Students explore forms of renewable energy through the new unit

Switched On program makes sustainability a student focus

Stuart DeLandre
Principal, Illawarra Environmental Education Centre

More than 20 schools have signed up early for a new Stage 3 Science and Technology unit, Switched On Energy developed by the NSW DEC Illawarra Environmental Education Centre (IEEC) to make sustainability a cross-curriculum priority.

The project was kick-started in 2012 when the IEEC received an Environmental Trust grant of $2500 to fund school-based incursions about energy conservation.

The project was trialled among four schools and, on receiving the program evaluation, the Office of Environment and Heritage saw promise in the results and offered the IEEC an additional $34,000 to expand the program. This year, the IEEC will share the program across the NSW Environmental Education Centre network. So far, 23 schools have subscribed to the program, sending 41 classes to participate in it.

The IEEC visits participating schools with a van packed with resources and gadgets aimed at giving students hands-on experience with solar devices, wind turbines, electrical circuits and even a special bike for them to generate their own electricity.

Outcomes addressed by the unit include:

  • values clarification toward energy use and related global issues
  • skills in working scientifically by making predictions and gathering data to draw evidence-based conclusions and develop explanations
  • opportunities to engage with technology to explore content relating to energy use, transfer and production.

The unit culminates in students designing solutions and taking actions to reduce energy use.

Teachers booking the Switched On Energy incursion receive a guide with syllabus links, background information, lesson plans and resources for pre and post visit teaching.

Schools from south-west Sydney, Illawarra, Southern Highlands, Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla and Sapphire coasts are invited to contact Illawarra Environmental Education Centre to book a Switched On Energy incursion in semester 1. Cost: nil.

To contact the Illawarra Environmental Education Centre phone (02) 4237 6100, email, or contact the Switched on Energy coordinator at