An overhead illustration showing islands
REDi Island was designed to demonstrate water power’s potential in a simple and engaging way, making it easy to integrate into classroom curriculum.
Illustration from IKM 3D

Renewable Energy Discovery (REDi) Island looks like an illustration of any lush, wooded island, surrounded by gorgeous coastline and dotted with hills and rivers, when viewed from afar. But zoom in to find waystations sprinkled across the island that have an important story to tell about how renewable energy can power the world.       

The goal of the REDi Island project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) and developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), is to bring water power’s outstanding potential into focus—and into the classroom. The virtual island features more than a dozen animated videos highlighting how different forms of hydropower and marine energy can help power communities, monitor the environment, and even provide clean drinking water. The project was designed as an accessible way to engage the next generation and inspire them to get involved in the growing water power industry.   

Now, a new web-based REDi Island app expands the learning experience. Each waystation in the app features information about a water power technology, additional education resources, curriculum ideas, and links to more information to help students dive in and understand how these systems work in the real world. The app currently features four waystations (Desalination Station, Navigation Network, Research Reef, and Tidal Town), and nine additional waystations will be released over the next few months. 

An overhead illustration showing islands with text overlaid
The web-based app expands REDi Island’s educational potential, providing resources for students of all ages at the click of a mouse.
Illustration from IKM 3D

REDi Island is part of efforts to respond to a growing need for new talent in the hydropower and marine energy workforces. For instance, more than a quarter of the domestic hydropower workforce is over 55 and nearing retirement age. Meanwhile, the marine energy sector is relatively new. This project aims to build awareness of these exciting fields and potential career paths in both sectors. (Check out WPTO’s hydropower and marine energy career maps to explore some of these opportunities!) 

“While WPTO regularly develops new resources to inform the public about our important research, REDi Island was specifically designed for use in classrooms,” said Allison Johnson, WPTO’s Engagement and Outreach Lead. “The tool serves as an inspiring, comprehensive educational resource that can introduce students at a young age to these industries, which need their passion and talent.” 

To maximize the tool’s impact in the classroom, the REDi Island team worked with the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project to flesh out the app with lesson plans that cater to different ages and learning styles. For example, a scavenger hunt activity—perfect for elementary school ages and above—guides students around the island to look for certain points of interest or information about a technology. Another activity encourages older students to explore technologies and create career profiles of the skills and backgrounds needed to work in those fields.  

An illustration of a buoy in the ocean with buildings and the shoreline in the background. Text on right side.
Each waystation in the REDi Island app, like the Observation Buoy waystation, features carefully curated information that encourages students to take a closer look at additional research on that particular technology.
Illustration from IKM 3D

Each activity includes a teacher’s guide for easy integration into existing coursework. More activities aimed at younger students will be added in the coming years and are intended to meet national standards to help fulfill core science curriculum.  

Learn more about REDi Island and how it can be used in the classroom. Check out other water power educational resources. 

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