After quitting our jobs in the summer of 2003, Alison and I packed up and toured the country for 3 months. I attended the American Association of Physics Teachers meeting for the first time. At the meeting, in Madison, WI, I attended sessions about energy and met several teachers and professors interested in the social meanings of energy production and use. After the trip, I recalled this and thought of starting a web site where people could access the same kind of information and collegiality I found in those workshops at the summer meeting. Mulling it over, I stayed up late, scribbled "TeachEnergy.org" on a paper and fell asleep. The next day thinking it over, realized EnergyTeachers.org sounded a bit less imperative and closer to the idea.
Within a month I had created a web page with links. But I was (prematurely?) proud of a section called Teachers Goals, where I organized a sort of frequently asked questions section. Teachers Goals was meant to answer questions like "What can our after-school group do to investigate energy?" Once I had gathered a few dozen ideas, I published a printed newsletter and started handing it out at conferences and meetings, and started sending it to teachers I knew to be interested in energy.
Several months later I met Stephen Cremer at a New England Section AAPT conference, and he offered to support the effort, so he, I, and Beth Bounds, another teacher I knew, formed a board and a new non-profit corporation.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is EnergyTeachers.org only for high school teachers?
- No, we have middle school teachers, college professors, elementary teachers, workers at museums and nature centers, home-schoolers, and other informal educators.
- Is EnergyTeacehrs.org promoting renewable or alternative energy?
- No, we are promoting education and science. We don't lobby. You might notice that many of the resources we list do promote this or that energy use or resource, but we haven't developed our own promotions. That said, just to consider a question worthwhile can be counted as a bias, especially since some scientific questions can make some people uncomfortable.
- Is EnergyTeachers.org only for science teachers?
- No, our work is most popular among physical and environmental science teachers and tech teachers, but we also have history educators, economics educators, engineers.
I've built the web site using Dreamweaver since the first month.
I use PHP and MySQL to make most of the pages dynamic. The information for some sections can be entered by unauthenticated users, with a wall of ReCaptcha. Other sections are edited in an password-protected interface.
I've used layers of standard and customized security, contact me for more info if you're interested.
By using linking tables in MySQL, most any type of information is related to the Links topics, and there are other relationships too. Links<>Workshops, Projects>Documents, Projects>Bibliography, Field Trips<>Features, Web sites>Field Trips.
I built an interface to Google Maps so that a map of nearby field trip sites shows up in the field trip guide. A database of US placenames allows me to get the coordinates of any named place (cities, villages, towns, and neighborhoods) in the US.