Educating Students of All Ages About Renewable Energy

May 17, 2024

When it comes to learning about renewable energy, Relay Education is leading the way for students of all ages.

“We provide renewable energy education for elementary schools, high schools, and job skills training at the post-secondary level. The job skills training focuses on solar installation and maintenance, wind turbine operations and maintenance, sustainable agriculture, and GIS,” explains Aidan Nolan, Development Officer for Relay Education.

Relay Education is a charitable organization and started in 2010 and it grew out of an organization called the Toronto Renewable Energy Co–op.

“They were the folks who set up the first urban wind turbine at Exhibition Place back in 1998. In doing that, they discovered there was a big need for public education programs, so they started developing the programs that would eventually be the ones that we run today,” he says.

Photo credit: Relay Education

Early Education

At the elementary school level, Relay Education’s programming is provided in the classroom.

“We have a really big focus on hands-on programming in elementary schools. We have a solar workshop where the kids design and build their own solar cars and they go outside and race them. In the wind turbine workshop, the kids design and build their own wind turbines that generate electricity. We also have a biogas workshop which is focused on the idea of using compost and organic waste to produce energy,” Aidan explains.

Other programs offer experiential education about topics like chemistry, hydropower, the water cycle, water conservation, and energy conservation.

For high school students, Relay Education has two main streams.

“One is the STEM-focused workshop where we have the students looking at wind, solar, and energy storage. They’re using model wind turbines and mini solar panels to conduct experiments in that workshop. The other one is focused on careers where we go over 40 different careers in the sustainability sector and discuss several different educational pathways that students may take to end up in those careers,” Aidan explains.

The careers stream of workshops discusses how to write a resume and how to present yourself when pursuing a career in sustainability.

Photo credit: Relay Education

Continuing Education

If a student decides to pursue one of these careers later in life, Relay Education’s job skills training can help.

Training programs last from 4-12 weeks in GIS, solar, wind, and sustainable agriculture.

“Each of these workshops is very different. The solar and wind ones have safety training about working from heights, high-angle rescue training, and other safety certifications. Participants will also spend some time in the classroom learning about the benefits of the technology and then some time in the field as well doing things like installing solar panels,” Aidan explains.

Workshops are led either by Relay Education themselves or in partnership with colleges.

Working With Industry Partners

“Pattern Energy has been sponsoring our in-school wind workshops for several years. They’ve also sponsored the Kids World of Energy Festival which is an annual event where kids will participate in various renewable energy activities in classrooms across the country. Kids go through different energy stations in their school gymnasium and they’ll learn about wind, solar, biogas, and electrical circuitry,” Aidan says.

Photo credit: Relay Education

Workshops that Pattern Energy has supported are also provided in Indigenous communities like Henvey Inlet First Nation, Walpole Island First Nation, and Six Nations of the Grand River.

“Pattern Energy has been really helpful in our work with Indigenous communities,” he says.

Aidan recently joined Pattern representatives at the First Nations Major Projects Coalition Conference.

“It was great to reconnect with folks who I hadn’t seen in a while. We had some great conversations about preparing communities for future renewable energy projects,” Aidan says.

To learn more about the work that Relay Education does in school and in communities, check out their website here:

Photo credit: Relay Education