The Green Research for Incorporating Data in the Classroom (GRIDC) project will develop curriculum to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts using data collected from renewable energy technologies at the NC Solar Center located on the campus of North Carolina State University (NCSU). A unique feature of this project is that data from multiple systems at a single location, the NCSU Solar Center, will be collected and stored enabling faculty and students to analyze, synthesize and evaluate data in a variety of instructional contexts. A monitoring system will provide students with energy and power readings from the photovoltaic (PV) system to reference against meteorological data such as wind speed, sun's irradiance, ambient temperature, and module temperature, all of which can affect the performance of the photovoltaic system. In addition, numerous other renewable technology systems throughout the site will be integrated into the monitoring system to allow students to compare performances of different technologies and products. These technology systems include: energy and power from two other photovoltaic systems; energy, power, and wind speed from a 1 kW wind turbine; BTU production from two solar thermal hot water systems; and temperature obtained from passive design house features.
Data from all systems will be collected, averaged over 15 minutes, and uploaded to a Heliotronics data acquisition system. An internet interface will allow daily, monthly, and yearly information to be viewed graphically, or downloaded in a spreadsheet for classroom use. Curriculum, using this data, will be developed and research will be conducted to determine the effectiveness of using a data-rich learning environment to develop student's higher-order thinking skills. This project will provide the nation with a living laboratory for teaching and learning integrated STEM concepts. The data collected from the renewable energy systems at the Solar Center will be available to researchers, curriculum developers, teachers, and students across the United States. The research conducted during this project will provide a base for continued research and development on using data-rich learning environments to develop thinking skills.