Ah, middle school. A time not exactly known or remembered for its energy education. If I think back really hard, I recall learning the basics—potential energy versus kinetic, how energy is extracted and a little bit about generating electricity. I certainly don’t remember learning anything that would become applicable to my adult life, such as the difference between a furnace and an HVAC system, which is important if you own a home! I’m not saying my middle school science education was subpar, it’s just that no one was really talking about energy the way we do now. Students today are learning more than I ever did about sustainability, climate change, and being more energy efficient.
One of my favorite parts of my job in DEP’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Energy Assistance (OPPEA) is working to help educate the public, local governments, schools, commercial businesses and more on real world energy topics. OPPEA is working hard to improve the energy literacy of all Pennsylvanians. For example, how many people are under the misperception that if you want to be warmer or cooler that you just turn the thermostat up really high or down really low? Heating systems are not like a gas pedal on the car - energy doesn’t work that way!
Over the next few months, DEP will be providing six free workshops for teachers across the commonwealth so that our children can learn the right way to manage their energy. By increasing students’ energy literacy, we create smarter energy users for the future.
At these workshops, teachers will be led through the energy pathway of the Eco-Schools USA program. The Eco-Schools program provides a clear framework, including 12 health and environmental pathways and a recognition opportunity. These free workshops provide teachers tools, tips, and techniques to assist students in understanding energy efficiency, alternative energy, and fuels, and how to work with students to do an energy audit at school. Workshop participants will learn about and explore energy conservation, efficiency, energy basics, student energy teams, and benchmarking the school building using the free Energy Star Portfolio Manager program through presentations, tours, and hands-on activities.
If you are or know a teacher who is looking to create energy literate students, or a school that has a green or eco-team ready to tackle a school’s (or community’s or home’s) energy use, let them know about our workshop! Let’s help make middle school a time remembered for its awesome energy and environmental education programs!
For registration and more information on the workshops, visit DEP's Ticketleap page.