The University of Nebraska-Lincoln houses the Wind Applications Center, which is a resource for Nebraska's K-12 schools.
Wind Applications Center Director Jerry Hudgins says wind is a fantastic resource in Nebraska, lending itself to renewable energy generation, especially in rural parts of the state. He says the jobs associated with wind production are just part of the reason rural Nebraskans should care about wind energy and wind turbines at schools.
"We have an interest in general education for students to learn about science and related fields associated with energy production, even conventional energy production, but also what value renewable energy brings to the mix. One of those, of course, is wind energy. One way to do this is to have a visible representation of one of those generating sources. A perfect example is a small wind turbine."
Hudgins says the purpose of this program isn't just to generate electrical energy, but to provide a source of discussion and learning about renewable energy and how it impacts everyone's lives and the job opportunities available.
"Not only do we install the wind turbines, but we try to work with the local teachers to help them develop some curriculum that would be appropriate for them. We certainly don't expect a huge amount of time devoted strictly to wind energy, but we work with them to insert, where appropriate, pieces of that. And that can come in various forms, from earth science areas to physics to economics, public policy issues, and so forth. So there are all kinds of ways you can discuss wind energy and renewable energy."
Wind Applications Center Associate Director Joel Jacobs says through this program 28 wind turbines have been installed across the state. With 25 partner schools in the program, Nebraska leads the nation and reaches 24,000 to 25,000 students.
At this time, Hudgins says the Wind Applications Center provides logistical and technical support to the partner schools. He says the funding for the individual schools comes from a variety of sources in the state and from a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. In the past couple of years, though, Hudgins says funds have decreased and been harder to obtain, making it more difficult for schools to participate.
For more information on the Wind for Schools Program, go to engineering.unl.edu and search "wind for schools."