Environmental Education: Understanding Energy Resources & Consumption

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 10:00am

Despite the emphasis on national and state science standards, few students understand much about energy and our nation's resources.

As the debate about the sustainability of the American lifestyle heats up, it is increasingly important that young people understand the science behind energy resources. And yet, in a recent study of 1,043 eighth-grade students, Alec Bodzin, associate professor of teaching, learning and technology, found that many students do not understand energy acquisition, generation, storage, consumption or conservation.

Information about energy resources is included prominently in U.S. national science and environmental education curriculum and state standards. Concepts pertaining to energy resources are also listed in the strand maps of the Association for the Advancement of Science’s Atlas of Science Literacy as important learning goals that should be achieved by students by the completion of eighth grade.

They are standards that, simply, are not being met. “It appears that the implementation of energy resources curriculum in middle schools is lacking in conceptually rich and personally relevant learning experiences,” says Bodzin,who is also a member of Lehigh’s Environmental Initiative.

To help increase understanding of energy resources, Bodzin and a team of researchers developed a new teaching unit incorporating geospatial learning technologies with support from the Toyota USA Foundation. The initial findings show more significant knowledge gains by students using his idea for an energy curriculum.

Research Focus: 
Science, Technology, Arts and Math Teaching Practices
Field of Expertise: 
Science/Technology/Engineering and Arts