Tempe Students Learn with Living Laboratories

Joanna Schroeder

You are never too old, or too young to learn about energy. Tempe Union High School District (TUHSD) and Chevron Energy Solutions have launched a cross-curricular science, technology, engineering and math (STEM – even the acronym is sciencey) and sustainability program designed to give students more knowledge about energy and environmental issues. Each campus now has a Living Laboratory where students can conduct a myriad of tests of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

Each Living Laboratory contains the usual technology, but also contains data collection devices that transmit data to a web-based telemetry system. The labs also integrate with a web-based dashboard, supporting new cross-curricular lesson planning and curriculum development.

“Tempe Union High School District discovered several years ago that studying both sustainability and energy offered an extraordinary opportunity for learning, career preparation and citizenship for our students,” said Greg Wyman, associate superintendent at Tempe Union High School District. “This significant accomplishment for our District offers an extraordinary opportunity for learning and positions our new generation to build a more diverse, energy-efficient and sustainable tomorrow.”

Many of the schools participating in the Living Laboratory program have additional renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies that will be woven into the curriculum. For example, one school has a roof-mounted solar thermal collection system, another school has a natural gas powered heat pump system, another has a natural gas powered fuel cell, another has a solar PV system, and one school is in the process of developing an energy storage system showcasing cutting-edge battery technology that will power a greenhouse.

The labs, as well as many of the energy projects were designed, engineered and implemented by Chevron Energy Solutions. “Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for environmentally sustainable operations at Tempe Union High School District – one that will allow its students, faculty and the community the opportunity to experience the benefits of combining sustainability and energy science education,” said Chevron Energy Solutions President Jim Davis. “The District has created a model for collaboration that can be replicated by other districts dedicated to investing in transformative, sustainable programs.”

Education, Electricity, energy efficiency, Environment, Solar