Welcome back to school, teachers! Can it really be that time again? All of us who are fortunate to work with teachers and students know that summer is a busy time. We refresh, we attend and deliver professional development, we try to take some much-needed vacation, and we start planning for the upcoming school year.
Over the summer, all of us at The NEED Project have worked with hundreds of teachers and students to help them integrate more energy information and lessons into their classrooms and afterschool programs. Without a doubt, one of the most popular resources we use is Energy Kids, the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) site for students and teachers. Energy Kids is an extraordinary — and free — resource for teachers and students at all grade levels. Hosted by Energy Ant, the site provides facts, statistics, and educational graphics about the energy sources we use today, the science of energy, electricity generation, transportation, and energy efficiency.
As we all think about our energy education efforts this fall, we thought it would be a good idea to share some of the tools that Energy Kids offers. Are your students confused about therms, cubic feet, and British thermal units? Energy Kids has Energy Calculators designed specifically to help compare the units used to measure energy. The lessons about how we measure, buy and sell energy resources are every day lessons we hear about on the news. If you have students who always say “How big is it?” “How much is that?” These calculators are for them.
Energy Kids also provides resources for teaching about the history of energy and the people who paved the way for energy usage as we know it today. These include Energy Timelines and Famous People pages. Have a lesson that has students researching famous people and writing or presenting about them? Why not choose one of these energy pioneers?
As students expand their vocabulary about energy and energy issues, checking out the Energy Glossary is a great idea. And from there, you can check out how some of the oddest energy terms — Christmas trees? Cat crackers? Dog houses? — come from the slang used by the energy industry. Energy Slang is a huge favorite among teachers and students — it is a must see.
There are so many great resources available on Energy Kids. Take some time, introduce your students to the pages, check out the Teacher Guide to using Energy Kids and go ahead and have your students embark upon the Energy Kids Scavenger Hunt too. Energy Ant, with help from the great team at EIA, helps students (and adults, too) understand the basics of how energy is produced and used.
Energy Ant has traveled the globe visiting energy facilities and sharing his experiences with students and teachers in the Energy Ant Journal. Want to understand how refineries, offshore platforms, nuclear power stations and more energy facilities work? Energy Ant has been there and can help students understand what goes on behind the fence at many of the nation’s largest energy facilities.
Just this past June, Energy Ant was a special guest at the 32nd Annual NEED Youth Awards for Energy Achievement hosted in Washington, D.C. With more than 750 teachers and students in attendance to receive awards for outstanding energy education efforts in their local communities, Energy Ant toured Washington, D.C. and students looked for him around the city. Students who found him learned more about energy and received valuable energy prizes. It was a hot day, but everyone (including Energy Ant) had a good time.
So from all of us in energy education to you and your students— welcome back, have a great school year, and we hope you’ll find the resources and tools you need to make teaching and learning about energy fun!
Mary E. Spruill
Executive Director, National Energy Education Development