The Physics of Extreme Energy

Dates: June 2nd-13th

Cost: $600

Every person on earth uses energy in one form or another. Have you ever wondered how electricity is made and delivered to us? Do you wonder why we don't just build more solar panels and windmills to meet our energy needs? This module will give you a balanced understanding of how natural energy sources are used to produce electricity today and what researchers are doing to harvest new energy sources for the future. Virtually every modern energy topic will be presented in an understandable and relatable manner. Students will learn about modern and cutting edge technologies used to generate, transmit, store and conserve electric power through hands-on learning and multiple field trips to some of the world's most extreme energy systems. Students will have many opportunities to meet and talk to engineers, researchers, scientists and technicians who are looking for new sources of energy and more effective methods of delivering it to us.

Classroom activities will involve building electricity generating devices and connecting them to a grid that will supply a miniature community. This experience will provide the student with a keen understanding of the most challenging problems in energy today while arming them with the knowledge and reasoning skills to independently contemplate future solutions. Through field trips, we will visit power generators that use natural gas, solar, hydro, wind and geothermal energy sources to produce electricity and tour the world's largest grid scale battery system located in Fairbanks. Students will obtain a practical understanding of education and career paths in science, technology, engineering and math while obtaining an understanding of the supreme importance of physics in everyday life.


Brandon Olszewski

Brandon Olszewski is a third year physics teacher at William Smith High School, an Expeditionary Learning high school in Aurora, Colorado. Brandon graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Physics and Secondary Science Education. Brandon has had a passion for engineering ever since he was a child, which was inspired by his father, and co-instructor Charles Olszewski. Brandon’s main focus in education is to help students develop their ability to show their own understanding of concepts through the creation of models that have real-world applications. Anything that is exciting and meaningful to a student drives motivation and really focuses their study of physics! Aside from his work during the school year, Brandon has worked with astronomers from UW-Madison at Kitt Peak National Laboratory, worked as a summer physics instructor with the Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth (2011/2012), was a co-mentor for the UW Summer Science Institute (2012), and developed a high school genetics curriculum. Brandon is excited to share his passion for discovery and understanding this summer with ASRA!

Charles Olszewski

Charles Olszewski has over 30 years of engineering and executive management experience in the power and communications industries. As a registered Professional Engineer, Charles has managed a diverse portfolio of multi-million dollar projects in fossil and nuclear power generation and has led software development projects for power plant simulators, nuclear safety systems as well as advanced marketing communications systems. As a child, Charles was inspired by the engineering marvels developed during the race to the moon in the 1960's and driven by the challenges posed by the energy crisis of the early 1970's. Charles obtained an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Mechanical Engineering specializing in thermodynamics. As a strong believer in continuing education, Charles holds advanced degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marquette University in Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering. As the Chief Technology Officer for an alternative energy corporation, Charles is overseeing the deployment of advanced thermal-plasma based gasification technology that will turn common household trash into renewable base-load electric power. The negative carbon footprint power plant will completely destroy the waste generated by a city of 700,000 people while providing all the electric power needs for 48,000 households. Charles will encourage students to pursue careers in science and technology by showing them many potential pathways.

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