Southern California is known for its sunny days, so what better place than to learn about solar science and energy than in beautiful Pasadena? NEED was proud to work with university of California’s Center for Science education in Berkeley to present two days full of information, activities, and materials to help thirty teachers learn about the sun, its energy, and how to incorporate these concepts into their classrooms.

After lessons about magnetism, the magnetic fields of the sun and earth, and the electromagnetic spectrum from Dr. Bryan Mendez and Kyle Fricke from UCB, Jennifer Trochez-MacLean and I worked through NEED’s Science of Energy activities to help the teachers understand how energy transformations take place, and how radiant energy, electricity, and magnetism are all put to use. The day concluded with an introduction to solar energy, with examples of both passive and active technologies being discussed. All that in just the first day!

Wednesday morning the teachers and staff worked through understanding what really causes the four seasons. Teachers broke out into grade-level groups to work through Eye on the Sky and Living with a Star lessons led by Ruth Paglierani and Kyle Fricke. During lunch we discussed the field of photovoltaic research and all of the great advances that have been made in the last several years. Teachers again separated into grade-level groups to either work with Jennifer to learn about solar energy activities or to do some explorations from Exploring Photovoltaics. At the end of the afternoon, Dr. Claire Raftery, a scientist at the UCB Solar Sciences Laboratory, talked about the sun, its energy, and how scientists are using NASA satellites and spacecraft to learn about the sun.

The final morning brought a real treat – a special, personally guided tour of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory! Teachers saw the Space Flight Operations facility and Spacecraft Assembly facility, and learned about the missions directed by JPL, their current status, and where they are. Several models of many spacecraft, from Voyager to Curiosity, are found around JPL and the teachers attending the workshop were able to see them all! What a great end to a great workshop! Special thanks to Ota Lutz, NASA/JPL Education Specialist, for the hospitality and great tour!

A guest blog written by Caryn Turrel, NEED Program Associate