EPICenter Hosts Two Energy Unplugged STEAM Camps: Savannah and Atlanta
Jul 12, 2022 — Atlanta, GA
The Summer of 2022 is off to an energetic start! The Energy, Policy, and Innovation Center (EPICenter) hosted two week-long cohorts of "Energy Unplugged," an energy-themed STEAM camp for 35 high school students. Dr. Rich Simmons and Strategic Energy Institute fellow Azell Francis engaged with collaborators from around the state, and led the campers in hands-on interactive demonstrations and experiments involving solar panels, batteries, catapults, water rockets, and remote-control cars. The first camp was held on the Georgia Tech Savannah campus, and the second on the Georgia Tech main campus in Atlanta. Both camps covered both renewable and non-renewable energy sources, energy production and delivery, environmental impacts, equity, and global electricity access. Campers gained insights into how a STEAM-oriented education can be a path that leads to an exciting and successful career in energy.
During the week of June 13 - 17, 2022, GT Savannah was host to a very engaged group of campers. Launching right into activities, the students built and tested catapults, integrating important physics and math concepts into hands-on fun. Next up was the water rocket design challenge, where they showcased their creativity to achieve maximum height and distance. The City of Savannah’s Office of Sustainability displayed their electric vehicle, and shared perspectives on local sustainability initiatives. A highlight of both summer camps was field trip day! The campers visited Georgia Power’s Plant McIntosh, which is a combined cycle gas turbine plant, and the Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, where the G6 and G7 aircraft are assembled. The week ended too soon, but not before the camp students raced to the finish line driving a re-engineered remote-control electric car, and in true Georgia Tech fashion, hearing the steam engine whistle blow.
Simmons and Francis brought the Energy Unplugged fun to GT Atlanta during the week of June 21 – 24, 2022. The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design served as an ideal instructional backdrop for the camp. The Living Building, as it is often called, is certified to generate more energy than it consumes, collect, capture, and process more water than it consumes, and, to the greatest extent possible, be regenerative, rather than consumptive. Hands-on learning remained a key pillar of the camp, conducting experiments with micro-grids and solar panels. The group also had the opportunity to visit Georgia Power’s Morgan Falls Hydroelectric Plant which began commercial operations in 1904, and GE Power’s Monitoring and Diagnostics Center, where more than 500 GW of gas turbine power plants are monitored. The week wrapped up with “shark-tank” style team presentations where campers took an entrepreneurial approach to delivering basic energy services to off-grid communities in the developing world.
Energy Unplugged is administered by Georgia Tech Summer P.E.A.K.S. (Program for Enrichment and Accelerated Knowledge in STEAM) at CEISMC (the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing). CEISMC serves as the primary connection point between Georgia Tech faculty and students and the preK-12 STEAM education community, reducing the barriers between kids and higher education. Annually, CEISMC programs impact more than 39,000 students, 1,700 teachers, 200 schools in over 75 school districts throughout the state of Georgia.
Brent Verrill, Research Communications Program Manager, SEI