Overarching ideas from Teaching Energy workshop

These themes were drawn from a discussion of all workshop participants at the conclusion of the workshop.

Energy Topics

  • Citizenship literacy as an end goal of teaching about energy
  • Having energy resources can be either beneficial or detrimental to the local culture – historical and case studies can help illuminate these differences (for example, Norway vs Nigeria).
  • Emphasize multiple potential, sustainable solutions not just problems. Leave students with a sense of hope and an outlook that decisions made today have powerful effects on the future.
  • Current commercial world energy structure is considered to be unsustainable for multiple reasons.
  • Traditional energy sources can't be ignored while we focus on renewable. There is a need to understand the whole scenario and tradeoffs that involved --- science, economics, environment, values.

Pedagogic Strategies

  • Energy is an interdisciplinary topic – don't be afraid to engage social, political and economic aspects and the diversity of individual and cultural values. Geoscience is an important part of this interdisciplinary mix and should not be left out.
  • Recommended teaching tactics can include case studies, field trips, personalizing energy use, quantitative activities, geospatial analysis, and using campus as a resource.
  • Use student group work on field trip and plan learning outcomes from field trips
  • The sheer magnitude and scale of issues is hard to express and is difficult for students to grasp.
  • Energy is a great opportunity to help students develop quantitative skills. Calculations are critical to understanding scale and tradeoffs.
  • Energy is an indispensible part of the Earth system and teaching with an Earth systems approach.
  • Many aspects of studying energy are place-specific or can best be understood in a particular geographic context.
  • Energy can be incorporated in any class at any level – we need to do this more. Repetition is important here (rule of 5).
  • Active engagement permeated this workshop.
  • When designing activities, set the goals first and assessment second. Class design is driven by these factors.
  • Energy decisions are a highly personal thing, these can't be made well without understanding the science; therefore this is a great topic for making science personal and relevant. Active lifestyle engagement is an effective educational strategy.
  • Energy concepts cross from K-12 to undergraduate. Personalization is a key theme in K-12 that can be continued in undergraduate levels. Many of the skill sets we depend on at the undergraduate level will be developed in K-12, so we can collaborate on which skills are important, how to develop them, and how to make the connection between K-12 and undergrad more explicit for students as they move across this boundary.

Next Steps

  • There are substantial tools, resources, activities and ideas for teaching energy that can be investigated and should be organized through our website. Our initial collections represent a strong start in articulating what is currently taking place.
  • Collaborative/team activity and course design was an effective strategy – can we keep doing this?
  • Continue to use our network to discuss activities/courses/ideas; review how well work; update activities; review resources for one another
  • Greg, Karin, Glenn and Christine are going to organize a GSA session for 2010 on teaching about energy where we will all showcase what we have done between now and then – field tested courses and activities. Pardee symposium Energy and Geoscience: science, education and policy. Lisa will spearhead efforts for a similar AGU session.
  • For 2009, consider papers in other themed sessions (GSA and AGU)
  • Seek funding for an ongoing Energy workshop for teachers K-16 – Fred, Allen
  • Investigate webinars on themes identified at the workshop.