As the NEED Energy Conference for Educators came to a close this past week, many teachers took home more than just science kits. The five-day event, led by some of NEED’s best facilitators Constance Beatty, Vernon Kimball, Shelly Baumann, Don Pruett, and DaNel Hogan, was really fun. Each day was filled with energy activities and breakout sessions plus hilarious, but educational, skits and songs written and performed by participants. Who says energy isn’t easily integrated in language arts and music? The performances are available on NEED’s YouTube page! See them here at

The conference started with the Science of Energy and energy transformations. With a foundation of this knowledge, it is much easier to expand knowledge of the sources of energy, electricity, transportation, and energy efficiency.

The five days are action packed, filled with fun and energizing activities (except the food coma that happens immediately after lunch). Teachers aren’t used to getting more than 5 minutes for lunch – so the opportunity to sit, linger, chat, and enjoy made getting back to business in the afternoons challenging at times. Even more challenging was deciding between break-out sessions. After listening to feedback from previous conferences, the conference team set an agenda for 2012 that provided multiple subject matter sessions. Watching participants agonize over their selection was amusing at times. They’ll just have to apply to attend next year!

Some of the most popular sessions included Hydrogen, Nuclear Energy (complete with irradiated salt experiments), Create Your Own Energy Team, and Exploring Wind. The Exploring Wind session included turbine and blade explorations, which wowed many of the teachers. I had the opportunity of helping with the Create Your Own Energy Team session. I found this to be the most rewarding portion of the entire week. Many teachers seemed excited and motivated to use NEED’s curriculum in their classrooms and in afterschool student leadership programming after listening to how much it impacted my life and my potential career choice. It truly is humbling to know that I could help educators new to NEED learn more about its impact on student leadership and engagement.

On Tuesday night, participants were given the opportunity to see the Washington Nationals play at Nationals Park. It was a hot evening (99 degrees on the field at first pitch – that’s a LOT of thermal energy) but a great game that, much to the chagrin of Mets fans, the Nationals pulled out a “W”. NEED even got a shout-out from the Nationals on the Jumbotron.

It was a very successful week with great participants, great energy learning, and lots of fun. Many of the new friendships will last far beyond the conference – making the NEED network stronger. The entire NEED staff thanks each and every participant for taking the time to attend, to be engaged, and to help increase energy knowledge in our schools.


A guest blog written by Ian Munn, NEED Intern, DePauw University