students will build models, collect data, generate reports and draw conclusions on alternative energy sources.
Benton Conservation District, Kennewick, Wash.
– The “Salmon Power!” project will reach 6,500 students in grades 3-10 as they raise tanks of salmon in the classroom, ultimately releasing the fish into the Columbia River. The program will include presentations on hydroelectric dams and how they are operated and modified to benefit salmon.
Springfield School District/WELL Project, Springfield, Ore.
– “The Power of Water” program will reach 1,000 sixth-grade students and 140 high-school physics and engineering students with a hands-on project where students build, test and modify a small-scale hydropower generator.
County Friends of Extension, Clackamas County, Ore.
– With the “Renewable Energy Education Program,” the grant recipients will develop the state’s first curriculum that teaches renewable and energy conservation topics in keeping with the latest state science and engineering education standards. This program will reach 1,000 students in grades 6-8 in Clackamas County.
The grant program is open to nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations, government agencies and school districts. Applications are due in May, and funding is granted in June for the upcoming school year. Teachers and schools apply through an education foundation (usually through school districts). Recipients are required to be from, and use provided funding in BPA service territory in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and parts of Montana, Nevada and Wyoming. Complete details are posted on the BPA education website.
BPA’s education program provides free presentations and information to K-12 schools in our region to help students achieve energy literacy, and to support science, technology, engineering and math education. For information on BPA education programs, go to
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