Developing, Implementing, and Evaluating an Energy Education Unit for Sixth Grade Science at New London Middle School
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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Energy is an important part of all of our lives. We use energy everyday to run our automobiles, light our homes, and grow our food. Energy is necessary for how we live our lives however; we currently face an energy crisis. We now face problems of rolling blackouts and are predicted to run out of petroleum around the year 2080 (Martinez, 2002). Not only do we face energy shortages; we also are suffering the consequences of pollution from burning our nonrenewable energy resources. Acid rain, global warming, and mercury pollution are only just a few of the pollution problems. The pollution from burning fossil fuels has damaged the environment and caused health problems in people (Leon, 1992). A change is needed. A change in what we use to produce electricity and what we use to run our automobiles is needed for a sustainable future. And the first step toward a sustainable future is education. To educate the next generations about energy needs of the future, we must begin now. According to Hanson (1993), " ... students who participate in one of more Energy Source units during elementary school are substantially more knowledgeable about energy, more interested in it, and have better energy conservation habits." And this is the goal of the project, to have students participate in an energy education unit so that they will be more knowledgeable about energy, more interested in it, and have better energy conservation habits. To accomplish this goal, an energy education unit needed to be developed, implemented, and evaluated for the researcher's sixth grade science class at the New London Middle School. Before developing the new energy education unit, energy workshops and courses were attended and work with energy experts and independent research was done as well. Next, the unit was developed. In developing the unit, research done by Engleson and Yockers in A Guide to Curriculum Planning in Environmental Education was followed. According to Engleson and Yockers, as with other environmental education units, in an energy education unit students need to participate in activities that teach energy awareness, knowledge, values, citizen action skills, and citizen action as well as activities that use student-centered instructional strategies. Information learned from energy research and energy education experiences were used to develop a new energy education unit. In the spring of 2003, the control group received a pre-test, instruction from the current energy education unit, and then the post-test. Then in the spring of 2004, the experimental group received the pre-test, instruction from the developed energy education unit, and then the post-test. The results were as hypothesized and student energy knowledge increased and energy conservation values became more positive as a result of receiving instruction from the developed energy education unit. The results of the research show that the developed energy education unit helps students gain a better understanding of energy knowledge and more positive energy conservation values. The developed energy education will be used and additions will be made as energy education evolves. The use and continued improvement of the developed energy education unit is necessary so that students are able to make educated energy decisions in their lives.