National Guard Launches Mobile Energy Education Lab
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau
WASHINGTON, Sep. 30, 2010 As part of the president’s “Educate to Innovate” initiative, which has goals to improve participation and performance of students in science, technology, engineering and math programs, the National Guard debuted The Energy Lab, a mobile classroom featuring interactive learning tools focusing on the science and technology behind alternative energy sources here today.
Unveiled here at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, the lab is part of the Guard’s Mobile Learning Center program and will visit schools in 10 states starting tomorrow and running through spring 2011.
The mobile lab also will provide exposure to science and math for a number of schools and communities that may not have access to those resources.
“Visiting high schools and armories in underserved communities, the Mobile Learning Center will focus on technology while helping students explore energy efficiency, and alternative energy sources,” Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall, senior enlisted advisor to the chief of the National Guard Bureau, said during the unveiling.
Engaging students in the sciences and technology is key, she said, to building interest in studying those fields.
“Somebody has to get people fascinated or interested in technology and science and [the] mobile energy lab, it seems to me, will tap into that interest and fascination,” said Rep. Eleanor Holmes-Norton, who attended the event.
The lab does that, Jelinksik-Hall said, by providing interactivity through video game-type technology that run scenarios in which students learn about science and engineering and must apply that knowledge to navigate through the scenario.
The program focuses on students’ interests, such as computers and interactive games, while providing a different way to look at how science and engineering can be applied, Jelinski-Hall said.
Geared toward high school juniors and seniors, the lab works to help introduce science and technology concepts to those who often are written off as being too far along to become interested in the sciences.
“It’s geared toward students who are … in the 11th and 12th grade -- and that’s real late,” said Holmes-Norton. “What this mobile Energy Lab does is to say wait a minute, there is a way to tap into the fascination of young people today at fairly advanced ages so that they become truly interested in technology.”
Building on that interest in science and technology and providing the vehicle to expose students to those concepts fits in with the Guard’s community-based structure.
“It is also totally fitting and appropriate that the National Guard spearhead this initiative,” Jelinski-Hall said. “We are the face of your communities in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia.”
However, she said, in the end it comes back to building communities and providing value for a better future for those in the community.
“Education is the key,” Jelinski-Hall said. “The mobile Learning Center will help prepare our children for a future filled with the hope of prosperity, happiness and security. They deserve nothing less.”