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Watt's in the News? - Volume 1

Welcome to the start of the weekly BTU Crew™ "Watt's in the News?" newsletter for 2022-2023! Most newsletters won't be this long, but I would like to take this opportunity to share the vision for what we will be working to do with this resource to help support your efforts in the classroom.

When it comes to energy and technology what we find in textbooks is often old news, so in an effort to help you stay on the cutting edge we will use this BTU Crew™ feature to help provide some of the latest energy-related news and resources you can share with your students. Energy-related topics are in the news every day at local, regional, and/or national levels and using these current events and resources can helps students see the relevance to what they are learning.

Over my years of teaching Environmental Science classes I used the two sets of ecology and economics principles below as the "ten fundamentals" of my class, with discussions of current events and environmental issues all related back to one or more of these principles. It really didn't matter the specific topic as research and discussions related to environmental issues and economics all could be used to help students remember the basics and make connections.

This helped to create a "big picture" perspective for energy-related discussions. In the information age today it takes students just seconds to look up details, but what can they do with this information after they have it? Can they make the connections and think critically or is it a detail they have simply memorized for a test? With an understanding of these ten fundamentals, students will have a good foundation for more detailed discussion of various topics.

When you consider energy-related issues involve environmental concerns and science and economics and politics, etc, then provide opportunities for these findings to be communicated to others in both written and verbal is easy to see how energy can be used as a great topic for PBL!

One of the best "science" workshops I had the pleasure of attending was actually an economics workshop conducted by the Foundation for Teaching Economics. I was fortunate to attend this training not just once, but twice, and it really helped me develop more of a big picture/critical thinking focus in my classroom. Environmental issues are economics issues and you really can't discuss one without involving the other. The ten fundamentals I used to help build a foundation for Environmental Science are from these two resources:

The Closing Circle

In his 1971 bestselling book The Closing Circle, Barry Commoner suggested that the American economy should be restructured to conform to the unbending laws of ecology. One of Commoner's lasting legacies is his four laws of ecology, as written in The Closing Circle in 1971. 

The Four Laws of Ecology

  1. Everything is connected to everything else. 

  2. Everything must go somewhere. 

  3. Nature knows best. 

  4. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Handy Dandy Guide To Economics

  1. People choose.

  2. People’s choices involve costs.

  3. People respond to incentives in predictable ways.

  4. People create economic systems that influence individual choices and incentives.

  5. People gain when they trade voluntarily.

  6. People’s choices have consequences that lie in the future.

From the Kansas Council for Economic Education

Tate Honaker

Meet Dan WhislerTrane Educator in Residence

Tate Honaker

Meet Bill NelsonTrane Educator in Residence

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