RE 100: Introduction to Renewable Energy   

For students 12yrs and beyond! This is a free 10-lesson online course complete with videos, readings, quizzes exercises and discussion forums. The course is written at the high school level with lessons in energy efficiency, solar thermal, solar electric, wind, microhydro, renewable energy in the developing world and the economics of renewable energy.

We highly encourage teachers to take this course and evaluate it as curriculum to be used with students. This course is now also available EN ESPANOL.



Engineering a Solar Cellphone Charger- NSTA

This curriculum is one unit in an upcoming release of SEI’s popular introductory course PV101 curriculum tailored for high school students. Students can take this as an accelerated 1-semester
or full-year SEI Solar Energy Training for High Schools leading to an SEI certificate in introductory solar electric design and installation.

Please read the “teacher overview” for a materials list, day-by-day plan, NGSS alignment and reflections about classroom implementation.

Teacher Notes (Read First)
Introduction (optional)
Phase 1: Problem Definition
Phase 2: Design exploration
Phase 3: Optimization Azimuth
Phase 3: Optimization Angle
Phase 3: Optimization Temperature
Phase 4: Communication

The Engineering Design process utilized in this unit was developed by senior fellows in the Knowles Teacher Initiative. For more engineering lessons and training in engineering design please check out the Knowles Academy

Please contact Ben Graves or Kate Miller for more information on this unit. Please contact Katie Shirey for more information on the Knowles Academy.

SEI is in the process of licensing the PV101 High School course to interested teachers and school districts. Please contact Breccia Cressman for more information about licensing the full PV 101 course for High School Students.

SEI’s Solar In the Schools (SIS) outreach program starts off its fall season of renewable energy labs with regional 8th grade students. Students arrive at SEI’s lab facility in Paonia, CO for a full day of introductory solar energy activities. Students are engaged in hands-on solar energy lab stations which include lessons and activities in energy efficiency, measuring power, solar orientation, solar site analysis, testing properties of a photovoltaic cell, and solar art.


SEI is committed to engaging Colorado High School students to learn more about Renewable Energy!

High School is a critical time of transition in a young adult’s life whether he/she is going on to college, entering the workforce or enlisting in the military. SEI is focused on helping create technical career pathways for youth to excel in whichever direction life takes them.

Specifically, the SIS High School pilot program is focused on training a young workforce for jobs after High School. SEI is committed to delivering concurrent post-secondary training for a young workforce in preparation for the solar jobs of tomorrow.

SEI’s industry-recognized Certificate of Completion is awarded to a successful student after finishing our most popular course, Introduction to Photovoltaics. This is the same training adults receive. A student can take this education to a company and be hired at the introductory level, launching a career in the solar industry!

If a student would like to learn even more about technical photovoltaics he/she could enroll in our comprehensive professional Certificate Program.


SIS loves to attends festivals, fairs and career days please invite us to yours! – We’ll pack our SIS PV-van with fun hands-on teaching equipment and demos.

SIS loans out renewable energy training equipment to teachers for classrooms. Our library includes:

Solar Cell Set – with this set students become familiar with the properties of a photovoltaic cell, the photovoltaic effect and conditions which affect pv cells
Energy Audit Kit – with this kit students measure how much power various devices use to determine their energy efficiency
Solar Power Monitor – students can build and test several solar circuits, wire solar modules in series and parallel to change voltage and amperage


SEI’s Solar In the Schools has teamed up with Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Teaching Environmental Science Naturally (TEN) program to integrate renewable energy science and PV labs in an outdoor classroom setting. This one day training at SEI’s lab facility in Paonia, CO is packed with fun hands-on lessons and vital renewable energy teaching theory. This training is also a great opportunity to network with energy-conscious teachers from across the region.. Training topics include sun orientation, passive solar design, solar electricity, and solar cooking.

Dates are posted in April.

This is an interactive and hands-on presentation. Students will learn where our energy comes from at a local, national, and global scale. They will see and feel energy conservation and efficiency at work with hands-on activities and experiment with solar cells to turn electric motors and power small toys. This is offered as an in-classroom presentation to your school. Can be tailored to grade level. Please contact us for details.

Initiatives and Partnerships

Many thanks to our generous partners!

Teaching Environments Naturally Program partnered with SEI to Bring K-12 Classrooms to our PV lab facility in Paonia, Colorado. The TEN program assists teachers in taking their students outdoors for academically powerful field trips and to connect students to their local natural and cultural resources. The TEN program leadership and local teachers were enthusiastic to partner with Solar In the Schools and selected SEI’s PV lab facility in Paonia, Colorado as one of their primary field trip sites. TEN is helping SIS with funding for equipment and dollar-for-dollar transportation matching funds to participating teachers and classes.

El Pomar Foundation has helped expand the SIS program to include hands-on technical labs to junior high school students and to establish a scholarship program for high school students through our Professionals Certification Program so that they can be active participants in the new energy economy.

Delta County Joint School District No. 50 is partnering with SEI to create career and technical programs for high school students. SIS is piloting high school programs that bridge renewable energy education and economic growth.

SEI’s training facility and headquarters is located in the heart of the declining coal mining region in Western Colorado – we are working to provide students opportunities in the growing solar industry.

DMEA has been an invaluable partner in bringing solar education to K-12 students in the region. With DMEA’s support the SIS program has been able to deliver energy presentations to over 5,000 students in the last 5 years.

SEI and DMEA are working on developing renewable energy generation at local schools through installations of PV systems supported by technical solar energy curriculum.



