Duke Energy & KSS Partner to Create an Impact in Citrus Spring Middle School


Joshua O’Leary shines with KSS teacher training and Duke Energy Action Stipend

One of the many programs at Keystone Science School (KSS), located in Keystone, Colorado, is our teacher training for K-12 classroom teachers, known as KSS Educator Programs. KSS presents a wide variety of interdisciplinary curriculums for teachers to bring into their everyday classroom. All curriculum options have common themes, which includes the inspiration of critical thinking, engaged citizenship, and the broadening of perspectives. Most importantly, teaching themes are addressed from a non-biased framework, which gives the power of learning to the students. A common phrase around Keystone Science School is “we teach students how to think, not what to think.”

KSS has been using this approach for the last 42 years. Many of KSS’s curriculum options have been developed during the past 26 years. While KSS’s curriculum has been adapted, and shifted for a 21st Century classroom, the key components remain the same. Keystone Science School is thankful to many of our partners and sponsors who have made our programs successful and brought life-changing experience for thousands of teachers around the world.

One of KSS’s long-standing partners and collaborators is Duke Energy. For the past 20 years, Duke Energy has sponsored 95 teachers to come to KSS’s teacher trainings, therefore reaching on average 14,000 students with the curriculum. For the past three summers, they have provided scholarships for over 12 teachers from their service areas, in Florida, to participate in KSS’s Key Issues Institute. Key Issues Institute provides educators with the process, skills, and confidence to investigate current environmental issues with their students using innovative and engaging ideas, activities, and methods. Duke Energy not only provided funding for teachers to participate in the training, but they also provided additional financial support for teachers to apply for “mini-grants” to support the implementation of the Key Issues Institute curriculum in their classroom.

Recently, Joshua O’Leary, of Citrus Springs Middle School in Citrus Springs, Florida, has applied for one of these “mini-grants,” sponsored by Duke Energy, to address an environmental issue in his community. Joshua, who was sponsored by Duke Energy in 2016 to attend Key Issues Institute, is aiming to conduct a research project with his class. He is proposing to investigate how invasive algae blooms in waterways, effects the native vegetation due to the suffocation and the restraint of needed nutrients. After Joshua participated in Key Issues Institute, he knew that this local issue was the perfect project for his students to tackle. Joshua plans to teach his students about the algae, the challenges it causes to the environment, and then task them with developing a prototype tool which can extract the algae from native vegetation.

Specifically, Joshua is requesting funds for a 3D printer. As taken directly from his proposal, “Students will use 3D modeling software [created by cultivate3d] to create a working prototype of a tool that can remove invasive algae from existing beds of native vegetation and other structures. Students will then be able to test their prototypes at the annual cleanup event. Afterward, they will have the opportunity to revise their prototypes based on the performance.”

Not only will Joshua have his students learn about algae, local environmental issues, and the design process through 3D printing, but he will be engaging his students within their local community organizations. During the clean-up event, students will be supported by community volunteers and local organizations such as Marine Science Station and One Rake at a Time.

Keystone Science School believes that some lessons can’t be taught within the four walls of the classroom. It’s activities such as these which foster life-long learning and engaged citizenship. Thanks to Duke Energy and teachers like Joshua O’Leary, which help to create future leaders who work to make the world a better place.