CCCC hosts successful STEM Educator Solar Institute

Pittsboro, NC – Eleven educators attended the STEM Educator Solar Institute sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the CREATE Energy Center June 27-29 at Central Carolina Community College’s Chatham Main Campus in Pittsboro, N.C.

Participants explored hands-on classroom lab activities that bring solar energy to life for students. (Source: CCCC)

Participants and the schools they represent were: Kellie Buchanan (Holly Springs High School), Ann Castillo (Clyde A. Erwin High School), Alison Hooker (East Surry High School), Amy Jessup (East Surry High School), Bree Kerwin (Seaforth High School), Janet Mitchell (Eckerd Connects), Kimberly Oakley (New Century Middle School), Denise Renfro (Douglas Byrd High School), Joe Roche (Wor Wic Community College), Richard Strohecker (Richmond Community College), and David Zimmer (IC Imagine).

Instructors included Andy McMahan (Central Carolina Community College), Jennifer Clemons (Delaware Technical Community College), Scott Liddicoat (Wisconsin Public Service Corporation), and Joel Shoemaker (Madison Area Technical College).

“The camp has been very well received,” said McMahan. “We have an audience that is able to take what we’re teaching and apply it however it will fit in their classes. I’m really excited about what we’re doing.”

The Solar Institute is intended to provide high school and community college educators with an opportunity to learn about curriculum resources the CREATE Center has developed for educators, gain experience using tools of the solar trade, and learn ways they might be able to incorporate solar energy lessons into their own classrooms. To facilitate the adoption of lessons they learn over the three-day workshop, participants receive an equipment stipend to help purchase materials they would need to bring the hands-on experiences to their students.

 “It’s really fun to teach other teachers,” said Clemons. “They’re learning some really great stuff. … It’s a really great opportunity.”

Instructors explored fundamental solar and electrical principles, and learned processes to ensure electrical safety and code compliance – and even learned how drones are being used throughout the solar industry. During the Institute, participants also explored hands-on classroom lab activities that bring solar energy to life for students and shared strategies and techniques for teaching students.

According to the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census, the solar workforce more than doubled from 93,000 jobs in 2010, to over 250,000 jobs in 2020. 

The National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program supports the development of innovative approaches for educating skilled technicians for the industries that drive the nation’s economy. The CREATE Energy Center strengthens connections between high schools and community colleges to help promote career pathways and provide a skilled technical workforce for the clean energy sector.

The CREATE Energy Center is led by Madison Area Technical College, College of the Canyons, Indian River State College, Central Carolina Community College, and Delaware Technical Community College.