NextEra Energy Resources, the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and the sun, on Monday provided 1,500 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) kits to 10 high schools in the state, including seven in Northwest Oklahoma.

The company invested approximately $26,000 to provide the 1,500 STEM education kits to Enid, Chisholm, Kremlin-Hillsdale, Alva, Aline-Cleo, Timberlake, Cimarron, Balko, Rush Springs and Bray-Doyle high schools.

Representatives delivered the STEM education kits to the schools, just as many area schools are grappling with distance learning during the global COVID-19 pandemic. For that reason, the STEM kit donation provides an individual packet of materials that each science or math student may complete independently in the traditional classroom setting or via virtual instruction.

“As a corporate partner in the communities we serve, NextEra Energy Resources also invests in the future career success of students attending schools in our project areas,” said Dion Watson, project developer for NextEra Energy Resources. “This is an unprecedented time and we want to support teachers by providing new tools to assist with the ever-changing dynamics of the classroom due to COVID.”

The STEM kits are a Kre8 Wind Generator Kit made by Kelvin Electronics. The kits walk students through the steps of building a wind turbine from multiple pieces and wind turbine blades. Once complete, the wind turbine powers a small LED light bulb demonstrating how wind is converted to energy.

“NextEra Energy Resources wants to encourage students to be creators, so they can thrive in a complex and rapidly-changing technical world. It is not enough to know how technology works; students must be able to identify a problem in everyday life and work to creatively solve it,” Watson said. “As students transition to full- time careers in the future, our nation will need their problem-solving skills to create sustainable solutions.”

According to the latest jobs forecasts by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind and solar technicians will be the fastest growing jobs in the nation through 2028. In addition to the wind STEM kits, students receive an introduction guide to renewable energy career pathways and higher education and certified training options in Oklahoma.

“A wind or solar energy project assists with steadying the local population by providing new, long-term career opportunities for graduating students,” Watson said. “The wind industry’s growth is increasing demand for skilled workers. Construction and operations jobs are available in areas where wind is abundant, such as western Oklahoma. As the state grows its renewable energy offerings, job opportunities will also emerge in solar and battery energy storage.”

The NextEra Energy Resources STEM kit includes a teacher’s guide with a lessons on the different forms and sources of energy and how wind power can power their classrooms and a custom video so students may experience how wind energy works up close. The donation includes a comprehensive curriculum guide that was developed by the national renewable energy education organization, KidWind. This guide includes 17 additional lessons that explore the field of energy and provides many more exercises that may be used throughout multiple school grades in the district.

“The donation of these kits is great for our STEAM program,” said Kitty Herbel, district STEAM coordinator at Enid Public Schools. “STEAM is a part of the Oklahoma state curriculum so our staff teach the principles every day, but giving the students hands on experiences, such as building STEM kits, makes the learning fun and applicable for them. We’re very grateful for NextEra and their partnership in our community.”

NextEra Energy Resources owns and operates several renewable energy projects in Oklahoma, including Skeleton Creek Project, which is currently under construction in Alfalfa, Garfield and Major counties. When complete, Skeleton Creek Project will be the largest renewable energy project in North America to co-locate wind, solar and battery storage. The wind farm will begin operations at the end of 2020. NextEra Energy Resources is currently building the Ponderosa Wind Project in Beaver County, which is also scheduled to begin operations by the end of the year.

Enid News & Eagle 11.16.20