Alabama Energy Transformation Initiative
The Alabama Energy Transformation Initiative (AETI) is a cross-sector collaborative project between Energy Alabama, The University of Alabama, and the Alabama Industrial Assessment Center. AETI was funded by the US Department of Energy as part of the American Made Challenge and the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize. AETI activities aimed to build inclusive and just pathways to a clean energy economy by providing clean energy science and management education to students historically underrepresented in STEM.
A total of 102 students participated in AETI in our first year, including 18 college students and 84 high school students. The majority of students were members of communities historically underrepresented in STEM: female-identifying, Black/African American, and Hispanic. Within this group, eight college students joined Alabama’s Industrial Assessment Center (AIAC) and gained highly sought-after energy assessment and management skills. AIAC students conducted site assessments and prepared energy efficiency recommendations for local manufacturers. Additionally, ten college students worked as mentors in the Energy in Action program where they planned lessons and taught clean energy to 84 high school students. Mentors bestowed greater knowledge and passion for sustainability to the students and teachers they worked with.
Why is this work important?
- Alabama graduation requirements only mandate 1 credit in biology and 1 credit in physical science (chemistry, physics, physical science).
- Environmental science, where most clean energy standards are taught, is offered as an elective and not required.
- Science and energy literacy enables students to be conscious consumers of electricity, which is a vital skill in a state with high rates of electricity consumption and associated energy burden.
- Alabama ranks among the top 10 states for highest total industrial sector energy use, and its industrial sector accounts for slightly more than two-fifths of the state’s total energy consumption.
- Clean energy and workforce needs are high among Alabama’s industrial sector to reduce energy expenses for the state’s many manufacturers.
AETI seeks to bolster the state’s clean energy workforce and build inclusive and just pathways to a clean energy economy by equipping students with knowledge and skills that empower them to actively participate in the transition to clean energy.
AETI developed the Energy Assessment training program by leveraging the expertise, resources, and network of local small and medium-sized enterprises from AIAC.
- 8 college students joined AIAC
- Trained students to take part in industrial energy assessment projects
- Gained highly sought-after skills: electricity bill analysis, energy efficiency mechanisms, calculations of equipment energy usage
- Tactical learning through industrial assessment field trips and practice with AIAC equipment (thermal imagers, data loggers, hand held tachometers, light meters)
If you are interested in learning more about Alabama’s Industrial Assessment Center or connecting with their faculty, you may find more information on the IAC website at https://iac.ua.edu/.
Energy in Action
Energy is Action was developed from previous iterations of the program implemented in Huntsville, Alabama. Energy Alabama staff would go into each high school 2-3 times each semester to present clean energy lessons to students at two high schools.
- Columbia High School from 2016 to 2017
- New Century High School from 2018-2022
Building on these programs, Energy Alabama staff members utilized a mentor-mentee relationship between UA undergraduates and 84 high school students to enhance high schoolers’ interest in and knowledge of clean energy topics.
- 10 college students served as mentors
- Mentors trained to design lessons for high school students including an educational lecture and age-appropriate activities
Mentors visited Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa County and Hale County High School in groups of 2-3 during general and Advanced Placement environmental science classes
- Served as lead instructors: teaching subject matter, demonstrating activities, engaging with mentee students
- Lessons introduced different academic and career paths related to clean energy
One teacher claims, “sparked [high school students’] attention. It was great to hear all the career paths of our presenters.”
Our team conducted surveys with high school student participants to examine to what extent the provision of clean energy education influenced their energy literacy – composed of knowledge, attitudes (e.g., a sense of moral obligation to reduce energy usage, the recognition of the importance of energy education, etc.), and behaviors (e.g., adopting energy-saving behaviors in their daily lives, etc.) – toward clean energy and interests in STEM. Pre- and post-program surveys were conducted with participants in the energy education sessions.
Energy in Action Lesson Plans
The development of all lessons for AETI’s Energy in Action program is credited to student mentors hired from The University of Alabama. Mentors were guided through the lesson planning and presentation design process, during which they learned effective pedagogy and strategies for engaging high school students in hands-on activities. You can learn more about AETI student mentors at https://aeti.ua.edu/energy-in-action.html.
Energy in Action lessons and presentations are publicly available to view and download at no cost. Suggested activity supplies are available for purchase here.
- Why Care About Energy
- Renewable Energy
- Energy Conservation and Efficiency
- Building Sciences
- Electric Transportation
For questions regarding Energy in Action lessons and activities, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.