Dick Anderson of Darlington, WI creates hands-on science opportunities for middle and high school students with the KidWind Challenge
(St. Paul, MN) June 25, 2020 – The Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP) awarded Dick Anderson “2020 Energy Educator of the Year” for his dedication to the Wisconsin KidWind Challenge. Anderson is Wisconsin’s biggest advocate of the KidWind Challenge – a hands-on competition that engages middle and high school students in wind energy science and design. With unending energy, Anderson supports all aspects of KidWind activities throughout the state. KidWind, the international leader of clean energy education, runs the KidWind Challenge locally, regionally and nationally each year.
Anderson helps organize the annual WI KidWind Challenge, which grew in student participation 300% from 2019 to 2020 due, in large part, to his efforts to train and equip teachers with the skills and resources needed to participate in the Challenge. Anderson is involved in all parts of the Challenge; he helps design the instant challenges, communicates with participating teams prior to the event, and handles other event logistics from recognizing sponsors to equipping Challenge judges with bright identifiable vests.
Anderson connects with educators across the state to support instruction in wind energy and launch participation in the KidWind Challenge. He co-leads educator workshops each year, and he enthusiastically travels to schools with a truck full of materials to lead activities that introduce the science and engineering principles behind wind energy. Anderson leaves the educators ready to lead those activities in their classrooms.
Anderson sparks interest in wind energy through the distribution of KidWind educational kits and “build events” where student teams build and test their own wind turbines, while visiting schools across the state. On top of this he opens doors by providing students, teachers, and parents with ideas and excitement about all of the potential future careers in renewable energy.
Anderson has provided hours of additional support to students – the Darlington middle school teams in particular (Anderson’s hometown). His instruction and encouragement empowered these students to keep updating and improving their design for the 2019 KidWind Nationals Challenge in which they placed in the top five teams nationwide. Their success boosts the entire state’s KidWind profile.
Through Anderson’s efforts, the Wisconsin Energy Institute, which is part of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, has been able to conduct more (and farther-reaching) outreach, share its expertise with wider audiences, and give a flavor of the college experience to audiences across the state. UW-Madison has benefited from his volunteer efforts and partnership.
Prior to his work with KidWind, Anderson was a technical education teacher at the Darlington School District for several decades. He started teaching his high school students about energy in Power Mechanics in 1972. His self-designed teaching units covered the production of ethanol, electricity generated from wind and water, solar space heating, solar hot water heating, and electric vehicles. Based on news articles featuring home-brewed projects, he designed and built many examples for demonstration and experimentation with his students. According to WEI Education and Outreach staff Allison Bender and Scott Williams, Anderson is an energy educator who’s been benefiting Wisconsin’s learners for decades and they can think of no educator more deserving of this award.
Anderson will be formally recognized at the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education Celebration of Excellence Awards Banquet in November. He will also receive a $1,000 award to help continue his work in Renewable Education and KidWind.
About the Energy Educator of the Year
The Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP) annually sponsors the Energy Educator of the Year Award. The annual nomination process and announcement of winners helps to increase the visibility of the network of outstanding educators across the state of Wisconsin empowering students, teachers and community members to make wise energy choices. This award serves to recognize and reward exemplary energy educators in the state of Wisconsin.
By highlighting individuals who have made energy education a priority in their teaching and outreach initiatives, this program helps to demonstrate the importance of energy education to increasing the energy literacy of Wisconsin citizens and improving the quality of life in Wisconsin toward more sustainable human and natural communities. As leaders, these formal and nonformal educators serve as role models helping learners gain the knowledge and skills needed to analyze and resolve energy issues and ultimately adopt energy-saving attitudes and behaviors.
Learn more about the Energy Educator of the Year Award and KEEP by clicking this link.
About the KidWind Project:
The KidWind Project, an international leader in renewable energy education, has been working with educators and students to integrate renewable energy into classrooms for over 15 years. Since 2004, KidWind has held more than 700 training events for more than 40,000 teachers all over the world. For more information about our trainings, challenges and curricular materials, visit www.kidwind.org.