The Power of Bright Ideas: New Approaches to Teaching about Energy and the Environment

Vintage High School teachers Heather Brooks and Chris Auld are committed to educating students about renewable energy, conservation and environmental stewardship. PG&E has recognized their outstanding work with three PG&E Bright Ideas grants since 2011 totaling $30,000 to support programs that teach the physics of alternative energy. 

This year, Heather and Chris were awarded $15,000 to support their physics of alternative energy classes, which involve the building and analyzing of solar thermal hot water systems, hydroelectric systems, windmills, and solar photovoltaics.The alternative energy physics classes are part of a regional occupational program (ROP) that centers on hands-on projects and group work.

“This class was created by our students and for our students, so that our current energy crisis can somehow fade to a distant memory and we can look forward to a new future using alternative energy while creating a cleaner planet for future generations,” Brooks said.

SolarThermalThe Bright Ideas grant will also help support a new energy education center at Vintage High School and field trips for elementary school students from Alta Heights Magnet School and Napa Valley Language Academy. Through hands-on activities and student-made movies about energy/physics and alternative energy, the elementary school students will learn about energy, alternative energy, and physics/science from the high school students.  

PG&E believes future breakthroughs in environmental preservation will come from California’s ambitious and forward-thinking students. To inspire the bright ideas of the future and create exciting ways for the next generation to learn and succeed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), PG&E’s Bright Ideas grants help to fund innovative classroom
Windmillprojects about energy and the environment.

The PG&E Bright Ideas grant program awards up to $250,000 in grants each year to schools throughout its service area to develop projects and curricula that educate students about renewable energy, conservation, and environmental stewardship. Past projects have included installing solar panels, designing and implementing energy-saving ideas in classrooms, hosting solar car derbies, and other supporting solar-powered inventions. Since 2005, PG&E has awarded nearly $2 million in Bright Ideas grants.

Top photo from L-R: Jess Brown, PG&E; Leslie Horak, PG&E; Scott Warner, PG&E; Luis Munguia, Assistant Principal, Vintage High School; Chris Auld, Vintage High School; Heather Brooks, Vintage High School; Barbara Nemko, Superintendent, Napa County Office of Education

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