2020 NEED Year in Review




As with many events in 2020, NEED had to figure out a way to quickly move in-person workshops to the virtual realm. The trick was to find an innovative way to create the same atmosphere of hands-on learning and prevent educators from experiencing Zoom fatigue. We researched best virtual platforms and practices, purchased technology to enhance the presenter’s screen and demonstrations, and trained our awesome NEED Facilitators who were up to the challenge!


SMUD Solar Career Pathways

Solar Career Pathways was a partnership with NEED and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) as the leaders in the program. Additional sponsors include Spotlight Solar, Baker Energy, and the Greater Sacramento Urban League. The program began in spring of 2019 when we started working on a curriculum piece for a 40-hour training program designed to help young adults in underserved communities prepare for entry-level careers in the solar installation industry. The participants in the program would then go on to help install some solar sculptures provided by Spotlight Solar. The class was structured to be ten, four-hour class meetings for a total of 40 hours. Most of these class sessions were two evenings per week starting January 8, 2020. The course ended February 13th with a celebration for those who completed the course. At any given time, 40 adults ranging in age from 18 to 56 were registered, but the core of the class consisted of 21 participants who attended nearly all of the classes and completed all of the assignments and assessments.

Lead instructor, Caryn Turrel, reflects,

"A definite highlight that I will carry with me is how eager to learn each of these individuals was. They were cooperative, friendly, and ready to seize any opportunity they could to get a better job. It was a very rewarding experience and after the pandemic restrictions are lifted, I am eager to get going with the next round of training!"

National Energy Conference for Educators - Virtual!

July 19-22, 2020

Each July NEED hosts a National Energy Conference, which brings together educators that are passionate about bringing energy education into their classrooms. Through five interactive days, the conference provides teachers with the most up-to-date information on all aspects of energy including the science of energy, sources of energy, transportation, electricity, efficiency and environmental and economic impacts. While we held out hope for an in-person event, it came down to the tough decision of canceling or finding a way to host an engaging, virtual experience. A huge thank you to our sponsor, ConocoPhillips, who recognized the value this annual conference has for educators and sponsored NEED hosting a more condensed virtual conference for interested applicants. To not diminish our key hands-on experience that NEED is known for, supplies and curriculum materials were sent ahead of time to the 27 virtual conference participants. Utilizing the breakout room feature in Zoom, NEED was also still able to present information and activities geared at specific grade levels and energy topics. 100% of our participants liked the virtual path we took to still host this event and would recommend attending either virtually or in-person to their colleagues/peers.

"This learning opportunity gave me the chance to connect with science educators across the country and enhance my own energy understanding. I feel far more prepared to better teach my students this fall, especially in the distance learning environment we are likely to be in! THANK YOU!!"

"The Virtual NEED conference was a positive, educational experience that provided for me an incredible wealth of NEED energy resources that I can easily use with my students. The staff instructors were master presenters that made the virtual conference beneficial to me as an experienced teacher."

"This experience was definitely a positive part of my summer. I can't wait to share what I learned with my peers and students!"

We look forward to being in-person again for the 2021 Conference that is set for July 18-22 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Applications are open!

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Massachusetts Energy Conference for Educators – Virtual!

August 2-5, 2020

The Cape Light Compact, Eversource, National Grid, Columbia Gas Massachusetts, and Berkshire Gas in partnership with The NEED Project hosted our first Massachusetts Energy Conference for Educators.

"Teaching energy has always been a struggle area of mine in the classroom. This workshop broke down this topic in sequential and logical steps teaching me the comprehensive knowledge of energy production. I feel empowered and authentically excited to implement this content for my second graders!"

"This was so awesome! You taught me more about how to teach effectively in distance learning than my district did, so thanks so much!"

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