News Release: Glenwood Springs Teacher Recognized for Renewable Energy Efforts

Nov. 21, 2008 | By David Glickson | Contact media relations

Students taking science classes at Yampah Mountain High School in Glenwood Springs, Colo., are learning about energy efficiency and renewable energy in a hands-on way. The students are learning about energy issues within their school and community through direct development and design of energy projects that benefit their school.  Susy Ellison, a science teacher at Yampah Mountain High School, has championed these unique programs that introducestudents to the world of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies.

Her outstanding efforts have earned Ellison the annual Renewable Energy Teacher Award from the U.S.  Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

“This is a great honor and I’m very flattered,” Ellison said. “These types of awards are instrumental in recognizing people who are trying new and exciting things by bringing real life into the classroom.”

The Renewable Energy Teacher Award recognizes high school teachers who demonstrate exemplary science teaching in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Ellison’s curriculum includes topics such as energy conservation and the use of renewable energy resources.  Students have the opportunity to explore each of these topics and complete projects within each of the areas. 

Projects in the class have included designing and building a straw bale classroom, installing a 1kw photovoltaic solar array to power the classroom, and teaching students how to design a larger photovoltaic system for the school then going out and raising the funds to get the system purchased and installed.  Additionally, she has taught the students about energy efficiency applications by having them conduct extensive energy audits on the school building and determining what changes could be made to make the school more energy efficient. 

In addition to teaching students at Yampah Mountain High School, Ellison is a co-instructor for a teacher-training series called “Renewable Energy for Educators,” which is conducted by Solar Energy International in Carbondale, Colo.

“Susy’s enthusiasm and drive to teach the next generation of consumers as well as her fellow educators will have lasting value and deserves to be recognized with this award,” said Linda Lung, Education Program Coordinator for NREL.

The award was presented at the Colorado Science Teachers Convention Banquet on Nov. 20. As part of the Colorado Science Teachers Convention, NREL’s Education Programs conducted a teacher workshop: “Renewable Energy in the Classroom.”  Teachers learned how to improve science literacy in the classroom in the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy through topical curriculum and hands-on activities.

NREL’s Education Programs develops and implements energy science programs that engage the young minds of future leaders, scientists and engineers, cultivates partnerships with schools and community organizations and offers opportunities to teachers that revitalize their research interests and skills while giving them additional classroom science applications and technical content.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.