An Interactive K-12 Engineering Curriculum on Renewable Sources and Energy Storage in Power Systems

Sebestik, J., Zhu, Q.

Annual Conference of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), San Antonio, TX, June 10-13, 2012.

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The success of modernizing the U.S. electrical grid depends on research, engineering, and policy, but also, on the education and acceptance of electricity consumers. In this paper we introduce K-­12 power engineering education
curriculum material that focuses the benefits and challenges that come with integrating renewable resources and the impact of energy storage technology. The curriculum aims to provide information about current and future electricity generation and delivery systems and to engage students who may pursue careers in related industries.

An interactive java applet (see Fig. 1) and related lessons allow students explore effects on the power system as communities demand more power and wind generation is added or increased. They can also
investigate how the availability of large-­scale energy storage allows for the efficient use of intermittent energy sources like wind and solar. The simulation helps students understand some of the complexities of the power grid of the future. The lessons allow students to compare residential, commercial and industrial demand and to consider how past behaviors allow power professionals to predict future use. Students can consider wind variability, transmission needs, system costs and CO2 emissions, and how the availability of energy storage may impact the system.

The course materials have been used successfully in classrooms and in community events throughout the nation. During the past year, there were over 24,000 visits to the websites associated with the curriculum. Teachers from several states have adopted the materials for their classes. Power utilities and environmental groups are also interested in our materials for customer education. The materials are available from the project website.

This paper provides examples of the materials and discusses the major engineering concepts associated with them. We also discuss our continuing efforts to disseminate these materials to educators around the world and outline future plans for further development and dissemination.

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