Rethink Energy Florida empowers Florida youth with outreach education on sustainability using LUV

ReThink Energy Florida (REF)'s mission is to educate, engage, and empower Floridians to achieve energy independence for a healthier, more sustainable environment through youth education, adult outreach, and community organizing. Their STEM-based programs emphasize educating youth on environmental issues and teaching skills they will need in the future. REF was selected as a recipient for the Lifting Underrepresented Voices (LUV) grant from the National Science Policy Network.


  1. How will you be using your LUV Grant?

The LUV Grant will help provide supplies for ReThink Energy Florida’s (REF) STEM-based educational outreach program, specifically to Sabal Palm Elementary, a Community Partnership School that serves students in an underserved community. The LUV Grant will provide field journals, solar bugs, beakers, heat lamps, and light bulbs that will support some of the activities we have planned.

  1. How did this group or project come to be?

We have been collaborating with Sabal Palm Elementary by providing educational services to students and acting as an additional community resource for teachers. It is our hope that students will engage more deeply with Science and Technology specific to environmental science and energy technology. Through this engagement, we hope to inspire a love of science and weaving of science into our students’ lives.

Students doing some environmental science outreach.

 

In its role as a Community Partnership School, Sabal Palm Elementary brings needed community resources into the school to achieve the vision that all students, regardless of background, have an equitable opportunity to achieve academic success and positive life outcomes. With the inclusion of our school outreach program, REF shall offer, in the fall of 2021, in-person classroom visits that allow us to teach students in Sabal Palm Elementary and the Leon County Public School system environmental and energy science through curriculum-based, experiential activities.

 

An example of a presentation focuses on defining non-renewable versus renewable energy, centering on solar energy, which is the main form of energy related to the activity. The activity allows students to color and create solar-powered insects (solar bugs!) that take to movement when placed in the sun. As previously witnessed, young students love this activity and absolutely light up when their hand-built bug goes from being still to moving on its own!

A young girl with a finished solar bug.

We’ve designed our programs to be exciting ways for students to interact with renewable energy and each other throughout this year. We want to ensure students have access to engaging STEM education and hands-on learning by making and building connections with local schools and communities that value STEM education and could benefit from our program.

  1. Do you have any advice for others who would like to implement a similar project?

One thing we’ve found as we’ve implemented our STEM Science Program in the 2020-21 school year, is that teachers and administrators are exceptionally busy. We had the most success in making connections through groups and organizations that were connected to the schools already.

 

We are also happy to share our curriculum with anyone who requests it. Interested groups can request it by emailing youth.outreach@rethinkenergyflorida.org.

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