JONESPORT, Maine — The Island Institute, a membership-based nonprofit located in Rockland, Maine, has received a competitive $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to expand the development, implementation and evaluation of an educational model designed to increase the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competencies and career aspirations of students in rural communities. Energy for ME, which first received $50,000 last summer from Time Warner Cableâ€™s Connect a Million Minds national STEM initiative for a pilot project on North Haven and Vinalhaven islands, also received $124,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency last fall.
The overall goal of Energy for ME is to provide students with tools to help them decide their communitiesâ€™ energy futures. Working with 13 of Maineâ€™s year-round island and coastal communities, Energy for ME will directly engage at least 50 teachers, 100 students and their families to increase STEM energy-content knowledge and technology proficiencies by analyzing, discussing, and responding to locally relevant energy issues.
JBHS technology teacher Linda Church, guidance counselor Don Ficker, and student Sam Lyons spent a week at the Schoodic Education and Research Center in Winter Harbor this past August. They participated in the â€śEnergy for MEâ€ť educational program where they had the opportunity to gain hands-on, in-depth training on working with energy data, performing energy audits, GIS technology, and ethnography. Student, Sam Lyons also attended workshops on leadership skills while Mrs. Linda Church and Mr. Don Ficker gained crucial curriculum planning assistance.
As a result of this workshop and the guidance of Mrs. Lynn Alley, science teacher, the students and their families will be learning how to better understand their communitiesâ€™ energy-consumption habits, as well as how to develop effective strategies to increase energy efficiency. To do so, they will be using eMonitor energy meters to measure electricity usage at several different access points, including homes, schools and public buildings.
In partnership with PowerWise, a Blue Hill, Maine-based company providing circuit-by-circuit energy monitoring equipment, Energy for ME will provide participants with some of the most cutting-edge energy monitoring equipment available, and a custom online dashboard that will give a snapshot of the entire project in real time as electricity is flowing.
The primary goal will be to increase home and school energy efficiency through student/teacher and family-generated solutions. The students also received the tools needed to grapple with critical decisions related to energy efficiency, renewable energy and the future of energy in Maine.
JBHS will receive four eMonitors to install: at the school, in two homes, and in one public building of interest in the community, as well as other equipment such as a GPS unit and a video camera to assist in carrying out the various aspects of the project. A secure Energy for ME website will serve as a central location for gathering energy usage data from the eMonitors and provide visualizations of energy usage for each eMonitor site.
Ruth Kermish-Allen, the Instituteâ€™s education director and principal investigator of the project, expressed appreciation for this latest and largest award as well as for the grants that made the pilot project possible. â€śOur Energy for ME pilot project proved that our core project components could really excite students about STEM learning in a whole new way â€“ measuring real-time energy usage and developing energy-efficiency solutions. With NSF funding, we can expand this model to communities all along the Maine coast, and weâ€™re deeply grateful for this opportunity.â€ť
You will be hearing more about this project as the program gains momentum.
Contact Name: Linda Church
Telephone Number: (207)497-5454