Should Energy Conservation be Taught in Schools and What Should it Teach?

Energy conservation needs to become something every human being practices. Reducing energy use and increasing energy efficiency help improve the quality of our environment. Not only that, people who practice good energy conservation techniques will save money by limiting their use of energy resources. These techniques need to be taught in school in order to pass down the importance of preserving the earth’s resources to our children, and our children’s children. The reason for this is that just like any healthy skill or habit, it needs to be taught and impressed on children at a young age. This allows young children to learn and develop good practices of energy conservation and increase their knowledge of it as they grow.

Experts agree that the younger you start developing a child’s habits the more likely they are to retain those habits for the rest of their lives. Learning and developing fundamental energy conservation strategies, should be taught to children as young as 4 and 5 years old so those habits mature with age and never leave.

Now you don’t want to inundate young minds with depressing environmental realities. Teachers and schools need to make sure that what they are teaching children is age-appropriate. For example, you don’t want to teach a young child that they need to conserve water when brushing their teeth or taking a bath because if they don’t they won’t have any water to drink in the future and will die because there is a very limited supply of fresh water in the world. Not only is this way too complicated for a child to mentally process, it can and should be taught without going into all the specifics of why saving water is important. There are many books and websites that offer great energy conservation teaching techniques that can be effective without getting into all the depressing details surrounding them. Parents and teachers need to start by broaching these topics and techniques slowly, and then get into the more mature subjects when the child is at an age where they will be better understood. Simply teaching children that developing and practicing these eco-friendly techniques is good for the Earth will be explanation enough for them to want to help.

Schools are perhaps the best environment to teach kids about energy conservation. They have the resources and teachers necessary to make learning about it a cooperative group effort while still making it fun. Teachers can also impart this knowledge by setting a good example by modeling proactive energy saving habits, such as turning off the lights when they are not being used and unplugging unused technology. Planting gardens and tress, as well as, learning about endangered species by going to the zoo are other great activities that will make a positive impression on young minds.

Here are some of the specific things that should be taught to children in school about energy conservation.

  1. The Basics of Energy
  • Children need to learn about what energy is, where it comes from, and why it is important.
  • They need to be taught that energy is the ability to do work and that it can come from heat, light, motion, electricity, etc.
  • That energy is needed to do pretty much anything, from walking to school, to driving to grandma’s house. In order to for your body to be able to get up and walk requires you to eat food and drink liquids. This in turn, provides the body with the energy needed to perform any task. The same goes for the car. It needs to be filled with gasoline to power the engine to make the wheels move.
  1. Renewable and Nonrenewable Energy
  • Knowledge that the various sources of energy can either be renewable or nonrenewable is important for students to learn in regard to energy conservation. They need to understand that some resources are only available in a limited amount and cannot be easily recreated, while others can be easily replenished.
  • Children will also need to understand that energy resources can be manufactured into heat and electricity by a variety of different processes.
  • Children should be taught to identify renewable resources such as, solar energy from the sun, wind energy, geothermal energy produced by the heat from inside the earth, biological resources like trees, corn, and other plants and lastly hydroelectric power from moving water.
  • Nonrenewable energy should be focused on as well. Teachers should explain that this is where most of the energy powering our world comes from.
  • That fossil fuels are the most widely used, nonrenewable resources, and they include, (oil, natural gas, and coal).
  • Need to know that they are named fossil fuels because of how they are formed, over millions and millions of years of pressure and heat from the earth’s core turning the remains of dead plants and other living creatures into oil, gas, and coal
  • Also, learn that other nonrenewable energy sources exist, such as nuclear energy.
  1. Environmental Effects
  • Understand the ways various energy sources impact the environment, the impact of land and water usage, pollution caused by emissions, and the different types of waste products.
  • Students need to learn what greenhouse gasses are, how they relate to fossil fuels and their effects on the environment.
  • How the ways in which we use energy to heat and light our homes, manufacture products, and travel use energy from resources, and effect the environment.
  1. Ways to Conserve
  • Learn about ways in which our energy use can be lessened by making responsible choices.
  • Understand the difference between energy conservation and energy efficiency. We can find many ways to use less energy by conservation, but also find more efficient ways to use that energy.
  • How to develop habits and behaviors which result in less energy use, turning lights and appliances off when not in use, using energy efficient light bulbs, windows, cars, etc.
  • Learn about recyclable materials and the importance of recycling and how it helps conserve energy.