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A new guide, "Energy Literacy: Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts for Energy Education", has been released by the US Department of Energy in March of 2012. The guide identifies seven essential principles and a set of fundamental concepts to support each principle. The intended audience for this framework is anyone involved in energy education.
Development of this guide began at a workshop sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in the fall of 2010. Multiple federal agencies, non-governmental organizations (including MMSA, the Maine Mathematics and Science Association), and numerous individuals contributed to development of the guide through an extensive review and comment process.
Discussion and information gathered at AAAS, WestEd and DOE-sponsored energy literacy workshops in the spring of 2011 contributed substantially to the refinement of the guide.
The guide may be downloaded at the website of the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
In the release notes for the guide, Matthew Maguire Inman, the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow of the United States Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy writes:
Information for the new stakeholder:
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What we're doing & why - To better educate Americans, DOE is leading a collaborative effort, the Energy Literacy Initiative (ELI), to define and promote energy literacy. If more people had a basic understanding of energy, resources, generation and efficiency, families and businesses could make more informed decisions on ways to save money by saving energy. More broadly, people would better understand the energy landscape, allowing them to better understand local, national and international energy policy. Current national and global issues such as safeguarding the environment and our nation’s energy security highlight the need for energy education.
The model for the framework - Energy Literacy: Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts for Energy Education, follows a model established by previous literacy projects such as:
What is in the document? - The document provides context, background and definitions, along with identifying the essential principles and fundamental concepts that underlie energy literacy. An inherently interdisciplinary topic, energy education involves civics, geography, social studies, history, economics, sociology, technology, engineering, and the natural sciences. Energy Literacy: Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts for Energy Education touches on all of these subjects. The guide highlights what is essential for all citizens to know. The fundamental concepts have been drawn, in part, from existing education standards and benchmarks.
Who and what is the document for? - Although everyone is encouraged to read and use Energy Literacy: Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts for Energy Education, it is specifically intended for the energy educator. The document will be used in multiple contexts and as a guide for energy education at all age levels. For example, formal educators such as K-12 and university educators will use it as a resource for curriculum design, and for standards and assessment development. Community, museum and library educators will use it as a resource when designing education and outreach opportunities specific to their venues and audiences. Ultimately, the goal of the our energy literacy effort is to foster a culture of smart energy decisions in business, at home, and throughout our communities on a national level.
Our energy literacy community - DOE’s energy literacy efforts bring together stakeholders from federal agencies, universities, community colleges, professional societies, national labs, power utilities, museums, community organizations, business and industry, interested members of the public and more. Through public meetings and online collaborative tools, these stakeholders have contributed a great deal, informing the document and demonstrating a passion for energy education. Stakeholder input helped create a thoughtful, measured approach to energy literacy and a quality document.
We have the document, now what? - Energy Literacy: Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts for Energy Education is not a curriculum, thus a second phase to our efforts is essential. This next phase will focus on developing education and outreach materials to accompany the framework, establishing alignments between existing materials and the energy principles and concepts, and providing energy education opportunities for people across the nation. DOE is calling on educators, academic institutions, federal agencies, industry, organizations, and beyond to increase support for energy education. Success in meeting the energy education challenge depends on the involvement and efforts of institutions and individuals nationwide.
Thank you for being involved."