Katy ISD Teachers Awarded Grant to Visit Scandinavia and Learn About Renewable Energy Sources

Griffin Elementary School GT Teacher Nancy Hess and former McRoberts Elementary School GT Teacher Lesli Edge.

By Mika Rao Kalapatapu

Griffin Elementary School GT Teacher Nancy Hess and former McRoberts Elementary School GT Teacher Lesli Edge spent part of the summer in Scandinavia exploring renewable energy sources and have brought back this knowledge to Katy ISD students.  Their trip was made possible through a grant from Fund for Teachers, a non-profit organization that awards fellowships for self-designed professional growth to teachers who recognize the value of inquiry, the power of knowledge, and their ability to make a difference.

“Knowing that our next unit of challenge would focus on economics, ecosystems, and energy, Lesli and I put together a grant – including future lesson plans – that would allow us to gather knowledge about how other countries are utilizing renewable energy sources to conserve a precious resource,” shared Hess. “We discovered that there is a whole lot of energy everywhere. The trick is to find the right balance when tapping into it.”

The Katy ISD GT teachers were among a very select group chosen by Fund for Teachers, and they set off for a three-week trip to the Scandinavian countries of Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Sixty-seven Houston-area teachers were selected for grants this year, and this is the second time both Hess and  Edge have been awarded a fellowship.

“Nancy and I found Scandinavia to be a hidden treasure in so many different ways,” said Edge, who is now a librarian at Wolman Elementary School. “There is a conscious effort to conserve energy while at the same time explore opportunities to tap into renewable energies at every turn. Hot water heats most floors in the homes and biogas and ethanol were readily available for use in all modes of transportation. We saw our first electric car parking lot with many cars plugged into the electrical posts. Many of the ideas that we talk about as future possibilities in the U.S. are actually in practice in these countries now.”

The teachers set up a blog and encouraged students to follow their journey during the summer.  Now back, they are completing books featuring their respective school mascots as they learn first-hand about energy conservation. Back at home, Hess and Edge also found numerous educational kits and were able to purchase these for their schools using grant money.

“We are now in the process of compiling a trunk of materials which will be shared with children throughout the district,” shared Hess. “Because they are the future generation, we want our students to become more familiar with how renewable and non-renewable energy sources can work together for the future. It is our hope that they will consider the carbon footprint they are leaving for the next generation and think more globally rather than locally.”

To learn more about Hess and Edge’s educational adventure, read their blog http://scandinaviaacarbonfootprintsnapshot.blogspot.com. To learn more about Fund for Teachers, visit http://www.fundforteachers.org.