educational science projects, such as building a wood windmill (top) and
using mirrors to teach math (right) were part of the Summer Energy Education
Workshops, sponsored by Wesleyan’s Project to Increase Mastery of
Mathematics and Science program. Connecticut teachers learned hands-on
activities to use in their own classrooms.
PIMMS Takes Teachers Back to School
At 8:30 a.m., Rusty Gray wrapped an ice cube in thermal insulated foam,
packaging together peanuts, bubble wrap, newspaper and aluminum foil, and
placed the ice in a cooler.
Six and a half hours later, Gray removed the insulating layers and learned
her method was not an adequate way to prevent ice from thawing.
Gray, a fourth grade teacher at Mitchell Elementary School in Woodbury,
Conn. was one of 130 elementary school teachers from around Connecticut
participating in Summer Energy Education Workshops through Wesleyan’s
Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics and Science
(PIMMS). The “ice
challenge” was just one science-and-energy-related experiment taught at the
“Our ice melted the third least amount, so we did ok, but the group that
packaged their ice in sawdust did the best,” Gray explained. “And it makes
sense that sawdust would work. Remember that before refrigeration was
invented, ice was packed in an ice house with sawdust as an insulator.”
The workshops, which began July 18, are backed by eeSmarts, an energy
efficiency and clean, renewable energy learning initiative. Supported by the
Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund and administered by the United
Illuminating and Connecticut Light and Power companies, the vision of
eeSmarts is to facilitate students’ understanding of the science, math and
technology related to clean, renewable energy and electricity in order to
create an energy-efficient ethic among all school-age students in
sessions were taught by Bob Borello, associate director of science for PIMMS
(pictured at left); Karen Calechman, eeSmarts program coordinator for PIMMS;
and Barbara Austin, consultant and presenter for PIMMS. Mike Zebarth is
director of PIMMS.
“Energy efficiency is high on everyone’s priority list,” Zebarth said.
“These workshops are meant to be interactive, cross-disciplined and
activity-based lessons that teachers can use to teach children about energy
and conservation. EeSmarts gives PIMMS an opportunity to strengthen science
education while helping the environment.”
Donna Liebman, a library media specialist at the Hooker Elementary School in
Hartford (pictured below, right), enjoyed crafting a three-sided
kaleidoscope and working with various mirror experiments during the advanced
summer institute workshop July 16.
love PIMMS because they always offer such fun, educationally enriching
topics correlated to standards useful for today’s educator,” Liebman said.
“Here, we’re learning theories of science through a hands-on curriculum.
We’re learning how relevant topics can be taught in a fun way so students
can understand how to utilize concepts every day.”
During the two-day-long workshop, Liebman and her peers also experimented
with shadows and sundials, calculating rock sizes, building a motor,
building a windmill, a recycling challenge among other projects.
Harvey Pond, a fourth-grade teacher at Orchard Hills Elementary School in
Milford, Conn. has 37 years of teaching experience; however, dozens of the
experiments taught at the workshop were new to him.
“I teach energy and electronics, and I’ve always done the normal experiments
like switches and light bulbs, but here I’ve gotten so many more ideas that
will really excite the kids,” Pond said. “I’m planning on using all of them
because they are all fun experiments, and they all make you think and
question what it is you’re doing.”
Funding for the
eeSmarts program is derived
from the monthly “Combined Public Benefits Charge” on consumers’ electric
By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection