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Essential Energy Educationissues, careers, classroom resources

Explaining Science With Ten Hundred Words!

Author: ; Published: Apr 26, 2013; Category: Energy, Energy Education; Tags: , , ; Comments: Comments Off


Ask an engineer what they do for a living and sometimes you’ll get a mouthful of jargon and very little understanding of what he or she actually studies.

That’s where the “Ten Hundred Words of Science” challenge comes in. Inspired by internet comic artist Randall Munroe, who recently used only the 1,000 most common words in the English language to describe the Saturn V rocket, scientists from every field are now experimenting with this limited word list to explain their own work.

Go HERE to view parse impenetrable scientific terminology into everyday language when describing complex science!

One example is the web comic panel “The Up-Goer Five” shown as a snapshot below. In this annotated blueprint, he describes each piece of the complex rocket that took American astronauts to the moon, eliminating complicated technical terms in favor of explanations everyone can understand.

Cool stuff!


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The Switch Energy Project – Building Awareness Through Energy Education

Author: ; Published: Jun 14, 2012; Category: Energy Education; Tags: , , , ; Comments: Comments Off

Energy is the most important issue of our time.

It impacts the economy, the environment, food and water, population, everything. To understand these challenges, we first need to understand energy.

The Switch Energy Project began in 2008 when documentary filmmaker Harry Lynch met geologist Dr. Scott Tinker through another film project. The two agreed on the incredible importance of energy awareness and efficiency, and in 2009 set out to make a film that explored our energy future, and made the world of energy fascinating and relevant to the general viewer.

Over the following three years of production and editing, the goals for the project expanded to include the video library, the university and primary education programs, and eventually a TV/web series, all delivered and organized on Visit the site for videos, movie screenings dates, trailers and an abundance of energy education.

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Hands-On or Hands-Off… Which is More Beneficial to Students?

Author: ; Published: Mar 29, 2012; Category: Education outreach, Energy Education; Tags: , , , , ; Comments: Comments Off

There are different ways to teach. Each student learns differently and there is no right or wrong way. The goal is that the subject matter resonates and that the student understands. That being said, we took a short survey here at Energy4me posing the question “Hands-On or Hands-Off” regarding the best way information resonates and/or assists one in understanding the material.

The results are in… 100% of the participants selected “Hands-On.” Though it is not a total representation of students across the world, it’s a general consensus amongst people in our network that hands-on works the best. That speaks to us. That speaks to teachers.

As we venture deeper into the 21st century, where the availability of information is so readily available thanks to the technical age we live in with Google and other search engines/aids on our smartphones and tablets, it’s important now more than ever to reinforce visuals and things we can hold in our hands as valuable, teachable tools. Maybe instead of just showing that 3D map of where the state capitals and countries are, how about we bring out a globe and let the students twirl it and place stickers and pins on those places; or even a visit to their state capital where they can sit-in on a court proceeding. Instead of only watching a video about animal tendencies and features, that we take them to a zoo where they can see and hold animals and vegetation in their hands?

Instead of only looking at pictures of technology exhibits and new innovations, how about we take them to places like the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) where they can touch, stand on and get expert insight from the person that built the technology… wouldn’t that help?

Fortunately, we have teachers like you that continue to realize hands-on is not just a chance to get out of the classroom and from behind a book: it’s a chance for students to write their own… with hands-on knowledge.

Energy4me employs the 5E instructional model.This model is a teaching sequence that can be used for entire programs, specific units and individual lessons. Energy4me lesson plans support the 5E constructivist learning cycle, helping students build their own understanding from experiences and new ideas.

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Is Technology Changing our Brains?

Author: ; Published: Mar 22, 2012; Category: Classroom materials, Energy Education, Science; Tags: , , , , , ; Comments: Comments Off

By Marva Morrow

For better or worse, technology is here to stay! Everything we do causes changes in the brain and the things we do a lot are most likely to cause long term changes. What is unclear is how modern technology influences the brain and the consequences this has.

According to an article published in, brain researcher Susan Greenfield claims, “’mind change’ as a result of using modern technology is one of humanity’s greatest threats. I haven’t met one parent or teacher who doesn’t think we should be talking about this. Just restricting children’s access to the internet isn’t very helpful. Instead, I would ask: What can we offer children that is even more compelling, fulfilling, exciting? We should be planning a 3D environment for our children [to enjoy] instead of putting them in front of a 2D one.” *1

Energy4me lesson plans support the 5E constructivist learning cycle, helping students build their own understanding from experiences and new ideas.

Through many studies based on brain research, educators have explored links between classroom teaching and emerging theories about how people learn. Exciting discoveries in neuroscience and continued developments in cognitive psychology have presented new ways of thinking about the brain-the human neurological structure and the attendant perceptions and emotions that contribute to learning. *2

Based on brain research, technology provides opportunities to use such important science of learning principles as pre-existing knowledge, active learning, mental models, transfer, and learning for understanding. A list of disconnected facts doesn’t lead to deep understanding or to easy transfer of knowledge from one situation to another. However, knowledge that is organized and connected around important concepts and mastery, which includes being able to visualize a concept, does lead to transfer and deeper, longer understanding.

“Because many new technologies are interactive, it is now easier to create environments in which students can learn by doing, receive feedback, and continually refine their understanding and build new knowledge,” according to How People Learn. The new technologies can also help people visualize difficult-to-understand concepts.

The verdict is in: The Brain can and does change! Technology is and will continue to have changing effects on our brains. Educators are understanding the importance of being able to transfer knowledge from one context to another and that it is “better to ‘broadly educate’ people than simply ‘train’ them to perform particular tasks.” Students cannot achieve high levels of performance without access to skilled professional teachers, adequate classroom time, a rich array of learning materials and the resources of the the communities surrounding their schools. Learning science is something that students must do through “hands-on” and “minds on” activities.

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*1 Oxford scientist calls for research on technology ‘mind change’, Tuesday 14 September 2010.*2 Edutopia, Brain-Based Research Prompts Innovative Teaching Techniques in the Classroom Educators explore nontraditional methods of teaching and receive positive results. By Diane Curtis.* 3  How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. First published in 1999 and written by a  committee of scholars established by the National Research Council

Going From STEM to STEAM — The Arts Have a Role in America’s Future, Too

Author: ; Published: Feb 16, 2012; Category: Energy, Math, Science, Technology; Tags: , , , , , ; Comments: Comments Off

Joseph Piro, Education Week

In education circles, STEM—the teaching of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—has been gathering, for want of a better descriptor, “alpha” status. Not only has President Barack Obama announced a $250 million public-private initiative to recruit and train more STEM teachers, but also the U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top Fund grants competition is giving bonus points for applications that stress STEM instruction.

This funding is on top of the nearly $700 million the federal government already spends on science and math education programs within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies. Factor in what’s earmarked by individual states for STEM and a picture emerges of where a lot of tax money is rightfully going.

This generous support is being allocated in the belief (or fear) that the United States is becoming less competitive and secure, that we are losing our global-leader status in STEM fields and being eclipsed by other countries, mostly in Asia.

Yet, in the midst of all the STEM frenzy, we may want to do something riskier, and more imaginative, to save the country: turn STEM funding into STEAM funding. Inserting the letter A, for the arts, into the acronym could afford us even greater global advantage.

Many may be puzzled by this statement, considering that the arts have held a traditionally marginalized place in both American society and the school curriculum. And, in the eyes of some, support for the arts has a dubious payback, especially in areas of national concern such as defense, homeland security, and technology. The arts are something we do when we stop being serious. Friday afternoons spent drawing turkeys, pumpkins, and valentines in more classrooms than one might think can attest to this.

But just consider the following. A 2008 study from the National Endowment for the Arts, “Artists in the Workforce,” showed that individuals involved in the arts represent a sizable branch of the labor force, only slightly smaller than the total number of active-duty and reserve personnel in the U.S. military. What may also be surprising to some is that artists make up a larger occupational group than lawyers, medical doctors, or agricultural workers. The size of the artistic community gives it an astonishing $70 billion aggregate annual income. The country’s $316 billion communication and entertainment business employs a diverse range of artists, including musicians, actors, filmmakers, videographers, and architects. It is probably safe to say that most of these people prepared for their careers by participating in some sort of arts education program…


Joseph Piro is an associate professor of curriculum and instruction in the school of education at Long Island University’s C.W. Post campus, in Brookville, N.Y.

Teachers, what do you think?