See if your school is eligible! View the eligible counties list here.

What Is the Energizing Student Potential Program?

The Energizing Student Potential Program is “STEM project-based,” combining classroom activities with a school energy audit by students, a student-run energy fair and an energy-focused STEM challenge as well as numerous opportunities for energy speakers, career connections and expanded STEM resources for the classroom. Students learn about all energy sources, electricity generation, climate science and energy efficiency and share their knowledge with others.

ComEd, the Exelon Foundation, BP, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, in partnership with the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project, offer Energizing Student Potential (ESP), a STEM-focused energy program for grades 3 – 8. This program brings together standards-based curriculum (Next Generation Science Standards) for use by educators in the classroom, clubs or out of school time programs. The program is also perfect for youth advocacy organizations with afterschool or weekend programs for youth.

Energizing Student Potential is a collaborative educational initiative designed to empower students to explore opportunities in STEM fields and help them discover their own path to innovation through a variety of classroom subjects. ESP is designed to help educators bring energy into the school and to provide all the tools and resources necessary for students and educators to learn together, explore energy together, and teach their local communities about energy.

Teachers and students engage in science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities in the classroom while learning fundamental principles of energy use and conservation. Students learn best when engaged in inquiry learning — and the activities and explorations included in the program allow them to think, explore, share, and develop a profound respect for energy and the world around them. We know that teaching others helps us learn as well and the Kids Teaching Kids philosophy woven throughout The NEED Project curriculum helps keep students of all learning styles engaged and excited to learn. The lessons and projects in this program are designed to allow students to teach their peers as well as their local community.

We hope you will join us for this exciting opportunity!

Offerings for School Year 2023-2024

  • Teacher Training Workshops on a variety of energy topics – including the Science of Energy, Forms and Transformations, Energy Sources, Electricity, Transportation, Climate Science and Energy Efficiency. Workshops include substitute reimbursement or stipend for Saturday workshops.
  • Teacher selected energy kits and classroom curriculum valued at over $1,000.
  • Opportunity for a mini-grant of up to $400 available via application to support additional ESP supplies or resources for the classroom.
  • Opportunity for an ESP Energy Fair kit and $200 Amazon e-gift card to help students in hosting a school or community STEM/Energy Fair to share their knowledge.
  • Resources for direct to student content – YouTube and Instagram Live sessions that connect to an ESP content area – electricity, solar, wind, efficiency, nuclear, as well as links to energy videos, virtual tours and more.
  • Student Energy Team Trainings for small group of students (clubs) with NEED’s Certified Energy Manager and other staff on managing energy use in the school (and in the home). Topics can include general energy, energy efficiency, engineering, and more.
  • Opportunities to request partner company volunteers to chat with students to learn more about energy topics and energy careers.
  • ESP-Wide Energy Innovation Challenge for students to “opt in” for participation within a class or individually.

Have questions about the program? Email

2023 – 2024 Program Resources

ESP Site Login
ESP Program Welcome & Details
Multimedia Release

Illinois Solar Schools
Morton Arboretum Virtual Resources
2023-2024 Exelon Innovation Challenge Sign Up (coming soon)
Apply for the ESP Mini-Grant (optional)

Energy Fair Box Sign Up (optional)
Energy Fair Box – What’s Inside? and Copies Included
Energy Fair Poster Template
Energy Fair Planning Tips (PPT) 
Educational Energy Audit Sign Up – Email if you would like to participate!
What is an Energy Audit? (
PowerPoint) & Virtual Energy Audit Option (PDF)
Teacher Evaluation (Coming Spring 2024)

Student Evaluation (Coming Spring 2024)

Final Project Submission – Submit a few slides, PDF, or short video with link of your students engaged in the ESP Program to

ESP IL/IN SmugMug Photo Gallery

Curriculum Resources

NEED Curriculum Guides – Science of Energy, Solar, Wind, Oil and Natural Gas, Nuclear, Energy Management, and MORE!
Illinois Electric Connections
Energy Information Administration, Illinois Data
Additional Resources and Links from Partners & Sponsors
Evaluation and Assessment
NGSS Correlation and Support
Science of Electricity
Energy Expo
Interactive Energy Simulations
Excellent Energy Engineering
Digital Presentations