About Allison Hansberry

As Operations Manager for the Schatz Center, Allison is responsible for program administration. Her work includes planning, analyzing, and evaluating the Center's fiscal and operational policies and procedures and providing assistance with and leadership in pre-and-post award grant and contract management. Allison also oversees the Center's education and outreach program and works with the Outreach Coordinator to develop renewable energy programs. Allison graduated from Humboldt State University with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies, Botany minor. Her degree combines the disciplines of Environmental Science, Appropriate Technology, and Sustainable Agriculture. When not engaged in work and raising a family, she pursues her interest in native bees, plant/pollinator interactions, and climate change impacts on phenology. Allison joined SERC in 2001.

SERC Presents “Fuel Up with Hydrogen” Workshop for GATE Academy

GATE Academy students use a hydrogen fuel cell to power a fan and pass a flaming splint over a test tube to test for hydrogen gas.

GATE Academy students use a hydrogen fuel cell to power a fan and pass a flaming splint over a test tube to test for hydrogen gas.

Every January, local K-8 students converge on HSU for the annual GATE Academy. This event, coordinated by the Humboldt County Office of Education’s Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Program, provides GATE students with exciting learning opportunities not typically found in the classroom. SERC has participated in the GATE Academy since 2005.

This year, SERC docents Greg Pfotenhauer and Yaad Rana led 6th-8th grade students through an engaging and interactive hydrogen fuel cell lab activity. Using HyTEC equipment, students electrolyzed water to produce hydrogen fuel. They then used this hydrogen to run a fuel cell and operate a small fan. The lab activity began with a brief introduction to hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells, and the role hydrogen may play in our energy future. To bring the topic of hydrogen fuel out of the lab and into the real world, the workshop culminated in a tour of the HSU Hydrogen Fueling Station and Toyota FCHV-adv fuel cell vehicle.


HyTEC Teacher Training August 6-7, 2012

The Schatz Energy Research Center will be offering a 2-day Hydrogen Technology and Energy Curriculum (HyTEC) teacher training August 6-7 at Humboldt State University. This will be the last professional development opportunity for high school teachers interested in bringing HyTEC-funded hydrogen and fuel cell technology into the classroom.

SERC collaborated with the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley on development of the curriculum and experiment kits for teaching high school students in chemistry, environmental science, and physical science courses about hydrogen energy and fuel cells. Curriculum topics are correlated with National Science Teachers Association standards. The project has support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit Agency. Visit the project website here.

Teachers take data during the fuel cell lab experiment.

The curriculum has gone through extensive testing and is now being disseminated nationwide. The hydrogen experiment kits that were developed as part of the curriculum have recently gone into production by LabAids, a longtime partner of Lawrence Hall of Science. The kits are designed to be low-cost, but given very limited budgets at high schools these days, SERC and the Humboldt County Office of Education will act as regional hosts, providing a physical location where high school teachers can check out the kits. Teachers who participate in the training will also have access to additional resources at SERC, including staff and docent support during the lab portions of the curriculum. To bring the topic of hydrogen for transportation out of the classroom and into the real-world, SERC staff and docents can also provide tours of the Humboldt State University Hydrogen Fueling Station and demonstrate our Toyota Highlander fuel cell car.

High school Chemistry students pilot test the HyTEC.

The workshop will be led by scientists, engineers, and curriculum developers working on hydrogen and fuel cells. Workshop participants who reside in Humboldt County will receive a $200 stipend. Out-of-county participants will receive a $250 stipend. High school teachers of Environmental Science, Chemistry, or Physical Science are encouraged to register.

The one- to two-week flexible curriculum module includes an introduction to alternative energy for transportation, electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen fuel, use of the hydrogen produced to run hydrogen fuel cells and measure efficiency, and the chemistry of the fuel cell reaction. Practical applications and challenges of this technology and environmental issues related to energy use are also covered.

The kits available on loan to each participant include one complete set of teacher materials and eight complete sets of classroom materials, including eight experiment kits, appropriate for a classroom of 32 students working in groups of four.


HyTEC Manual Cover

Investigating Alternative Energy: Hydrogen & Fuel Cells was published by project partner Lab-Aids, Inc. in March 2011.

