According to the University of Northern Iowa Center for Social and Behavioral Research, “Educating youth about current and future issues may be as vital as teaching them writing and arithmetic.” It is crucial for early education on energy to “help students choose sustainable energy sources and practice positive energy behaviors to benefit all sectors of society, their home, and themselves.” They believe a sustainable energy future can be achieved within the lifetime of today’s K-12 students.
In order to provide a benchmark for potential improvements to energy education in Iowa, the Center for Social and Behavioral Research ran the Iowa K-12 Energy Education Assessment Project with a grant from Iowa Energy Center. The goal for the project was to describe the current state of energy education in Iowa and to identify high-priority needs in K-12 energy education.
After assembling a team of organizations and individuals in STEM education, energy efficiency, and renewable energy fields, researchers conducted a review of requirements, goals, and recommendations related to renewable energy and energy efficiency. An education assessment was also performed to identify models and resources for K-12 energy education. Following the assessments they conducted an analysis to identify and prioritize needs in K-12 energy education in Iowa.
The team’s findings show Iowa’s current K-12 requirements for energy education are weak, but improving. Energy education opportunities for youth and teachers to increase knowledge and skills in energy concepts are available. There is a major imbalance, however, in the number of programs that serve youth versus those used to train teachers. The team also discovered that the number of opportunities and resources for energy concepts decreases in higher grades.
In addition, teachers face several barriers to energy education including class and preparation time, lack of resources and materials, lack of professional preparation, and lack of awareness of energy curriculum, among others. The study suggested better access to energy education resources and more in-service classes on energy concepts and teaching methods.
Many in energy and education fields agree that making enhancements to the way energy concepts are taught in Iowa classrooms is important. To make the necessary changes, the perspective of those in the field must be taken into consideration. They recommend the creation and marketing of an energy education database to provide resources for educators and energy professionals in Iowa.
Find more information on the Final Report in our grant library.