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Science Resources for the Next Generation of Leaders and Innovators

Between the various issues of energy costs and sustainability, topics such as energy production and availability are top of mind to many people. From the energy crisis in drought-stricken areas of the western U.S. that rely on hydroelectric power to the price of oil surging globally, energy is something that everyone should understand, and children are no exception. In fact, they’re the ones who will need to understand it best—and soon.

We offer two great resources to help kids learn about energy. For late elementary schoolers and early middle schoolers, Dr. Dave’s Science Teaching Manual on Electricity is a great place to start. This book is ideal for teachers and homeschool co-op instructors (and for parents who don’t mind making simple modifications to the group activities) who want to give students a fascinating, hands-on way to learn about the properties of electricity and the fundamentals of circuits, insulators and conductors, batteries, resistance, magnetism, static electricity, and lightning. The book is loaded with teacher demonstrations and interesting experiments using basic supplies that can be found easily in the home or inexpensively online.

For students in middle school—and those who want to focus on a hot-button issue affecting communities today—we offer the Problem-Based Learning unit It’s Electrifying!: An Exploration in Water-Based Alternative Energy, which puts kids into the role of engineers whose job it is to select new, innovative options for energy production for the city of Virginia Beach. As a group, they’ll investigate which source of energy would be most beneficial with the least environmental impact: wave energy, tidal energy, or offshore wind farms. Because PBL is inherently collaborative, the students must work together to investigate the issues, as well as the concerns of the individuals who would be affected, both positively and negatively, by the various options. This level of cooperation to reach an outcome that takes into account everyone’s perspective is an incredibly important skill to teach in our current era of division and polarization.

These two resources will give children an advantage for the future, teaching them facts and skills they need to know as they grow up to be the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.

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