This guide is intended to help teachers integrate energy and climate protection topics into their teaching. The guide provides some background information and a set of suggestions on how to approach such topics in the classroom.
The topics may be introduced to the students through preparatory discussions that may help them understand how energy consumption affects climate change and how advanced materials contribute to a sustainable future.
The guide does not offer very concrete solutions on implementing such topics as lessons, since the school curricula vary from one country to another. It is the role of the coordinating teachers to adapt and filter the given information according to the age of their students.
The climate on our planet is changeable. During recent years scientists have proved that some human activities may increase climate change and influence the temperature on Earth. For example, burning fossil fuels and clearing forests have led to carbon dioxide being released and stored in the atmosphere at a much faster rate than would happen with natural processes only.
This results in variations in temperature, precipitation, wind, and all other aspects of the Earth's climate. The United Nations Convention on Climate Change states that the change of climate "is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”.
“Climate change” is a familiar subject in schools; the young generation cares about sustainable energy solutions and is very much aware of the energy challenges that lie ahead.
The “Energy is our Future” school programme covers three main thematic areas:
1. Energy efficiency: the impact of design and material selection on energy consumption
Energy consumption is influenced by many factors. One of them is product design, which is extremely important in determining how energy-efficient a product is. Students will be encouraged to think about the design choices that can be made to make products more energy-efficient e.g. which materials should be used to give a product certain desired characteristics (light weight, good insulation properties etc).
2. Climate protection: how our day-to-day behaviour can contribute to reducing greenhouse gases
Energy production is the major cause of greenhouse gas emissions. Students will be challenged to identify ways in which their behaviour can lead to more efficient use of energy. This will include themes such as transport, heating and cooling buildings, and packaging.
3. Resource efficiency: how each of us can do something to save natural resources.
Conserving natural resources by using them as efficiently as possible is a key element in fighting climate change. Students will be encouraged to think about how to save resources in everyday life from a lifecycle perspective (lifecycle means all the different stages of a product’s life), with ideas including recycling and using waste as an energy source.
Teaching about energy-related topics may have a major impact on students and a multiplier effect on their families and other members of the local community. In order to be best prepared to participate in our activities and competitions, students should have basic knowledge on energy efficiency, climate protection actions and resource efficiency; understand how they affect our lives and therefore how to convert their personal views into a contribution to the activity competitions.
Based on the information they gather students will learn to take a position on related subjects or exchange ideas and facts with their peers. They should be encouraged to remain open to various ideas, be active and responsive listeners.
Some of the following suggestions may be used to trigger students’ reactions and help them stay focused on the above-mentioned topics:
Introduce and familiarise the classes with the concept of energy and resource efficiency and climate protection, according to the age of the students.
Discuss basic actions to save energy in school and at home.
Discuss climate change in the local environment, effects and prevention: the greenhouse effect, environmentally-friendly transport, recycling.
Discuss the role of advanced materials (like plastics) to help save energy in buildings and transport.
Ask students to find out how energy-efficient their home, parents or friends’ cars, computer or other energy-using products are.
Encourage students to identify energy inefficiency examples in school.
Explain what makes energy-efficient behaviour.
Invite students to discuss renewable energy sources (their pros and cons: landscape/ environmental disruption).
Discuss mankind’s energy needs and the extent to which we should rely on traditional and/or renewable energy solutions.
Familiarise students with the concept of technological innovation responses to the world’s energy problems; economic, environmental and political implications in our daily lives.
Organising the above preparatory discussions may be a key activity to ensure a successful integration of the school programme into teaching and a positive impact in terms of pedagogical and social value that will be reflected in the knowledge, skills and behaviour of the students.