With the shift to more online learning, DTE Energy has developed a virtual field trip to its wind and solar parks to teach young people about clean energy and the important role it plays in addressing climate change. Students experience what it’s like to climb up a 300-foot wind turbine tower, learn how solar panels use sand to create energy and visit three DTE renewable energy projects in different locations across Michigan.
The 27-minute video also introduces middle and junior high school students to the many career opportunities available in the energy sector, ranging from jobs in the skilled trades to positions requiring advanced-level graduate degrees. In addition, DTE has created an educators’ guide for teachers to supplement the field trip content. With suggested research and discussion topics, worksheets and games, DTE hopes the activities in the guide will challenge students to think creatively about reducing carbon emissions and building a more sustainable future. The virtual field trip video and teachers’ guide are available to all on the company’s Empowering Michigan blog.
“Increasing the amount of energy we generate from renewable resources is one of the most important things we can do to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change,” said Trevor Lauer, president of the electric company at DTE Energy. “DTE is Michigan’s largest producer of renewable energy, with plans to triple generation from wind and solar by 2030. We created this field trip to help young people learn more about clean energy and to challenge them to think about actions they can take now – and in the future – to save energy and help protect the environment. It would be great if the field trip inspired some to pursue a career in Energy.”
The virtual field trip opens at DTE’s headquarters in downtown Detroit, Mich. where two DTE employees talk about their jobs with the company’s renewable energy team and the steps DTE is taking to generate cleaner energy. The field trip host also describes the science behind how energy is created.
The next stop on the field trip is DTE’s Polaris Wind Park, located in mid-Michigan’s Gratiot County. Students get to see how wind turbines are constructed, learn about the turbines’ components and then go inside a turbine, venturing both inside and on top of the nacelle, experiencing the view.
Next up, the field trip moves to DTE’s Lapeer Solar Park, located about 50 miles north of Detroit, Mich., to show students how we are generating more and more energy from the sun. Operational since May 2017, DTE’s Lapeer Solar Park is among the largest solar parks in Michigan. With 200,000 solar panels covering 250 acres, the park generates enough clean energy to power 11,000 homes.
The final stop on the field trip is Detroit’s O’Shea Solar Park. Here students learn about the more than 26 wildlife habitats and pollinator gardens DTE hosts at its sites. DTE plans to plant pollinator gardens at all of its future solar parks and the Wildlife Habitat Council has recognized the company for its environmental stewardship.
“With thousands of students now engaged in online learning, it’s great that DTE Energy is providing our students with the opportunity to learn about renewable energy and virtually visit DTE’s wind and solar parks,” said Beth Gonzalez, assistant superintendent, Detroit Public Schools Community District. “Educational efforts like this help further level the playing field for our students by bringing the experience to them. We appreciate DTE creating this fun and creative way to teach students about clean energy and the role it plays in their lives and we plan to make this part of our District’s recommended activities for Earth Week 2021.”
With a goal of achieving net zero by 2050, DTE has laid out a robust plan to reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. The company also offers customers the opportunity to reduce their own carbon footprint by enrolling in its MIGreenPower voluntary renewable energy program. By 2022, DTE will increase its generation capacity from renewable energy to more than 2,400 megawatts, enough clean energy to power 900,000 homes.