We are excited to announce that the Hydrogen Technology and Energy Curriculum (HyTEC) project’s high school chemistry module titled, Investigating Alternative Energy: Hydrogen & Fuel Cells was published by project partner Lab-Aids, Inc. in March 2011 (see the cover, below). The module is comprised of six activities and introduces students to hydrogen and fuel cells in the context of energy for transportation.

The publication of the module is the culmination of six years of hard work between SERC and Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS). There have been many meetings, teacher training workshops, and iterations with Barbara Nagle and her colleagues at LHS. It’s rewarding to see our curriculum published and available to high school students across the country.

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Student Work at SERC

UNPEPP Interns with Ray Cozby

Redwood National and State Parks Chief of Facilities Management Ray Cozby with energy interns Jeffrey Hinton, Lucas Siegfried, and Teresa Persons. (Photo credit SERC).

SERC welcomes eight student employees to our program, a two- fold increase in just one month. Four Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE) students joined our project researching the quality, performance, and cost of electric lanterns using white light emitting diode (WLED) technology: Ryan Vicente, James Apple, and Andrea Yarberry are quantifying the effects of indoor air pollution associated with the use of kerosene lanterns in Kenya; Patricia Lai is researching the issues associated with battery disposal due to the replacement of kerosene lanterns with WLED lamps.

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Hydrogen Technology and Education Curriculum

HyTEC teacher training

Local high school teachers participating in a HyTEC training workshop hosted by SERC (Photo Credit SERC)

Project partners Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) at UC Berkeley, SERC, and AC Transit Authority were recently awarded an additional $150,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to further develop the Hydrogen Technology and Education Curriculum (HyTEC). As subcontractor on this project, SERC’s involvement to date includes curriculum development, teacher training, pilot testing in the classroom, and the development of hands-on laboratory kits that feature student operated fuel cells and electrolyzers.

HyTEC is a two-week module targeted for high school chemistry and environmental science students that features hands-on laboratory activities, readings and calculations, and issues based role-play activities. We recently completed revisions to the curriculum based on feedback from California classroom pilot tests and teacher workshops. The additional DOE funding will help meet the project’s multi-year goal of national field testing and dissemination of the curriculum to a large, national audience of students and teachers.

Docents Get HyTEC

new docents fall 2006

New docents (left to right) Lucas Siegfried, Kristen Radecsky, Joe Purdon and James Apple. (Photo Credit SERC)

Fall has begun and with it a flurry of activity in our education and outreach program. We added four new docents to our program, three Environmental Systems graduate students and one undergraduate in Environmental Resources Engineering. Our program now has eight docents, our largest group thus far.

During their first week, docents received training in our Hydrogen Technology and Education Curriculum (HyTEC) electrolyzer/fuel cell lab equipment and then provided backup support for the HSU Engineering classes that performed the lab. Even though the HyTEC project was developed for high school chemistry students (as described below), the positive feedback received after performing the lab in college courses demonstrates how the lab can be readily incorporated into college level courses.

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Watts Up?

SERC docents

2005-2006 docents (left to right) Eric Zielke, David Kang, Colin Ritter, Melissa Caldwell, and Kevin Fancher. (Photo Credit SERC)

What’s the difference between energy and power? What’s a “Watt?” These are some of the questions students explored during SERC’s “Got Energy?” workshops at the annual Redwood Environmental Education Fair (REEF).

Each spring, elementary and middle school students throughout Humboldt County converge for two days to learn about environmental education. SERC has participated in this event since 2001. Workshop attendees played “Watts Up?”, an interactive game that motivates students to explore the difference between energy and power and inspires them to think about the use of energy in their lives. Workshops culminated with a solar electric circuit activity that challenged students to discover how to sound a solar powered buzzer. Students were excited about this activity; many of them asked how to get their own solar panels and buzzers in order to pursue solar energy and power at home.

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SERC Docents Bring Energy to the Community

H2 demo Lolapolloza

SERC docent shows off explaining renewable energy at the Lolapolloza music tour (Photo Credit SERC)

At SERC we aim to increase energy and environmental awareness by offering first-hand experience with clean energy technologies to students and the public. Our two-year-old docent program helps us accomplish this goal. SERC docents are motivated Humboldt State University (HSU) students interested in hydrogen and renewable energy. They share a common interest in the proliferation of renewable energy power systems in today’s society and voluntarily bring their knowledge out into the community.

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