Department of Energy

Solar Decathlon: 3 STEM Resources for Teachers

September 28, 2017

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STEM education days at Solar Decathlon
Middle school students tour the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon during Education Days in 2011 | Photo by Stefano Paltera. 

Teachers: the next big thing in solar is nearly here! On Thursday, October 5, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 officially kicks off in Denver. The biennial competition challenges collegiate student teams to design and build solar-powered houses that are both incredibly beautiful and sustainable. After two years of planning, the student teams are hard at work assembling their houses at the 61st & Peña Station, also known as the Solar Decathlon village for now. 

Solar Decathlon not only helps prepare some of America’s smartest and most talented young people for the future energy workforce, but it also serves as a teaching and learning tool for educators and younger students interested in science, engineering, technology and math – or STEM. Here are a few events and resources to keep in mind:

Education Days: Solar Decathlon is free and open to the public, but organizers have designated specific times for local middle schools so that students can get exclusive access. Students can tour the village, ask a volunteer questions, chat with team members, and attend a hands-on energy workshop to learn about the science behind these amazing houses. Education Days are planned for:

  • Thursday, October 5, 2017: 11 a.m.–2 p.m. MT
  • Friday, October  6, 2017: 11 a.m.–2 p.m. MT
  • Thursday, October 12, 2017: 11 a.m.–2 p.m. MT
  • Friday, October 13, 2017: 11 a.m.–2 p.m. MT

Interested in attending? Email to make a reservation today.

Virtual House Tours: Since not everyone is able to travel to Denver and teleportation technology doesn’t exist (yet!), we’re bringing the Solar Decathlon experience to your classrooms virtually through 360-degree videos of the houses, which will be available on the Solar Decathlon website, October 5, just as the competition is getting underway. In addition, we’ll be broadcasting live, behind-the-scenes tours of the houses on the Energy Department’s Facebook page. Our Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will also be broadcasting live from the big event.  Make sure to follow Solar Decathlon, Energy Department and the #SolarDecathlon hashtag on social media for complete coverage.

Free Online Resources:  Some of the same STEM concepts such as energy and building science that university students are learning for Solar Decathlon can be learned at the elementary, middle and high school levels. The National Energy Education Development Project developed books and classroom activities to teach these topics, which are available for free on Solar Decathlon’s website.

Podcast: Direct Current

Learn how the winning house design of the 2015 Solar Decathlon was influenced by Superstorm Sandy. 

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