Amanda Opp

Amanda Opp was one of the winners of NREL’s 2017 Lithium-Ion Battery Car Competition.

Amanda just finished middle school at The Manning School in Golden, CO, where she was honored to be in the National Junior Honor Society. She loves to volunteer in the community, and being in NJHS encouraged her to collect volunteer hours in a lot of different places. She loves the sciences and language arts, and she especially liked the jewelry-making class she took spring semester.

Amanda’s favorite subject has always been Science; she loves asking questions to find out how things work. When she was young, she loved to take apart old electronics to see the insides.When she found a circuit board, she thought it was really interesting to see how it worked. She loves the sciences because she loves exploring all the ways to find a solution to a problem. She also believes that there is a very important roll for girls to play in science, and one day she hope to stand among many other female innovators.

Aside from school, Amanda also plays basketball and throws shot put and discus. She has been doing both sports since she was 8. Throwing in track and field is an individual sport, and Amanda likes being able to set personal goals and being responsible for meeting or beating them. Being on a basketball team has taught her the value of working with others, and she enjoys the feeling of sharing a win with her teammates.

In her free time, Amanda reads, hikes and goes to sporting events with her family. She also goes to festivals and concerts in Denver, and likes to travel around the country. Museums are always favorite spots when she goes to different cities.

Cross-Curricular STEM Challenges Part II

(If you haven’t already, read our first post about Cross-Curricular STEM Challenges.)

  • A CS lesson on human interface design using Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Younger students may require an explanation of interface.
  • Think about the droids in Star Wars as further expansion and explanation for this type of technology.
  • The story of Humpty Dumpty (STEM challenge: construct a crate to protect Humpty from his fall)
  • Because the Little Bug Went Ka-choo by Rosetta Stone – Dr. Seuss book (STEM challenge: construct a Rube Goldberg machine)
  • Read this true story about a Coast Guard rescue (for grades 8-12 students); there are loads of STEM challenges applicable to this story: how to keep a boat afloat in hurricane force winds; how does the helicopter stay in position; how to equalize a listing boat, and more. Other nautical options include Moby Dick by Herman Melville, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, and The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea by Sebastian Junger.


Cross-Curricular STEM Challenges

STEM requires problem solving, and problem solving requires a broad spectrum of thought. Because their brains haven’t been conditioned to think in a vacuum, many times young students can tackle problems that have stumped engineers.

Because of this, we at Energy Day understand all too well the importance of the application of STEM whenever possible. In this regard, cross-curricular teaching and learning becomes incredibly powerful, especially for elementary students.

Here are some ideas that allow teachers to apply STEM to situations that students may already be familiar with, like popular children’s stories.

In all of these scenarios, this “lesson plan” should be followed:

  1. Read the story
  2. Identify the problem and opportunity for solution (allow the students to lead the discussion)
  3. Brainstorm solutions (if research is required, this is the step in which to do it)
  4. Choose the best solution
  5. Test the solution (construct something using things like Legos, plastic cups, toothpicks, popsicle sticks, rubber bands, Q-tips, pipe cleaners, foil, straws (different sizes and colors), masking tape (different colors), duct tape, clear tape, string, glue, clay, foam wedges (for makeup), balloons, paper towel and toilet paper tubes (and any other recycled materials), cardboard and boxes, paper and card stock, cereal boxes, coffee cans, plastic bags, water bottles, coins, magnets, dried beans, balls, blocks, and anything else you can think of)
  6. Evaluate the solution (redesign/improve or go back to step 4) – take this opportunity to explain that “failure” is actually a step in the process that leads to success
  7. Presentation of the solution (this could be in the form of a contest with an announcer or a big show with a story and props)

The list of children’s literature below is a great place to begin:

  • The Three Billy Goats Gruff (STEM challenge: build a bridge that will support the goats’ weight in order to get to the other side)
  • The Three Little Pigs (STEM challenge: build a house that will withstand strong wind forces)
  • Dogzilla by Dav Pilkey (STEM challenge: build a dog bone launcher)
  • Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Suess (STEM challenge: build a castle – research medieval castles and what purpose each part of it served)

Make sure you allow the students time to research and explore; that’s where the learning takes place. Follow up with something written (or a class discussion depending on the age) that allows students to describe the challenges and how they overcame them. In addition, you may encourage them to “fail” several times before they come up with a solution.

See our post with suggestions for STEM challenges, and check out Cross-Curricular STEM Challenges Part II.

2017 CSTEM Competition

This past weekend, Energy Day was busy. In Houston, we attended the CSTEM competition at the Health Museum. Congratulations to the CSTEM winners: Tekoa Charter School, Beatrice Mayes Elementary School, Southwest Middle School, Energy Institute High School, and Westside High School. Photos will be uploaded soon.

In addition to the awards, there were lots of robots and other STEM everywhere. Many students were enjoying the museum when they weren’t competing. It was fun to watch them explore and engage in STEM activities on their own.

NREL’s 27th Annual Car Competition

On Saturday, Energy Day Colorado attended the 27th Annual NREL Junior Solar Sprint and Lithion-Ion Battery Car Competition. It was a beautiful day in Denver as we awarded the winning teams for their hard work in STEM. Congratulations to Stargate School for winning the Solar Sprint and to the Manning Option School for winning the Li-Ion Battery portion. Keep up the good work, STEMmers!

