K–12 curriculum: Exploring sustainable energy use

Published on: 
9 Mar 2018
Author: 
Kristen Keim

As our dependency on nonrenewable resources continues to grow, the need for educating future generations on energy efficiency and renewable resources grows exponentially. Learning Lab addresses this need with engaging, standards-aligned lessons from our new education partner Facing the Future.

From this partner comes Fueling our Future: Exploring Sustainable Energy Use, featuring six lessons for grades 3–5 and eight lessons for grades 9–12 available through a Learning Lab subscription.

In this Q&A, Zoe Donat, Social Media Coordinator of Facing the Future, shares why teaching and learning about sustainable energy use is a key component in working toward a more sustainable future for all:

Why is energy education in the classroom important for all ages?

"Students must understand that societies need to pursue development that meets both the needs of the present and future generations."

Energy fuels our lives. Every day, we make decisions about what natural minerals to use, how fast to use them and what to do with them when we’re done. Most of our actions and behaviors stem from our experiences—how we were raised, the environment we grew up in and our education.

In America, the majority of K–12 education does not stress the importance of environmental conservation, climate change, renewable energy and global sustainable development. Energy consumption is deeply rooted in a wide range of local and global issues, from climate change to economic development and resource scarcity.

The world’s energy needs are currently supplied primarily by nonrenewable fossil fuels. As we deplete the planet’s supply, we can expect the cost of energy to rise, creating a cascade of impacts across global markets.

At the same time, our dependence on fossil fuels has a growing environmental impact. Our energy choices can be part of sustainable solutions to critical challenges facing the world today. Taking a close look at human energy use at an early age is a critical component of working toward sustainable societies, economies and environments. To do this, students must understand that societies need to pursue development that meets both the needs of the present and future generations.

How does Fueling our Future connect students to the curriculum?

"Students reflect on how energy is connected to their own lives, analyze personal energy consumption and investigate energy systems."

These lessons help students engage in relevant and authentic exploration of sustainable energy use. Students reflect on how energy is connected to their own lives, analyze personal energy consumption and investigate pathways to energy systems that could ensure access to energy for generations to come. Through interactive activities and real-world case studies, learners explore multiple perspectives to increase their knowledge of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources and demonstrate their understanding in many different ways.

If you could only suggest one lesson to a teacher, which would it be?

"In Lesson 3, students design an energy map to visually represent their personal energy use."

The lessons in Fueling Our Future are designed and arranged so that students are able to develop a foundation of knowledge to systematically build on. However, our favorite lesson in Fueling our Future: Exploring Sustainable Energy Use for grades 3–5 is Lesson 3, Mapping My Energy Use. In this lesson, students are able to reflect, brainstorm and categorize the different ways that they use energy, as well as design an energy map to visually represent their personal energy use.

Explore the Fueling our Future lessons