Neither the cloudy forecast nor pandemic concerns were enough to discourage the teams that came together on Saturday, April 30th for the 2022 EnergyWhiz event!
EnergyWhiz is a daylong celebration of sustainable solutions, creativity and engineering skills, where students from throughout Florida came together to showcase their renewable energy projects. This year, elementary, middle, and high school teams designed and built everything from solar-powered electric vehicles to sun-powered cookers and “green” homes for pets and other critters to showcase and share at EnergyWhiz.
The event, presented this year by sponsor Florida Power and Light Company, is hosted each year at the FSEC Energy Research Center, a research institute at the University of Central Florida, located at the Cocoa Campus of the UCF and Eastern Florida State College.
This year’s EnergyWhiz competitors participated in one of six categories: Junior Solar Sprint, Critter Comfort Cottage, Energy Inspired Art, Energy Innovations, Energy Transfer Machine and the Solar Energy Cook-off. Each competition category incorporates some type of energy efficiency measure or renewable energy technology.
Did you know that buildings account for more than 40% of U.S. total energy use and 70% of the country’s electricity use? Reducing that consumption to match renewable generation is one of the key challenges of our clean energy future, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The need to design and operate buildings to be more efficient, flexible, and responsive is essential to help meet that challenge. This is a primary focus at the FSEC Energy Research Center, which has been awarded a $1,000,000 contract for continued efforts in the Department of Energy’s flagship whole-building energy simulation software engine, EnergyPlus.
EnergyPlus is an open-source, whole-building energy simulation software that engineers, architects, and researchers use to model both energy consumption—for heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting and plug and process loads—and water use in buildings.
FSEC ERC has decades of whole-building energy simulation program development experience and has been part of the Department of Energy’s EnergyPlus core development team since 2001, when the Department of Energy changed from the DOE2.1 simulation program to EnergyPlus. Since then, FSEC ERC has been one of many central teams working with DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, to maintain, research, and develop the simulation program.
FSEC ERC is an essential part of the bi-annual updates for the program every year, not only providing software updates and fixing glitches, but also writing and creating new software within the program.
Green Division (Grades 3 – 5) Best Design 1st Place – The Limo – Pine Crest School (Ft. Lauderdale) Teacher – Kris Swanson 2nd Place – The PC Mobile – Pine Crest School (Ft. Lauderdale) Teacher – Kris Swanson 3rd Place – HELIOS – The Bonds – NSU University School (Ft. Lauderdale) Teacher – Michele Murray-Garren Most Innovative 1st Place – The Limo – Pine Crest School (Ft. Lauderdale) Teacher – Kris Swanson 2nd Place – Ocean Odyssey – Buck Lake Elementary (Tallahassee) Teacher – Kim Perez 3rd Place – Mordor – Buck Lake Elementary (Tallahassee) Teacher – Kim Perez Race 1st Place – Sun Runners – Orlando Science (Orlando) Teacher – Amy Trujillo 2nd Place – The Bonds – NSU University School (Ft. Lauderdale) Teacher – Michele Murray-Garren 3rd Place – The Lightning Sharks – NSU University School (Ft. Lauderdale) Teacher – Michele Murray-Garren
Blue Division (Grades 6 – 8) Best Design 1st Place – The Rovers – Parkland STEM Club (Plantation) Teacher – John Garren 2nd Place – The Milwee Falcons – Milwee Middle (Longwood) Teacher – Carol Unterreiner 3rd Place – Meowzster – Cornerstone Learning Community (Tallahassee) Teacher – Karen Metcalf Most Innovative 1st Place – Panther Engineering G8 – Pine Crest School (Ft. Lauderdale) Teacher – Kris Swanson 2nd Place – The Rovers – Parkland STEM Club (Plantation) Teacher – John Garren 3rd Place – Meowzster – Cornerstone Learning Community (Tallahassee) Teacher – Karen Metcalf Race 1st Place – The Rovers – Parkland STEM Club (Plantation) Teacher – John Garren 2nd Place – Meowzster – Cornerstone Learning Community (Tallahassee) Teacher – Karen Metcalf 3rd Place – The Milwee Falcons – Milwee Middle (Longwood) Teacher – Carol Unterreiner
UCF, one of seven teams selected by the Department of Energy to demonstrate innovative building energy retrofits, will determine if a pod system with heating and cooling capabilities is effective for retrofitting thousands of homes, including affordable housing.
ORLANDO, March 30, 2022 – The University of Central Florida was recently awarded a grant worth $4.4 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to determine if a pre-packaged pod is an effective method to deploy very efficient heating, cooling and water heating systems to thousands of homes.
The DOE awarded $32 million to seven teams that will manage 30 demonstration projects nationwide. Finding effective ways to retrofit existing and older buildings to be more energy efficient is critical considering there are 130 million buildings in the United States today and about 75% of them are expected to still be standing in 2050, according to the DOE. Upgrading older homes is often expensive and intrusive, which makes homeowners less likely to make the investment. The pod system holds promise because it is expected to reduce energy use by 50-75% and is less disruptive to install, according to researchers.
COCOA, Fla., March 2, 2022—How many energy transfers can you demonstrate in 60 seconds? What is the most energy efficient home for raising butterflies? What artistic inspiration can be found in renewable energy and climate change? These are just some of the questions answered with demonstrations at this year’s EnergyWhiz Virtual.
More than 225 students from 79 schools throughout the state of Florida participated in this year’s virtual event from February 14-18. EnergyWhiz is a renewable energy-focused
event dedicated to giving K-12 students a hands-on approach to project-based learning activities utilizing science, technology, art, and math (STEAM) capabilities. Hosted by the FSEC Energy Rese
arch Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, EnergyWhiz is an annual event that began more than 20 years ago and now includes virtual, in-person and regional options.
Teams from all over the state of Florida—as far north as Tallahassee, and as far south as Pinecrest— showcased their STEAM talents at EnergyWhiz Virtual.