Bloomington's Harmony School to implement sustainable-energy curriculum developed through Purdue, Duke Energy partnership

September 19, 2014  


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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - A partnership between Purdue University's Energy Center in Discovery Park and Duke Energy Corp. is helping schools across Indiana develop and implement energy-related lesson plans for students in their classrooms.

This fall Harmony School in Bloomington will teach a project-based class focused on sustainable energy with curriculum materials developed in conjunction with the annual Duke Energy Academy at Purdue. The elective course for high school and middle school students begins on Monday (Sept. 22), and Harmony School will celebrate its 40th anniversary on Sept. 26-28.

"This step by Harmony School is another example of the demonstrated impact the Duke Energy Academy at Purdue is having in the classroom for our students and teachers alike," said Purdue Energy Center director Maureen McCann, a professor of biological sciences. "We are excited that our partnership with Duke Energy is translating into innovative learning tools to inspire our teachers in Indiana for preparing the next generation of leaders for our energy economy."

Harmony teacher Emily Sprowls, who attended this summer's program at Purdue, said her physical science class is for students in grades 7-12 and has been offered since 2010 in collaboration with various local organizations such as Duke Energy, Audubon, Toyota, Solar Systems of Indiana and Atomic Electric.

"Our goal is to introduce students to the concepts of energy and thermodynamics by using an engineering-design process to build, test and evaluate solar ovens," Sprowls said. "As the first lesson of the course, the students will see the scope and scale of local and global energy issues and participate in hands-on, experiential learning."

Harmony students will monitor solar panels that prior students in the course installed at the school, she said. They also will conduct an energy audit and visit electrical generation facilities.  "The engineering-design process used to build solar ovens will be mirrored at the end of the course when students build windmill blade prototypes, following the model demonstrated at the Duke Energy Academy at Purdue," she said.

Purdue and Duke Energy have partnered since 2012 to offer the annual Duke Energy Academy at Purdue, which provides an immersive weeklong experience for 84 students and teachers in hands-on activities, tours and research projects exploring energy-related issues and careers. Participating teachers also receive resources on energy and STEM education - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - that they can incorporate into their schools.

"We see this partnership with Harmony School through the Duke Energy Academy at Purdue as the continuation of a strong and fruitful partnership with the Purdue Energy Center in Discovery Park and its commitment to growing interest in the STEM disciplines among students and teachers," said Duke Energy Indiana President Doug Esamann.

Registration is now open for the summer 2015 Duke Energy Academy at Purdue, which runs from June 21-27. Participation is free for the 42 students and 42 teachers selected. Teachers also receive a $400 stipend on successful completion of the program. For more information go to http://www.purdue.edu/discoverypark/energy/energyacademy/apply.php

"We are thrilled to see Duke Energy Academy at Purdue transform into real action steps in delivering energy lessons for our Indiana classrooms," said Pankaj Sharma, managing director of the Purdue Energy Center and an associate professor technology at Purdue. "We are proud to collaborate with Harmony School and Duke Energy in this proactive effort to inspire the next generation of leaders in STEM and sustainable energy."

About Purdue Energy Academy

The academy is organized by the Energy Center, focused on advancing energy sciences and engineering for sustainable energy solutions. The Energy Center is part of Purdue's Global Sustainability Institute, which was launched in Discovery Park to coordinate research efforts in sustainability challenges such as climate change, energy, food security, the environment and water. 

About Harmony School

Founded in 1974 with four students, Harmony School has educated more than 3,000 young people as an independent, nonprofit organization operating early childhood, elementary, middle, high school and community youth center programs. In 1985, the Bloomington public school system demonstrated its support by selling to Harmony, for just $10, the 25,000-square-foot historic Elm Heights School. Today, 17 faculty and staff serve 200 full-time students ranging in age from 3 to 18.

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu

Sources: Maureen McCann, 765-496-1779, mmccann@purdue.edu

Pankaj Sharma, 765-496-7452, sharma@purdue.edu

Emily Sprowls, 812-334-8349, emilysprowls@harmonyschool.org

Steve Bonchek, 812-334-8349, stevenboncheck@harmonyschool.org

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Harmony School, 909 E. 2nd St. in Bloomington, will have a media availability for its new sustainable energy class on Monday (Sept. 22). School administrators, and officials and researchers affiliated with Purdue's Energy Center as well as Duke Energy Corp. will be on hand. For more information, contact Phillip Fiorini, Purdue University-Discovery Park, pfiorini@purdue.edu, 765-427-3009.

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