Building Energy Literacy with STEAM Education | Alliance to Save Energy

Building Energy Literacy with STEAM Education

Let's Save Energy

Alliance to Save Energy's Blog

03/24/21 / Audrey Christopher

Building Energy Literacy with STEAM Education

EmPowered Schools

Kessner’s students combine technology, creativity, and communication to share energy efficiency tips with their families.

STEAM education may stand for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, but it means much more than just teaching the fundamentals of these subjects. The goal of STEAM education is to connect the subjects to students’ daily lives, helping them develop skills they will use throughout their academic and professional careers. As part of its EmPowered Schools program, the Alliance to Save Energy is exploring how STEAM education can help spread awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency, and – vice versa – how energy education can support STEAM learning.

The Alliance partners with Haskell STEAM Magnet Elementary School in Granada Hills, California, through the Los Angeles Unified Schools District (LAUSD) EmPowered program. Haskell uses STEAM education to support one of the under-resourced communities in LAUSD (the nation’s second largest school district), preparing students to enter middle and high school with career or higher education goals. Through STEAM activities, students strengthen their critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills, while fostering creativity and attention to detail, helping students succeed in higher education and the workforce.  

Creating a wholistic approach for students from traditionally underserved communities early sets them up for success in their education and careers, promoting the mentality of not if they graduate, but when. Haskell teacher Lee Kessner uses the EmPowered Schools program as a complementary teaching tool for her students to “take agency over their learning” and harness their “enthusiasm for the environment.”

Kessner's students in the EmPowered program integrate STEAM principles – including inquiry-based learning, data collection and analysis, and creative problem-solving – into real world situations, such as identifying individual energy-saving actions they can implement in their school and households to combat climate change on the individual and collective level. As one of Kessner’s students said, “The program makes me think that we need to change our ways and protect the environment. If we change our ways, we can stop droughts and blackouts from happening.” In communities faced with cultural and socio-economic inequities, schools provide a unique opportunity to directly engage households. EmPowered Schools materials are available in multiple languages, so all families are included in their students’ education and can support their energy literacy.

The EmPowered program’s hands-on approach to STEAM learning helps students personally relate to their learning and makes the information more accessible. Kessner noted that her students “enjoy the cross-curricular approach to learning about energy conservation and the activities show them that small steps make big differences. When my students realize that they can make a difference when they reduce their energy consumption, they become enthusiastic about wanting to do more.” EmPowered Schools puts STEAM principles into action: creating engaging activities, fostering data literacy, and preparing students to creatively solve shared problems and expand their personal potential.

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