Working to Expand Energy Literacy

By Anthony (Bud) Rock

Many of the world’s leading experts are projecting that energy demand will grow 37% by 2035. There is clearly a need for increased energy literacy. With this in mind, ASTC and the Museum Institute for Teaching Science (MITS), in partnership with BP America, have launched a new Energy Education Initiative designed to increase young people’s energy literacy by strengthening informal science educator training and teacher professional development (PD) on the subject. Through this initiative, science centers and museums will provide teachers, students, and families with resources and activities to help them better understand energy concepts and the important role that energy plays in society.

ASTC’s engagement in this initiative reflects the wide array of energy-related programming already offered in science centers and museums across the globe—some of which are highlighted in the March/April 2016 issue of Dimensions, ASTC’s magazine. Science centers and museums are ideally suited to support teachers in creating exciting new ways to teach important science topics, such as energy, to children and youth.

Through the initiative, ASTC will assemble best practices–based, energy-focused teacher training modules. As a first step, ASTC has worked with its member museums to capture effective practices for delivering teacher PD around energy and is sharing this information during a series of workshops held in science centers and museums across the United States over the course of the year. For more information, visit here.

ASTC recently launched a web platform that provides easy access to all the materials curated by this project, including digital guides, curricula, and related energy teaching resources. It is an essential tool for ASTC-member institutions, educators, and parents interested in leading energy literacy–related activities. The web platform is constantly developing, and ASTC members are invited to submit their events and resources on the site.

The initiative supports the objectives set forth in the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that ASTC signed with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Office of Economic Impact and Diversity. Through this MOU, ASTC has also helped connect the Department of Energy (DOE) with ASTC members who are geographically aligned with DOE National Laboratories in an effort to put DOE scientists in front of young people via DOE-sponsored STEM Mentoring Cafés. We are excited about our partnerships with DOE, MITS, and BP America, as well as the ASTC-sponsored opportunities to address important energy issues in science centers and museums everywhere.

Anthony (Bud) Rock is ASTC’s president and CEO.