“Energizing Our World” strengthens sustainable energy education


Katherine Arnold, Staff Reporter

The 2019 Energizing Our World camp took a strong step towards promoting sustainability and the education of young students about how to make the world a more environmentally-friendly place through better energy practices. From June 17-20, students aged 11-15 interacted with hands-on learning opportunities and a strong team of individuals dedicated to spreading positivity through sustainability education.  

The camp featured seven content sessions, each focusing on a different topic revolving around sustainable energy. Energy Exploration, Hydropower, Wind Power and Solar Power were a few sessions that explored their own type of energy. Each session was geared to be a step towards creating a prototype that successfully utilized different kinds of sustainable energy. 

Their field trip to the Holland Energy Park is designed to show every student what a real version of sustainable energy looks like. The park is uniquely able to demonstrate multiple types of power: natural gas, coal, wind, biomass and even landfill gas. With a grand total of 16 percent of their energy arising from these power sources, it serves as a place for kids to learn more about which practices can make energy more sustainable. 

After the varied content sessions and the field trip, the students worked in “Innovation Labs” to work through the Design Thinking process. These labs utilized the “Innovator’s Compass,” a tested method of separating a problem into different parts (principles, observations, ideas, and experiments) in order to better organize a group’s thoughts before brainstorming what needs to happen next. 

The Innovation Labs are co-lead by Ginger Rowher, who works with the Regional Math and Science Center for Energizing Our World. She said she also works to “connect multiple organizations outside Grand Valley State University to strengthen STEM education in the region.”

Rowher said she also loves working with the children as they learn new things and grow throughout the experience. 

The content sessions, the field trip and Innovation Labs were vital parts of an experience that led each participating student towards the final projects displayed on June 20. There, they presented their work in the form of prototypes of self-sustaining communities — ones that combined all of their gained experience into what it takes to make something sustainable, energy efficient and successful. 

The project presentations are combined with a Career Fair, where campers can discover what kinds of fields exist involving sustainable energy. There was also a take-home activity for the students to pursue renewable sources of energy through the topic question, “If you were stranded in a remote location, how might you power it?” which encouraged them to use their new knowledge outside of the camp. 

Energizing Our World brings students from several local schools to come together and understand just what it means to advocate for a better world, especially through methods of sustainable energy and problem solving. With the help of amazing faculty, student counselors, and the student’s families, GVSU is working towards spreading education farther than ever before.