CHICAGO – The Energizing Student Potential (ESP) program, an initiative focused on bringing STEM education to students in northern Illinois and northwest Indiana, has expanded to serve students and educators in over 49 new schools and 35 returning schools after its successful inaugural implementation last year. The education initiative was formed through the collaboration between six major energy companies that serve the area.
ESP provides a suite of programs designed to enhance STEM education for 5th-8th grade students and empower them to explore STEM careers. The students in the ESP program attend public, private and charter schools across the region, many of which are located in historically underserved communities.
Participating teachers receive a 30-day curriculum focused on teaching the science and sources of energy, electricity generation and transmission, transportation, efficiency, conservation and careers in energy. Schools receive materials to host an energy fair, free energy school audits, field trips to partner facilities and three days of professional development for teachers.
“ESP has truly energized our students' explorations and investigations into the importance of energy in our daily lives at the local level and also from a global perspective,” said Gerard Kovach, a teacher at McCutheon Elementary in Chicago. “The highlight of our participation in the ESP program was our school's first ever energy fair, which culminated with what our 8th grade students learned through the ESP and NEED curriculum, and it empowered our students to take the lead, thus transforming from students to teachers.”
The ESP program is made possible through a partnership between the Exelon Foundation, ComEd, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas and BP America who also work alongside the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED).
“Today’s energy workforce has an increasing need for highly-trained individuals with a background in STEM,” said Steve Solomon, president of the Exelon Foundation. “By investing in this program, we are providing thousands of students with the tools they need to be the next generation of successful innovators.”
Currently, ESP educates 15,000 students and plans to expand the program to 21,000 students by the 2017-2018 school year.