Melanie Harper, Josh Rubin, Josh Melanson and Don Pruett taught four workshops at the National Science Teachers Association’s regional conference held in Seattle, WA this past December 8th – 10th, 2011. Melanie Harper is a Program Associate with NEED. Josh Rubin and Don Pruett are both on the NEED Teacher Advisory Board. Josh Melanson is a local teacher at Hazen High School who uses NEED materials in his classroom. The four classes taught at the conference were: Teaching Electricity Through Hydropower, Career Currents: Energy Careers, Credit Recovery: Energy as a Theme for Credit Recovery Success and School Energy Survey.

The Hydropower workshop was a three hour workshop where teachers spent the majority of the time building and exploring hydropower models. The elementary teachers spent time building an elementary hydropower model with Josh Rubin and Melanie helping them succeed in understanding the transfer of energy. The elementary teachers then built the intermediate hydropower model and were very excited to complete it. The intermediate and secondary teachers worked on their models with Don and Josh Melanson. It was a great group of teachers to work with as they were involved in building models and excited about learning the hydropower curriculum.

Melanie led a session on her about careers in energy. Melanie had a small but interested group in the types of jobs available in the energy industry. You can find more about energy careers in NEED’s newsletter, Career Currents.

The end of the day was highlighted when Josh Rubin, Don and Melanie visited the top of the Space Needle. This time of year to have a cloudless evening in Seattle is rare. It was also close to a full moon, so the view was awesome. Josh Melanson was unable to join us as he was being a good student and attending his physics class at the University of Washington.

Friday was another gorgeous day in Seattle. A gorgeous day in December in Seattle means the sun is out and there is no rain. It actually only warmed up to 38 degrees. Josh Rubin, being from Palo Alto, was cold most of the time. Don and Josh Melanson had a small but intimate group of teachers for their class, Credit Recovery. Most of the teachers taught in alternative schools. Rather than do a stand up lecture, we circled up the chairs and discussed means to use the various NEED energy projects in the alternative school environment along with addressing the challenges the alternative students face. Melanie and Josh Rubin finished the day off with their School Energy Survey.

The four NEED facilitators attended the NSTA exhibition floor where rows and rows of vendors sell their wares. The most intriguing new item Don saw was a sink top micro-hydro generator called the “PowerWheel.” The power wheel is designed to create energy when the power goes out from the water pressure from your kitchen sink and used to teach about energy, conservation and sustainability. Josh Melanson ran across the American Nuclear Society booth that was giving out replicas of a uranium pellet. The energy from one uranium pellet equals the amount of energy from one ton of coal. Josh was excited because just around the corner was the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SEM). SEM was giving out free lumps of coal. Josh didn’t have to wait for Santa this year for a lump of coal, as now he has a great visual for his students to show how much energy can be obtained from 2000 pieces of coal (one ton) compared to one uranium pellet.
All in all, the group was enjoyable to work with and these few days together provided a great opportunity to spread the NEED message.

PS: Don was excited to meet Page Keeley, 2008-2009 NSTA president and popular author of Uncovering Student Ideas in Science series. Page had just finished one of her very popular workshops and was cleaning up as Don entered to set up for his workshop.