Using Energy as a Unifying Concept in the Marshall Middle School Science Curriculum
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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Energy is increasingly an important topic in the lives of people in the United States and around the world. In education, energy is most often taught as a single unit within physical science and is rarely mentioned in other disciplines. Research shows that environmental education works best when it is infused throughout the curriculum. Energy, as a unifying concept in science, and a major part of EE, should be infused throughout the curriculum as well. We wanted to know if infusing an entire Science curriculum with energy as a unifying concept would increase students' knowledge of energy. We developed a 25-question test and gave it to 6th and 7th as a pre- and post-test first with our traditional non-energy infused curriculum. During this time, we researched energy activities, lessons and methods to infuse them into our curriculum. The next year, we gave test again before and after different students had received the new energy-infused curriculum. We found that students receiving the energy-infused curriculum generally scored significantly higher (an average of 12% higher) on the post-test than those who received the traditional curriculum. Both 6th and 7th grade groups improved, though the 6th graders were slightly higher. We feel this supports the idea that using energy as a unifying concept throughout a Science curriculum is an effective way to have students learn and retain more knowledge about energy.