Hawaii State Department of Education Adopts Defined STEM Curriculum to Engage Students in Statewide Renewable Energy Initiatives

Industry News
Defined Learning and the Hawai’i DOE are partnering with OpTerra Energy Services on Ka Hei, a comprehensive energy and sustainability education program

Honolulu, HIDefined STEM, the flagship curriculum supplement of Defined Learning, today announced its five-year partnership with OpTerra Energy Services and the Hawai’i State Department of Education (HIDOE) to support Ka Hei, a statewide strategic program kicked off in 2014, that educates students about sustainable energy transitions happening across schools throughout the state.

Hawai’i is the most fossil-fuel-dependent state in the nation, and the state’s schools spend $48 million a year on electricity alone. The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative aims to relieve the state’s dependence on oil by using 100% clean energy by 2045.

The goal of the Ka Hei program is to integrate innovative energy technology with meaningful learning experiences, all while reducing energy costs. As a comprehensive energy and sustainability program, Ka Hei will transform the learning environment, reduce operational expenses, and provide engaging educational opportunities for Hawai’i’s students and community.

“We are pleased to be part of this partnership with Defined Learning and OpTerra to create such a versatile educational experience for Hawai’i’s students,” said Assistant Superintendent of the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support, Suzanne Mulcahy. “We live in one of the most isolated places in the world, and we are stewards of the land we love. We need to take care of our land by using our renewable resources. Our students are the future, and we need to educate them about how to keep our island beautiful.”

OpTerra is designing and implementing a wide variety of new energy technologies that will lower costs and help each school across the islands become more sustainable. To date, energy experts from Defined Learning and OpTerra teams have given more than 300 teachers hands-on professional development to analyze scalable technology such as wind turbines and solar panels in their classrooms.

“The Hawai’i DOE and Defined Learning are great partners in educating students about initiatives happening in their own backyard,” said Dawn Johnson, National Education Manager at OpTerra. “Together we will create a sustainable and energy-efficient environment while helping students understand the importance of protecting the land they know and love.”

The Defined STEM curriculum is available to all 256 schools across the eight islands of Hawai’i, which form one large school district. Grade-specific lessons give teachers an understanding of green initiatives that can be used in their classrooms. Defined STEM performance tasks challenge students with hands-on projects that include research and engaging videos that align with the Common Core and the newly adopted Next Generation Science Standards. In completing the tasks, students will learn core principles of science and will see the relevance of community initiatives such as moving to solar energy, limiting waste, encouraging recycling, and reducing water usage with low-flow toilets. They will also discover potential careers related to sustainable energy.

“Defined STEM is honored to be part of the Ka Hei initiative,” said Joel Jacobson, the co-founder and chief operating officer of Defined Learning. “As students see changes happening in their community, they are able to connect what they’re learning in the classroom to the real world in which they live—while exploring new technology and career opportunities at the same time.”

About Defined Learning:

Defined Learning is a K-12 educational media company that combines technology, creativity, and curriculum expertise to provide useful and relevant products to schools. Defined Learning's flagship service, Defined STEM, is a platform that enables teachers to provide application of knowledge to students through the use of project-based learning, real-world careers and meaningful reading and writing activities. To learn more, visit DefinedLearning.com.

About OpTerra Energy Services:
OpTerra Energy Services is a national energy company that partners with school districts, cities, counties, and commercial and industrial firms to implement comprehensive sustainability solutions that save money, generate revenue, improve assets, and protect the environment. We have saved our partners over $2 billion in energy savings over the past 40 years. Learn more at OpterraEnergy.com.

About the Hawaii State Department of Education:

The Hawaii State Department of Education is the ninth-largest U.S. school district and the only statewide educational system in the country. It is comprised of 256 schools and 34 charter schools, and serves more than 180,000 students. King Kamehameha III established Hawaii's public school system in 1840. To learn more, visit HawaiiPublicSchools.org.


Defined Learning Press Contact:

Sue Hanson

PR with Panache!


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