TC² @ 25
Focus for This Month
Success Stories
Next Steps
Media Release
TC² @ 25
Focus for This Month
Success Stories
Next Steps
Media Release

Developing a Solar Energy Resource that Challenges


Brodie Yyelland

Humanity faces a massive challenge: finding new energy sources to fuel human activity. The need for education in the field of renewable energy is growing, as is the need for reliable resources to aid in that education. However, renewable energy can be a contentious subject. Luckily, the critical inquiry approach developed by The Critical Thinking Consortium (TC²) provides multiple benefits—it can help students to build valuable knowledge while also helping them to explore the contentious aspects of the topic using a critical lens.


The broken thread

My interest in solar energy began in 2011 while taking a master’s degree in Clean Energy Engineering at the University of British Columbia. In 2013, I began work as a solar energy project manager with a company in Calgary. My responsibilities included helping local schools with their solar energy projects.

Three things soon became clear to me. First, educators were eager to host solar energy installations. Second, students were eager to learn what it was all about. Third, there were insufficient relevant materials available to help teachers harness their students’ curiosity. That broken thread stuck with me.


The opportunity

In those same years, I began working with and eventually became a director of Emerging Leaders for Solar Energy (ELSE). This not-for-profit organization consists of young professionals, students, and solar advocates working together to build a strong solar energy future for Canada.

In 2017, I met Usha James and Andy Nesbitt, both with TC². We discussed the idea of our two organizations working together on a solar energy resource project. That discussion was the beginning of a highly successful collaboration. We applied for and received a grant from the Alberta provincial government’s Community Environment Action Grant program to develop a solar energy learning resource for use in K–12 classrooms.


The result

With Warren Woytuck leading the team at TC², we spent the next two years engaged in planning, research, development, and revisions. Among other things, we consulted with solar power experts for technical information and hosted two onsite professional development sessions with Calgary teachers and students who provided valuable feedback and suggestions. The eventual result was Shining a Light on Solar Energy, a resource designed to help teachers develop energy and climate literacy using critical inquiry and a multidisciplinary approach. TC² has done a superb job creating solar energy learning materials that both challenge how we think about energy and provide mechanisms for students to think critically about energy options.

While the science of solar energy is a necessary component of student exploration, the resource also helps teach the thinking and reasoning skills of how to judge, reason, and assess evidence using criteria. It was designed to nurture the competencies required for scientific thinking and critical inquiry. These skills will be invaluable for today’s K–12 learners to apply to energy issues as well as other contentious issues they will face in their futures.


A pleasure

It has been a pleasure to work alongside Usha, Andy, Warren, and the rest of the TC² team for the past two years. They have demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and dedication to building an effective learning resource. I hope to continue the relationship we have built between ELSE and TC², and highly recommend TC² to any person or organization looking to develop educational resources.

Brodie Yyelland
Director, Emerging Leaders for Solar Energy
Sessional Instructor and PhD Candidate, University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta