To find out what America’s students think about the energy future of America, the National Foundation for Energy Education (www.nfee.org) recently conducted the National Student Energy Survey and discovered that most of the 4,611 participating middle and high school students indicated strong support for renewable energy sources. But while the survey shows that many students are optimistic about America’s energy future, some of that optimism comes from a lack of awareness of the true facts, according to the survey’s organizer.
Students from 85 schools in 22 states participated in the survey from late-February through mid-March. The survey was developed and organized by the NFEE, and sponsored in the Chicagoland area by the Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA) of Chicago. “If we are going to meet the complex energy challenges of the future, we need to start the education process with today’s young people,” said Stephen Lamb, executive director of the MCA of Chicago. “The first step is to find out how much students currently know about energy.”
“It is good that students are optimistic about renewable energy - but when this optimism stems from a lack of knowledge, something must be done,” said survey organizer Jerry Katz, president of the NFEE, who is known as ‘Mr. Energy’ to students who have attended his many classroom presentations. “Many of the survey participants were not aware of the true status of renewable energy in America today, and we gave them the facts so they can help to correct America’s energy problems in the years to come.”
In late 2009, MCA of Chicago teamed up with Katz to offer energy-related Student Leadership Training Workshops on energy to Chicago-area high school students. Because member contractors work with the mechanical systems of today’s energy-efficient buildings, the association takes a special interest in America’s current and future energy needs.
According to Katz, the survey and the training workshops are all part of the Great American Energy Debate, a 10-year nationwide program created by the NFEE. “Our ultimate goal is to educate America’s future decision-makers about the many complex energy issues facing our country,” said Katz, who has 30 years of experience in the energy education field and has trained more than 18,000 teachers.
Findings from the SurveyWhen asked how energy-educated the students considered themselves to be, on a scale of 0 to a high score of 10, 64 percent of students selected values above the average level of 5, with an overall figure at 5.9. Here are other findings from the survey:
Oil and Gas:
“Most students believed that a little less than half of the nation’s energy is being supplied by renewable sources,” Katz said. “In fact, the actual figure is less than 10 percent. Students also predicted that in 20 years, 62 percent of America’s energy would come from renewable sources. Such a huge increase would be highly improbable. Now that these students know the truth of the matter, we hope they will want to have more input into America’s energy future.”
Lamb believes that this increased awareness of energy might encourage more students to enter the construction industry. “If these students want to make a difference in America’s energy usage,” he said, “they would find many inroads into that future by learning about sustainable technology and working on green buildings.”
Katz noted that because of the Student Leadership Training Workshops and the national survey, many students now realize that planning America’s energy future is more complex than they thought. “We encourage these students to share what they have learned with their friends and family,” he said. “The more people we can educate, the more reason we will all have to be optimistic about the future.”
For more information on the National Foundation for Energy Education and their efforts to educate America’s students about energy, visit www.TheGreatAmericanEnergyDebate.org. For more information on MCA of Chicago, visit www.mca.org.
Source: Nehlsen Communications