This blog is a website to provide ongoing support to all teachers in their implementation of the Island Energy Inquiry Curriculum shared in teacher workshops throughout Hawai'i.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Math of Wind Turbines!

Congratulations to Ann Saucier for building an Algebra unit around wind turbine technology at Lokelani Intermediate on Maui.  Ms. Saucier was able to engage her classes in trying to maximize output voltage through improvments in the blade designs of their turbines.  By using the IEI Lending Library, she had enough wind turbines to educate and involve teams of students.  It's wonderful to hear stories like these from our inspiring Hawaii teachers.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Visit Island Energy Inquiry!

We have a new visitor's page for Island Energy Inquiry, featuring photos and teacher comments from our workshops.  We've even got a movie trailer, and some of you will see your faces there!  Log in to  and select "Continue as Guest".  We think you'll like these new features.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hot water captures Sun's energy

Maui teachers store heat in water by using an electric pump, powered by solar energy acting on a photovoltaic panel.  Heat, light, electricity, motion, sound--many forms of energy.

Solar hot water: An old idea that's still current.

Building a solar water heater to explore conversions of the sun's radiant energy.

Renewable energy for Maui

Mayor Arakawa joins our teachers to plan Maui's energy future, and the future of our science students.

Inquiry science for the classroom

This teaching team uses their turbine to explore renewable energies.

Maui IEI Workshop for Teachers

Maui and Lanai teachers team up to develop a wind turbine with expanded polystyrene blades.

IEI Workshop on Maui

Teams of teachers modified blade design as a variable to maximize voltage output from their wind-turbine generators.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Energy from the ocean

Here's the pilot plant for Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion being developed by Makai Ocean Engineering.  We toured the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority right near Kona airport on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Amazing technologies to take advantage of Kona's deep, cold, clean water. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

This poster was sent to us by Makai Ocean Engineering, a Hawaii-based firm that is developing Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion for our state.  The company is located on Oahu, but this pilot plant is on the Big Island, at NELHA (Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority). 

OTEC uses the energy difference of cold, deep ocean water and warmer surface water to drive an ammonia cycle, spinning a turbine to produce electricity.  The ammonia is in a closed-loop system, so OTEC is extremely clean, with no need for fresh water and no competition for space or resources.

You can learn more about OTEC at Makai's website,

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wind Turbine Size on Maui

We visited Maui's Kaheawa wind farm with First Wind's Kekoa Kaluhiwa and Jennifer Endo on October 17.  As we passed one of the turbines, we noticed a worker cleaning one of the fan blades.  Can you spot him?  There were actually two workers on the same blade.  Exciting view!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Refresher Workshop on Maui

 Teachers measuring their work, equal to force times distance
 Prepping for torque lab--a new IEI activity under development
 Twisting a tube to lift weights
 Data to determine work and power
 Watts and costs for electric loads
 Renewed skills using volt meters
 Checking voltage from photovoltaic cells
 Voltages confirmed, the team's PV panel drives their water pump
Optimizing blade angle of a wind turbine--as a team

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Power of Students!

Power of Students

Island Energy Inquiry is developing additional class activities linking energy to work.  Students in Tech Careers measured forces and distances in two mini-labs:  Stairway to Heaven and Moving Water.  Back in the classroom, they calculated Work = Force x Distance, then computed their individual power.

Are you brighter than a 50-watt bulb?  Students calculated their results and answered the question.

Finally, they converted their watts of power to horsepower in the lab section titled Horsing Around.  Through this inquiry activity, they found that large muscle groups are best!  And that a world-class athletic bicyclist generated the power for the Gossamer Condor when it won the Kremer Prize for human-powered flight in 1977.