January 20, 2022
Dan Keefe | Brian Nearing
(518) 486-1868 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center Offers STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) Resource for High School Teachers
The Jones Beach Energy &
Nature Center announced the release of Energy & Us
interdisciplinary high school curriculum dedicated to exploring the
relationships between people, energy, and the environment. With the beach
itself as a classroom, Energy
encourages students to think critically about their role
in the energy systems and environments that surround them.
Located just 20 miles from New
York City, Jones Beach has been a beloved New York State Park for almost a
century. The opening of the Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center on the
Park's West End in September 2020 marked New York State's commitment to
transitioning to a cleaner energy future, as outlined in the Climate Leadership
and Community Protection Act of 2019. Exhibits, educational programs, and
events at the Center showcase landscapes of energy production and
consumption—sites where energy sources are extracted and power plants are
located; how scientists choose locations for wind turbines and the orientation
of solar panels; the energy embodied in building materials; biomimicry; and the
transfer of energy in a dynamic coastal environment. The exhibition theme, "the
power of nature and the nature of energy," invites visitors to conceptualize
energy and environment as one. For more information, visit www.jonesbeachenc.org/exhibits
Energy & Us extends this commitment to high school
students, striving to equip young people with sophisticated scientific,
historical, and political frameworks to understand their place the changing
global climate. Over five Units, the curriculum explores the intersection of
energy, environment, and society from the atomic to the global scale:
- Unit 1:
Water, air, and light at the tideline demonstrate the essential physics
and chemistry of energy at the molecular level, while the electrical
system of the Center itself is a template for understanding the physical
science behind human-built energy infrastructure.
- Unit 2:
Plants and animals of Jones Beach's West End are a window onto the cycling
of energy through the ecosystem.
- Unit 3:
Surveying the historical geography of Long Island reveals how energy has shaped
the environment throughout US history, particularly through the
development and expansion of cities, suburbs, and transportation networks.
- Unit 4:
Reflecting on the role of energy in contemporary American culture,
students are empowered to forge a new relationship to energy consumption.
- Unit 5:
Students understand the dynamics that connect energy consumption to global
climate change — as well as the possibilities of mitigation, adaptation,
and migration in response to climate change — and begin to imagine their
own place in a world shaped by altered weather patterns, rising sea
levels, and people on the move.
Each unit comprises a narrative
discussion and 2-3 interactive or creative activities, including role-plays and
debates, scavenger hunts, research reports, and creative writing exercises.
Activities involve work with historical documents, contemporary data sets,
journalistic accounts, scientific research abstracts, and interactive maps.
Students move fluidly and confidently between different knowledge-production
frameworks and learn to identify trustworthy sources of information.
Throughout, critical thinking and Social and Emotional Learning skills are
prioritized, allowing students to continually relate the materials they
encounter to their prior knowledge and their own lived experiences. All
activities can be carried out at the Center, during scheduled field
trips funded by the Connect-Kids-To-Parks program, or used in classrooms.
"We are excited to weave this
new curriculum into our existing International Baccalaureate, Advanced
Placement, Regents, and elective science courses," said Cristie Tursi, Science
Director of Long Beach Public Schools. "We look forward to a continued
partnership and making the Center's resources an integral part of Long Beach
Public Schools' growing program in Environmental Education and Sustainability."
Kimberly Williams, New York State Master Teacher in Science, celebrated the
curriculum for having "something for everyone who wants to help foster their
students' curiosity and drive. It offers a fantastic guide for educators who
need to learn with their students! The fun, creative, hands-on activities can
be easily tailored for a variety of learners whether at the Center, at home, or
in the classroom."
"By bringing together history,
environmental conservation, and energy, Energy
& Us will increase the capacity of the Center to achieve its
mission of educating and inspiring the public about environmental stewardship
and responsible energy consumption," said Jeanne Haffner, Director and Chief
Energy & Us was developed by Olivia Schwob, formerly a
member of Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center Curatorial Team, in
collaboration with Dr. Jeanne Haffner, Director and Chief Curator of the
Center, as well as volunteer teacher advisors from Long Beach Public Schools,
Roosevelt Public Schools, Freeport Public Schools, the New York State Master Teachers
Program, and the New York State Marine Education Association. The development
of the curriculum was supported by a generous grant from the Rauch Foundation,
which also sponsors ongoing exhibitions and programming at the Jones Beach
Energy & Nature Center. In a public talk at the Jones Beach Energy &
Nature Center on January 22, 2022, at 11:00AM, Olivia Schwob will discuss the
making of the curriculum. The Center will use Energy & Us to launch a Teacher's Academy
in summer and fall 2022, offering professional development programs for
educators across Long Island and New York State.