In the classroom, a lack of energy education | North Carolina | Indy Week
Pin It

In the classroom, a lack of energy education 

Krista Lee, an honors earth science and biology teacher at Durham's Voyager School, lists recycling as a course requirement, even if the state curriculum doesn't. "It's amazing how little some of these kids know about it," Lee said. "Some students bring in plastic bags and Orbit gum boxes, wondering if they're recyclable."

Lee is at Station 5, where participants can speak with a teacher who has used a Power House, which allows students to learn about sustainable energy habits by simulating heating, cooling and insulation techniques on a miniature model home and greenhouse.

Along one wall, diagrams compare the economical, societal and environmental impacts of coal, natural gas, Uranium 235 and wind and solar energy. Outside, Station 2 has two household fans set up to generate wind for various wind turbine kits. Inside, Station 3 hosts a specialist on geothermal energy, ready to share his knowledge.

This is the Solar and Wind Energy Activities session of a workshop hosted by the UNC Institute for the Environment earlier this month. Middle and high school science teachers learned how to make energy issues come alive for students in the classroom.

That is more difficult than it seems. Teachers said they are frustrated at the state's outdated energy curriculum. Coverage of energy-related topics is "terrible," Lee said. "It's not really taught in any depth except at the AP Environmental Science level."

As a result, many students are barely aware of energy issues—the impacts of coal, nuclear and renewable sources, for example—much less educated on them.

"Overall, students have a basic terminology with energy but there's not a lot of exposure," said Cole Wilson, a physics and earth science teacher at rural Lee County High School. "It is still very foreign and not necessary to their life. We do touch on things like the negative aspects of coal, but without offering solutions."

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction did not respond to the Indy's request for comment by press time Tuesday.

There is little classroom time devoted to energy topics because of the rigidity of mandated coursework. "We are so stuck with teaching to a test," Allison Lewis, a Cumberland County ninth-grade earth science teacher said.

Indeed, when energy literacy is made relevant, students seem to react well. For example, when the Triangle experienced a severe drought in 2007, Lee's classes learned about water conservation. Students "ate it up, because that's what was going on now," she said.

This is part of the challenge: to help kids understand how what they learn in the classroom relates to their own lifestyle and energy usage—and how to minimize their carbon footprint.

"It's up to them to figure it out," Wilson said. That will start happening "when we bring it to them and show them there is a necessity to change, that it's not a tree-hugger lifestyle."

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in North Carolina



Twitter Activity

Comments

All other Duke power State such as Kentucky Virginia Tennessee Etc have lower face charges than North Carolina by 30 …

by Jim DuBreck on Ties to Duke Energy abound in N.C. Utilities Commission appointees (North Carolina)

I worked on several Murphy-Brown LLC farms over the course of a few years. They are guilty of all charges.

by MichaelEdits on The First of the Murphy-Brown Hog-Farm Nuisance Trials Began in Raleigh This Week (North Carolina)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

All other Duke power State such as Kentucky Virginia Tennessee Etc have lower face charges than North Carolina by 30 …

by Jim DuBreck on Ties to Duke Energy abound in N.C. Utilities Commission appointees (North Carolina)

I worked on several Murphy-Brown LLC farms over the course of a few years. They are guilty of all charges.

by MichaelEdits on The First of the Murphy-Brown Hog-Farm Nuisance Trials Began in Raleigh This Week (North Carolina)

People need to face reality. Some posters show that they do not face reality or the truth of the matter, …

by Josephine Bass on Why Can’t North Carolina Let Go of the Lost Cause? (North Carolina)

They are a reminder of what white people did to try to maintain power and wealth. It was one of …

by Aiden on Why Can’t North Carolina Let Go of the Lost Cause? (North Carolina)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation