SUNY Oswego mounted a new teacher-training effort last summer to deliver lessons of energy stewardship to young schoolchildren.
At the first Energy and Sustainability Institute for Elementary Teachers, teachers of grades K to 6 learned and shared ideas for field trips and exercises, including assembling a solar-powered motor, explaining the water cycle from rain to human uses to wastewater, and showing the impacts of people along the shores of Lake Ontario.
“As a child, when we learn things, it stays with us for life,” said Alok Kumar, chair of Oswego’s physics department and co-organizer of the institute with Diann Jackson of Rice Creek Field Station. “For the young, it has to be experienced, with hands-on activities. If you unfold the mysteries of nature through experiment or experience, you retain the information much longer.”
The free five-day, elementary-level program spun off from the college’s annual Energy Institute for high school math, science and technology teachers, which is longer and has an option for graduate credit. There, each teacher builds an energy curriculum portfolio that includes handouts, lesson plans and learning activities.
A long-term goal of the institutes is to infuse the workforce with new talent, while helping the teachers and everyone they teach to become better consumers and citizens in a global economy driven by energy.
Photo: Fourth-grade teachers test electric motors they built at one of Oswego’s energy institutes.