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Published: Monday, 6/14/2010

Alternative energy is focus of UT program; educators to build new curriculum

Cardinal Stritch High School Principal Tim Mahoney plans to take classes at the University of Toledo to better teach his colleagues and students about alternative energy, billed as a potential economic development savior for Toledo.

The focus of the program is to develop a hands-on curriculum that Mr. Mahoney and 11 other area educators can pass on.

The educators, from area Catholic and Toledo Public schools, will take classes toward a master's degree in partnership, called LEADERS, with the University of Toledo. It is funded by a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

With K-12 education budget cuts rampant, the tendency is for teachers to abandon more time-consuming hands-on instruction in favor of information that is "spoon-fed," said Mr. Mahoney, who also teaches advanced placement biology.

The program is designed, ultimately, to prepare students for careers in the alternative-energy industry, which has found a home in Toledo with the rise of First Solar and the development of specialized courses of study at area colleges and universities.

The program was announced last week at a news conference at Imagination Station, a hands-on children's museum.

The museum, formerly known as COSI, opened its new Energy Factory last month to help students learn the nuts and bolts of solar, wind, and other alternative energy forms.

"We have got to begin to teach the kinds of things that are going to create our future," said Tom Brady, a former UT trustee and the current interim dean of the school's Judith Herb college of education. "We've got to update our curriculum for the kinds of technologies of tomorrow."

Mr. Brady has a background in engineering and is the founder of Plastic Technologies Inc., which has its headquarters in Holland, Ohio. The company provides packaging for manufacturers.

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