Click the photos below to learn how these teachers are using NGRID’s educational resources in their classrooms. If you would like to share your perspective on the NGRID program, we welcome your feedback!
Amy Lauer teaches 7th grade at Fredonia Middle School in Fredonia, New York. She is a member of the National Science Teachers Association, National Middle School Teachers Association, and the National Board of Certified Teachers. She has taught for 7 years.
I chose to use NGRID’s Energy and your environment activity book with my 7th grade students because it provides a basic introduction to the various types of energy, where energy comes from, and the history of energy. This is important because of the way the science curriculum is arranged in New York State. In 7th grade Life Science curriculum students need to know how energy use affects the environment, and how energy influences our choices and impacts our world. However, students do not actually explore the types of energy, energy transformations, or conservation until the 8th grade year in physical science. This book touched on the 8th grade topics simply and briefly, allowing me to continue with the more appropriate 7th grade topics.
We used the book several ways over the course of three days. Students worked in groups, with their parents and with me to complete different portions. I used the first few pages as an opportunity to introduce unfamiliar vocabulary about kinetic and potential energy. Students then worked together to discuss and brainstorm ideas about making our community more energy efficient using the activity on the back cover of the book. I also very much tried to have students work with their parents completing several activities from the book, such as those involving energy cost and home energy use.
The activities that allowed students to voice their opinion on the Is It Fair piece, about the discrepancies in energy usage around the globe, sparked great discussion, as did the discussion about Creating Our Energy Future (in which students were asked to brainstorm on how they could make their city, town, or neighborhood more energy efficient in areas such as transportation, waste disposal, business, agriculture, schools, etc.) on the back cover. Students want to be heard and often have unique ideas. Additionally, my students love to share their ideas through illustration.
This booklet helped my students begin to understand that there are a variety of ideas about conserving energy and creating solutions for decreasing our dependence on certain energy sources. My students became more aware of the cost of energy, especially after working with their parents. Using the How Many Hours Do We Work For Our Energy Bill? exercise with parents at home provided the opportunity for parents to share the actual cost of energy bills with their children. One parent even associated the cost of their energy bills with the purchase of toys (our bill is the equivalent of two Xbox games…). This made it possible for students to relate and help take ownership of their energy usage.
Many students shared their decision to change behaviors at home or challenged their family members to change some of their behaviors (such as turning off lights, running a fully loaded dishwasher, using alternative fuels). We also live in an area where using wind power is greatly debated, and my students wanted more information about the impact this would have on their local community.
I appreciated being able to use the website for the solutions to the questions in the book. I also appreciated the possible extension activities, though I did not use them. They did prompt me to think about the next time I use the materials. This was a valuable resource because it was kid friendly, interesting to look at, and not the “typical” textbook material. It was also the appropriate reading level.