On October 31st, a day especially favored by kids in the US, NARA and Facing the Future, a NARA member organization, presented to the global teaching community a lesson plan entitled “Fueling Our Future: Exploring Sustainable Energy Use”.

This set of lessons is timely because it accommodates the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Literacy Principles, which emphasize a need for energy literacy. In addition, the NARA Education Team is tasked with enhancing student bioenergy literacy and these lessons support our efforts to create a future workforce for an emerging forest residuals to biojet fuel and co-products industry.

The curriculum covers two weeks of instructional material relating sustainable approaches to energy. The first week features lessons that teach students fundamental energy concepts. The second week provides an in-depth study of transportation fuels including renewable fuels. Nested within these lessons are reading assignments, collaborative tasks, and projects that demonstrate and reinforce student knowledge. This broad approach to learning about energy and biofuels allows lessons to be taught in a single classroom or become a collaborative between science, social studies and language arts classes. The curriculum unit is available in two versions, one for middle school (grade 6-8) and one for high school (grade 9-12) students.

NARA’s contribution

NARA played many significant roles in developing this new education product. The biofuels sections of this product was inspired and funded through our USDA NIFA project.  These lesson plans have been pilot tested at the McCall Outdoor Science School, an institution leading NARA’s K12 curriculum development. “The NARA project was such a great example of real science and collaboration, that we wanted to model that in these lessons,” says Danica Hendrickson, curriculum developer for Facing the Future. NARA central effort provided the model for the final three lessons exploring a biofuel supply chain and stakeholder input.

This curriculum unit complements NARA’s other education efforts directed to K-12 students such as classroom instruction for teachers and students at the McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS), an annual biofuel project competition through Imagine Tomorrow and the development of a web-based matrix to pair biofuel related teaching resources to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Literacy Principles.

These curriculum units are currently available to preview through the Facing the Future website (www.facingthefuture.org) where it can also be purchased for $14.99.