Hitchcock Educators Announce Newly Developed Energy is Electrifying! Curriculum

April 14, 2014
For Immediate Release
Contact Julie Johnson, Executive Director

Amherst, MA – Hitchcock Center for the Environment educators Micky McKinley and Patty O’Donnell announced the official release of their newly developed Energy is Electrifying! curriculum at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Annual Conference in Boston on April 4th to an audience of 75 teachers from across the United States.

The grade 4 unit incorporates the nationally-­‐ developed Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), with an environmental literacy focus. The NSTA workshop provided teachers with an overview of the 11-­‐day unit, and an opportunity to engage in hands-­‐on renewable energy activities that can be used in the classroom. Contact the Hitchcock Center for the free curriculum.

Aligning classroom instruction with nationally-­‐developed NGSS standards, the Energy is Electrifying! curriculum unit provides teachers with an engaging structure to deepen student understanding of human energy production and use. Support for developing the Energy is Electrifying! curriculum was provided to the Hitchcock Center by the US Environmental Protection Agency through a grant program administered by the New England Environmental Education Alliance. The Hitchcock Center is excited about integrating the new NGSS science standards and best practices in teaching for environmental literacy.

The Energy is Electrifying! unit grew out of the Hitchcock Center’s work in classrooms educating upper elementary and middle school students about energy – where do we get it, how is it generated, how do we use it, and what impacts does energy have on the natural systems of the planet? Hitchcock’s Energy Literacy Project will continue to educate about energy issues in our local classrooms. During the 2013‐14 and 2014­‐15 school years Hitchcock educators will be introducing 20 teachers and 450 students to this topic using up-­‐to-­‐date content and media presentations, engaging hands-­‐on activities, classroom discussion, and assessments. This project lays the foundation with students for later understanding of global climate change and the importance of energy conservation and environmental sustainability in a positive, age-­‐appropriate way. Funding for development of the curriculum was provided by a $7,200 grant from the Francis R. Dewing Foundation.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a new approach for teaching science recommended by a broad-­‐based educational coalition from twenty-­‐six states and endorsed by The National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Energy literacy is an understanding of the nature and role of energy in the universe and in our lives. It also covers the ability to apply this understanding to answer questions and solve problems. Our national deficit in energy literacy may be one of the most fundamental roadblocks to progress on the issues of climate change and energy sustainability. Only 12% of Americans understand how energy is generated and less than half understand that cars and appliances contribute to climate change, according to the recent National Environmental Education Foundation study.1

About the Frances R. Dewing (FRD) Foundation

The FRD Foundation is a non-­‐profit, charitable organization that supports innovative ways of teaching young children. Frances R. Dewing created the FRD Foundation in 1963. Ms. Dewing received her BA from Wellesley College in 1900 and Ph.D. from Radcliffe College in 1906. She was interested in innovative ideas and philosophy and wished to promote new ways of thinking for children up to grade 6. She established the FRD Foundation to provide “seed money” for the intellectual stimulation of young children.

About the Hitchcock Center

For over 50 years, the Hitchcock Center has served the western Massachusetts region as one of the most influential sources of environment education, shaping the attitudes, beliefs and values of approximately 7,000 children and adults annually. Our programs develop a continuum of competencies beginning at a child’s earliest, most formative years and progressing through lifelong learning. They Include: 5,000 School children (PreK-­‐12) engage in interdisciplinary, inquiry-­‐based science & nature programs with a focus on the local environment through our preK-­‐12 School Programs 250 Teachers & student teachers receive mentoring in the best practices of environmental education through our Professional and Curriculum Development Programs 1,500 Children, youth & families participate in meaningful hands-­‐on, minds-­‐on environmental education experiences embedded in the outdoors through our Children, Youth and Family Programs 1,000 Adults take part in empowering programs that promote dialogue, debate and action on solutions for creating a more environmentally sustainable & healthy planet through our Adult Education Programs 50 Elementary, middle and high schools assisted throughout Hampshire, Hampden, and Franklin Counties 45 Urban and rural communities supported through our comprehensive environmental education programs and services.

1 Americans’ Low “Energy IQ:” A Risk to Our Energy Future: Why America Needs a Refresher Course on Energy, The Tenth Annual National Report Card: Energy Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behavior, The National Environmental Education and Training Foundation, August, 2002

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