Teaching kids the facts about our energy evolution

Here at Energy Connections Canada we’re always on the lookout for projects that align with our goal of supporting pipeline innovation, best practices and education.

To that end, we hold regular Project Calls in which we invite individuals and organizations with great ideas to submit proposals.

It was during such a Project Call, in 2019, that a project was proposed to produce a video about energy for high school students. The aim was to produce a neutral, fact-based video that would support open discussion about the challenges of meeting our growing demand for energy while also addressing environmental concerns.

“A group of us were concerned that the energy discussions in schools were very one-sided; very anti-pipeline, very anti-oil and gas,” said project partner, Yvanna Ireland. “To a large degree that was just based on the materials teachers had available to them. So we wanted to create a video to get students thinking about the energy mix and to act as a starting point for their own research.”

With input from teachers, the project team learned what would work best for students. For instance, they learned that it would be best to produce a series of shorter videos, rather than one long video. They also learned that the material would need to be directly linked to the school curriculum.

The first video in the series, entitled ‘The Evolution of Energy and its Impact on the World’, was released in February and is directly linked to the grade nine science and grade ten social studies curriculums in Alberta, and in general other curriculums across Canada. It takes students on a journey from the origins of energy to the choices we face today, challenging them to think critically about:

  • How we can balance the need for energy to advance our quality of life, with our need to protect the environment
  • The kinds of future technology and innovations that could impact energy use and environmental protection
  • How that technology will shape the future of our energy ecosystem

The video was recently introduced at the Calgary City, Central Alberta, and Greater Edmonton Teachers’ Conventions and the response from teachers was very positive.

“Teachers were pleased to see that the video is very neutral. We’re not telling students what to think, we just provide the facts and allow them to come up with their own ideas and conclusions,” said Ireland. “The teachers have accompanying learning materials to go along with the video to help the students do their own research.”

In the process of developing the first video, Energy Ecosystem was created to provide an organizational identity to the project. A website was also created to house the video and associated learning materials.

Energy Ecosystem illustration

Energy Ecosystem lesson plans

What’s next?

Energy Ecosystem plans to produce a series of videos, encouraging students to think critically about topics such as energy and the environment and how energy impacts the economy. While videos will initially be aimed at high school and junior high students, the organization would like to eventually create versions aimed at elementary students.

Check out the Energy Ecosystem website here, where you can watch the video and download the teaching materials.

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