In Hawaii, we’re surrounded by clean energy projects. We’ve got solar farms, wind farms, biofuel producers, geothermal and wave energy experiments… researchers are branching out, venture capitalists are moving in, and federal funds are flowing. And it seems as if every hot new electric car hits our streets early.
While we might take all this activity for granted, the renewable energy industry is seeing explosive growth worldwide, and the Aloha State is a leader in the space. Educators, meanwhile, are well aware of the green movement, and are building clean energy into their lesson plans. As it turns out, there’s an app for that.
The straightforwardly-named Clean Energy Hawaii STEM [iTunes link] app is designed to help teach science, technology, engineering and math skills, using clean energy projects in Hawaii as real-world examples.
At launch, the app presents a map of the main Hawaiian Islands, with pins showing the locations of clean energy projects broken down by type: biomass, geothermal, hydro, solar, and wind. Each project has a profile, and each technology type has an activity. For example, you can build a wind farm, or try to maximize photovoltaic power by tilting your iPad toward the sun (based on latitude and longitude, not by actually detecting sunlight!).
It’s no angry birds, to be sure. Experimenting with hydroelectric power generation means various combinations of flow and head, the number of turbines, and overall efficiency… and frankly the math made me dizzy.
But the exercises should sharpen the minds of bright kids, and as a pleasant side effect, cement in their minds an appreciation for all the clean energy innovation taking place in Hawaii.
The app was developed by the Women in Technology Project of the Maui Economic Development Board. It was released in February, but saw a boost for Earth Day last month when it was offered for free (the original price was $4.99, but as of this writing it’s selling for $2.99).
If you want to know more, be sure to tune in to Bytemarks Cafe on Hawaii Public Radio, KIPO 89.3FM, tomorrow afternoon at 5 p.m. (You can listen to the livestream online here.) Our guests will be Diana Warren from MEDB’s Women In Tech, and Diane Tom-Ogata from Farrington High School.
If you have your own ideas about how apps can help promote STEM education in schools, we’d love to hear them. You can call in, (808) 941-3689, or (877) 941-3689 from the neighbor islands, send comments via Twitter to @hawaii or @bytemarks, or email us at [email protected].