Sustainable Energy Curriculum

From 2015 and the installation of the first solar array at Ōtaki College, Energise Ōtaki has worked with teachers to develop teaching modules and student projects, including working with clean technology businesses, to advance their understanding of solar energy and its benefits. This started a continuing journey of designing and using resources for Ōtaki College (and others) to teach sustainable energy ideas.

In late 2016, Energise Ōtaki volunteers worked with Ōtaki College teachers to develop sustainability focused curriculum for the teaching of science and social studies (but also looked at ways of integrating other subjects). This was developed for students from Year 7 and 8 through to Year 13 but with a more detailed focus on younger students. While Energise Ōtaki is primarily focused on energy as a ‘way in‘ to bigger themes, social and environmental outcomes, and change focused action, we are also working within a sustainable development framework.

In 2018, the decision was made to consolidate the projects, bring them into the mainstream curriculum and develop resources that can be used as modules by teachers. This will include continuing to link the College with clean technology businesses and developing the Maori cultural input, such as the wider worldview and scientific knowledge, into the teaching of science.

The themes of these modules are:

Climate change 

  • Causes and solutions 
  • Impacts and taking action
  • Adaptation and opportunities


  • Water cycle
  • Streams rivers coast
  • Local impacts
  • Cultural ideas
  • Traditional management
  • How science and technology can help


  • Sources and seasons
  • Energy used 
  • Preservation 
  • Waste and alternatives Protection – useful life, regulation and seed banks 

Conservation in NZ 

  • Pest history
  • Predator free NZ
  • Technology opportunities 
  • Species and impacts 
  • Rongoa and traditional herbal use

Energy and Humans

  • Food and energy 
  • Waste to energy
  • Housing 
  • Transport 
  • Energy production


  • Science and engineering 
  • Impacts – social and environmental 
  • Traditional 
  • Future technologies

Of the above modules, Energise Ōtaki has focussed so far on the Energy and Human module; in particular Solar Energy, Transport and Housing – creating Teaching Units for each of them.


  • developed a solar energy workbook which includes basic information and ideas. (This was made available to Solomon Islands regional training centres)
  • teaching unit involves explaining solar energy, passive solar, concentrated solar, solar thermal,  photovoltaic and the electrical grid
  • working with the inventor of Sunrayker Ltd to explore technologies combining solar and thermal energy
  • building simple solar driven cars and racing them
  • monitoring outputs from the solar PV and thermal arrays
  • creating and cooking in solar oven


  • teaching unit involves explaining type of buildings, building materials, embodied energy, building waste, thermal properties, insulation, humidity, household appliances
  • fieldtrips to sustainably or alternatively built buildings
  • designing buildings
  • using Energy Cubes to test different windows and insulative materials
  • investigating growth of mould
  • testing and comparing energy use of different appliances
  • assessing school buildings and developing plans and writing reports to leverage funding to improve energy performance


This teaching unit is still being created.

A public version of these Teaching Units are available on this website for others to use. See either above or at Resources.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Contact us

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)


    Your Message

    7 Main St, Ōtaki
    Tue-Thu, 10am-2pm