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Alliant Energy awards UNI grant to increase K through 12 energy education

April 14, 2011

Patricia Higby, energy education outreach coordinator, UNI Center for Energy & Environmental Education, 319-273-6012,

Stacey Christensen, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- An Alliant Energy Bright Ideas grant will allow the University of Northern Iowa to continue its energy education outreach in Iowa K through 12 schools. UNI's Center for Energy & Environmental Education (CEEE) plans to use new equipment and activities to increase the number of schools, teachers and students learning about energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Patricia Higby, energy education outreach coordinator at the CEEE, says today's students are tomorrow's voters, taxpayers and energy consumers. "By educating Iowa's K through 12 students, we can positively impact their future use and production of energy, as well as the present energy habits of their families, schools and communities."

Higby says in order to educate our students, we must first educate their teachers and provide them with the resources needed to teach about energy in their classrooms. "This grant will allow us to provide the materials and professional development teachers need to teach their students about wise energy production and use."

Bright Ideas grants from Alliant Energy are one-time funding opportunities designed to encourage the creation of unique energy-conservation and energy-efficient ideas.

This Bright Ideas grant allowed the CEEE to purchase pedal power equipment for hands-on learning about the benefits of energy efficiency and conservation. Students pedal a bike to generate electricity and learn about the increased work needed to power inefficient equipment. The grant also purchased a small unit featuring a micro turbine and two solar panels that will be available to teachers.

"We’re glad to continue to support energy education in our schools," said Jeanine Penticoff, director of energy efficiency and renewables at Alliant Energy. "By teaching the next generation the importance of energy efficiency, they will grow up making smart energy decisions throughout their lives."

The CEEE will involve students in community-action projects to showcase what they have learned. These projects may include school energy carnivals, video productions for local cable TV, home weatherization and presentations for civic organizations. Another activity is a school energy efficiency contest in which schools compete to have the greatest percentage of energy savings compared to the previous year.

For more information, contact Higby at 319-273-6012.