2017 Science Engineering Fair Houston

We attended our first awards ceremony of the 2017 EDAP season, and it was one for the books. Look at how many young ladies were awarded for their achievements in STEM at this year’s SEFH! We are so proud to be a part of so many competitions that allow students to showcase their amazing abilities in these areas. These winners will be recognized again onstage at Energy Day Festival in October.

Grand Prize Winners
(look at all of the young ladies!)

Impact the Next Generation!

For the last ten or so years, we have been hearing a loud call from companies, economic development administrators, and workforce leaders regarding the need for skilled employees in STEM fields to feed the future of STEM industries and our communities. Energy Day Festival and EDAP have answered with an arsenal of tools and resources to support bright young minds and the adults helping to shape their future.

A thriving STEM workforce starts with exposure and engagement long before students prepare for college. This begins in multiple places:

  • In the elementary classroom, with passionate and empowered educators who have access to the necessary materials to teach STEM in an effective and FUN way
  • In businesses, with industry leaders actively working and volunteering their time, resources, and funds, while directly engaging in their communities
  • In homes, with parents who are equipped to provide opportunities for their children

We are all very important pieces in this STEM/Industry equation, and Energy Day is an excellent way for all of us to come together and make a significant impact. The 7th Annual Energy Day Festival is on Saturday, October 21, 2017, at Sam Houston Park in downtown Houston, Texas from 11am-4pm.

More than 23,000 people attended Energy Day 2016. Energy Day provides a great opportunity to engage with the community and do all of the above-mentioned things. We hope you are able to participate and that you will help spread the word to colleagues, friends, and family. Check out the Energy Day story on, and watch our video.

Caitlin Lau

Caitlin Lau won an award for the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing in 2016. Caitlin is currently (2016) a high school junior with great interests in the Computer Science field. Her curious and adaptable nature has led her to try many new things. When Caitlin was first introduced into computing, her passion for using her skills as a programmer to help others grew significantly. In her free time, Caitlin enjoys figure skating, playing the violin and ukulele, editing skating music, fashion/plush art designing, and coding. Skating has been an important part of her life since she was five. Caitlin serves on the Lone Star Figure Skating Club Junior Board of Directors. As a Junior Director, she assists with competitions, test events, fundraising,and helps promote the sport of figure skating. Additionally, she acts as a mentor and role model to the younger skaters. Caitlin was officially appointed and serve as a United States Figure Skating Test Judge for Singles/Pairs and Ice Dance. Caitlin is a three time US national champion in showcase skating and received two congressional awards for her work in the sport. She also holds numerous National and International Team Ice Theater titles. Her prestigious achievements were featured in the US Figure Skating and Sweetwater Style magazines. Volunteering is highly important to her and being an avid volunteer in the Special Olympics Texas program, she aims to bring out the champion in every Special Olympics athlete. Due to Caitlin’s interests in numerous artistic pursuits, one of her many aspirations is to help budding artists with her aptitude in computer science by revolutionizing fine arts with new technologies and programs that cut down work time and foster creativity. Also with the wide array of skills that she possesses, she is able to quickly adapt and think of unique solutions when computing. In college, Caitlin strives to enhance her Computer Science, Life Sciences, and Design skills. She believes that like the fine arts, technology allows people to create something monumental from scratch and by merging these fields, she will be able to help engineer a brighter, better, and more innovative future for humanity.

Paige Moore

Paige Moore graduated Valedictorian from Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy (YWCPA), an Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) school, in 2016, and she is currently attending Smith College in Massachusetts.

She was active in community service, science, and leadership oriented activities at Young Women’s. In the summer of 2016, she interned at Texas Children’s Hospital to research a vaccine. She is now an AEMES (Achieving Excellence in Mathematics, Engineering and Sciences) Scholar and will be conducting research with a faculty member at her new school, Smith College. Paige is optimistic and enthusiastic about starting her new journey.

Paige’s Academic Accomplishments:

  • Interned at Baylor College of Medicine to do research (2015-2016)
  • VEX Robotics (2012-2016)
  • Goodwill Industries of Houston Volunteer Work, helped homeless veterans (2012-2016)
  • EMERGE College Readiness Program (2012-2016)
  • Houston ISD District Science Fair (2013-2015)

Jeffrey (Jaewoo) Heo

Jeffrey (Jaewoo) Heo is currently (2016) a junior attending school at Seoul International School, South Korea. He moved from Korea to Singapore, where he lived for a year and attended an international school for the first time in 2nd grade. While living in Singapore became comfortable with the English language.

Although his parents both majored in non-science subjects, he was always fascinated by technological developments; inventions or discoveries that benefitted the well-being of mankind especially appealed to his interests. He is greatly motivated to find a way to replace fossil fuels with solar technology after he took the opportunity to study extensively on solar technology.

Academic Achievements:

Freshman, Sophomore Year High Honor Student

Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference (KAIAC) Science Olympiad Bronze Medalist for Chemistry (2015)

Korea Science and Engineering Fair (KSEF) 2nd Place for Engineering Category (2016)

Princeton University Physics Competition 2016 Honorable Mentions

Google Science Fair 2016 Regional Finalist

ISWEEEP 2016 Gold Medalist at Energy Category, Grand Award Winner at Energy Category