EPICenter's Summer Camp Energizes High Schoolers at the Tech Campus
Jul 24, 2023 — Atlanta, GA
The summer of 2023 has just been energized! The Energy, Policy, and Innovation Center (EPICenter) hosted the 2023 cohort of "Energy Unplugged," an energy-themed Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) camp for high school students at the Georgia Tech campus. Rich Simmons, director of Research and Studies at the Strategic Energy Institute (SEI) along with graduate students Jake Churchill and Nia McKenzie, led 21 campers in hands-on activities and demonstrations involving solar panels, batteries, catapults, steam engines, and remote-control cars. The students were exposed to a wide variety of topics including renewable and non-renewable energy, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, energy production and delivery, environmental impacts, and equitable electricity access. Campers gained insights into how a STEAM-oriented education can lead to exciting career paths in energy.
During the week of June 12-16, 2023, the camp was hosted in the bio-inspired makerspace at the Kendeda building, an ideal site to learn about energy. The camp kicked off with an educational tour of the ultra-efficient and sustainable Kendeda building that produces more energy than it consumes, turns wasted water into a resource, and utilizes reclaimed materials. Launching right into activities, campers were introduced to energy storage and transformation by constructing catapults and using physics to predict projectile flight distance. Next, students measured the energy consumption of household appliances and estimated their annual energy usage. A camp highlight was the remote-controlled car race on Tech Green, where campers competed to balance both being the fastest and the most energy efficient.
The camp partnered with Georgia Power to provide expert guided tours of two local generation facilities. Campers went on a field trip to Plant McDonough-Atkinson, a combined cycle natural gas plant that powers the homes of 1.7 million Atlantans, and Morgan Falls, a hydroelectric dam constructed in 1904. Students saw firsthand the sources of electricity they use every day. Parents joined as the week wrapped up with “shark-tank” style team presentations where campers applied their knowledge to develop an entrepreneurial approach to delivering basic energy services to off-grid communities in Haiti and Africa.
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 the faculty and students of Georgia Tech 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, and 200 schools in over 75 school districts throughout the state of Georgia.
The Energy, Policy, and Innovation Center (EPICenter) operates as a division of the Strategic Energy Institute at the Georgia Institute of Technology. It was created to provide an unbiased and interdisciplinary framework for stimulating innovation in energy policy and technology for the Southeast region. Although based on the campus of Georgia Tech, the center will tap into regional and national expertise within academia, businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGO), and research facilities.