Alliance for Climate Education (ACE)  A Complete and well organized website of information and links. This also is a great organization for school presentations on climate change and supports proactive action from students. Worth lots of time!

Climate Crisis – “An Inconvenient Truth” homepage.  Lots of good tips.

National Resource Defense Council – The National Resource Defense Council FAQ’s on Global Warming and what we can do about it.

Climate Change – The Campus Climate leverages the power of young people to organize on college campuses and high schools across Canada and the U.S. to win 100% Clean Energy policies at their schools.

Learn More About Climate features six short educational films about climate change in Colorado and three model lessons for middle and high school teachers.

Union of Concerned Scientists – the Union of Concerned Scientists, a coalition of citizens and scientists for environmental solutions, offers more technical papers, facts, and solutions appropriate for high school students.


Aspen Canary Initiative – “Calculate your Cox emissions” page.  This site also promotes energy conservation by listing many things you can do at home.

EPA Energy Profiler -Enter your zip code into this power profiler and see where your energy actually comes from, emissions, and how that compares to national averages.

Class Room Earth -Energy Audit Lab designed for high school AP classe.

8th Grade pic

Creative Change This is the best curriculum resource for teachers (2011).  Combining all educational diciplines and audiences with a common theme of sustainability and social equity.  Wholistic education that understands the need to retell the story of our history and humanity from the perspective of environmental sustainability and conscientious social behavior.  WOW!

Facing The Future Workbook – Engaging Students through Global Issues: Real World Math

Green Teacher – wow, you should know about GreenTeacher.  SEI carries some of their curriculum for sale.  This is a collaborative effort of teachers all around North America.  Their lesson plans address all different learning styles, and they are usually hands-on, creative, and impactful.

Energy Teachers – this site gives teachers the latest links and bibliographies on energy related lessons.  This is a great diverse and independent resource for teachers.

U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Education This is a good resource for teachers looking for lesson plans, scholarships, volunteer, jobs and more.  Searchable and indexed.

No Impact Project – This curriculum uses No Impact Man – the book and the film – to help middle and high school students explore the effects their everyday behavior has on the environment, their health, and their well-being.  I like this site, practical, empowering, and up to date (2011)

Wisconsin Renewable Energy Program – Wisconsin’s K-12 Renewable Energy Education program.  This site has a wealth of information for everyone!

Population Education CD-ROM – Earth Matters: Studies for Our Global Future.

U.S. Energy Information Administration -Independent statistics and analysis on energy in the U.S. Has LOTS of information, and plenty of graphs, charts, and maps that can be used in lession plans or projects.

Classroom Earth -Designed for high school teachers, this website includes resources, lesson plans, and other ideas on how to incorporate environmental topics into science curriculum, a wealth of information.

Energy Conservation Curriculum – The Bonneville Power Association’s 3rd – 8th grade curriculum for energy conservation.  A great resource for North West region educators.

Oil Consumption Poster – Resources for teachers on energy consumption and carbon footprint activities.  You can also sign up to receive a free poster on world oil consumption at their home page.  This poster is worth the time to ask!

Florida Solar Energy Center – Find classroom activities, a calendar of events, kits, competitions, continuing education opportunities, and general information on renewables.

Solar Schoolhouse – Out of California, this organization offers curriculum and solar kits for sale while offering accredited teacher training workshops in Renewable Energy for teachers throughout the country.

National Energy Education Development (NEED) – A project that creates networks of teachers and students interested in promoting an energy conscious society while offering free grade specific curriculum and kits for sale.  It should be noted that Need is funded by Conoco Philips and is biased towards fossil fuel energy production.


Kidwind – Kidwind is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving science education while introducing curriculum for wind power.  In addition to providing student geared wind power kits, Kidwind is a great resource for teachers wanting to take accredited workshops on teaching about wind power.

Science Shareware – this site tells you how to build a human powered bicycle generator for your classroom


Solar Cooking – everything you would ever want to know about solar cooking and making your own solar ovens!!!
Solar Household Energy – expansive website on solar cooking on a global level

Solar Cooking Wiki – frequently asked solar cooking questions and answers


Pitsco Education Resources – A complete resource for grants: grant applications, tips, searchable index, and more,  lots of federal education grant links!!

Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency – this site gives state by state financial incentives for homeowners and businesses which implement renewable energy.

BP Energy Education Grant – BP Solar’s A+ for Energy grants for Teachers (due in spring). -$1500 grants for social studies teachers.


Building Green Schools – the US Green Building Council’s “How to Build Green Schools” and tons of other green building resources.

Climate Change initiatives – The Campus Climate leverages the power of young people to organize on college campuses and high schools across Canada and the U.S. to win 100% Clean Energy policies at their schools.

International  Action on Climate Change and Renewable Energy

Australian Government Climate Change  Resources that help teachers and students understand and act on Climate Change issues affecting the continent.


“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
Thomas Edison, 1931
“The use of solar energy offers huge potential for natural resource and climate protection, and for the expansion of renewable energies on the road to a future-oriented energy supply.”
Margareta Wolf, 2004
In a single hour, the amount of power from the sun that strikes the Earth is more than the entire world consumes in one year. We have a source of unlimited clean energy in the form of solar power – we just need to capture it!

The exciting news is: YOUR generation has a great chance to use solar energy!!

If you keep learning and thinking more about energy and how you use it, and keep bugging your parents and your teachers and your congress people about it, maybe by the time you’re our age, everyone will be using solar energy!