What I have discovered – Teaching about Energy


bKen Crawfordy:  Ken Crawford

As I mentioned in my last blog, I had the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of introducing a new teaching tool called the PowerWheel.  As a career social studies teacher and administrator, it has been a great experience to learn about a whole new area of academics…the teaching of energy and everything that goes along with it.

As we started to market the PowerWheel, one of the first things that we did was to bring together a group of teachers that represented all teaching levels…from the elementary to the post-secondary.  Many of these teachers were not science teachers…or had limited science backgrounds.  After giving them the chance to use the PowerWheel, we asked them, “How can we make the PowerWheel the most effective teaching tool it can be?”

PowerWheel pulleys Teaching about energy

Their answers were an eye-opener for us. It came down to variations on a single theme:  Before we can use the PowerWheel effectively, we need to understand energy ourselves…then we can teach our students. It turns out that one of the greatest fears or limitations that some of the teachers had was the lack of their own knowledge.  If given a chance to choose between a social studies lesson and a science lesson…they would choose the former…just because of comfort level.

From that moment on, we knew that we had an additional priority…help teach the teachers, and then effective learning about energy could take place. The PowerWheel is a great tool to help do this…easy to understand, and easy to use.

Here are three thoughts about teaching energy education in your classroom:

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The Old Dog and the New Tricks


Crawford jpegby:  Ken Crawford

An amazing thing happened to me about 18 months ago…I learned something new!  Now, I know that might not seem like a major thing…but for a person who has been a social studies teacher and administrator for 30 + years…I sometimes think that I have seen it all…nothing much new out there…but a single phone call changed all of that.

I received a call from a friend asking if I would be willing to meet with a gentleman who had invented a new teaching “tool”.  He wanted to know if it would help teachers to be more effective in their classrooms.  More effective teaching is something that I am always interested in…so I agreed to meet.

What I had a chance to see was a teaching tool called the PowerWheel. A micro hydro generator, it had the capability of using water from a sink to create enough electricity to light up a string of LED lights, charge up a cell phone or even power up a notepad.PowerWheel PowerWheel - 2

The PowerWheel

Roy Bentley, the inventor/designer, asked me if I thought it might be something that teachers could use to help them teach students about energy.  I remember telling him, “I’m a social studies teacher…we need to ask some science teachers”. I put together a focus group of teachers that represented grade levels from 3rd grade through college.  Some taught science all day long, others were expected to include science as part of their overall curriculum. We gathered them together in a room and just let them “play” with the PowerWheel.  We had a great time, received some great feedback and saw what fantastic teaching ideas can be generated by a group of enthusiastic educators! I think I learned more about science in one day than I had in the past 20 years….it was amazing!

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