Learning Opportunity and Audience
We need a simpler, clearer basis on which to build our knowledge of energy. In understanding how energy relates to our own lives, bodies, and efforts, we become more aware and informed of our future actions. In an accessible, engaging, and free-choice environment that reaches audiences of any background, a fun learning experience can trigger the interest that leads towards literacy and well-reasoned choices.
As science sometimes exists in a silo of its own, disconnected from the more comfortable and less technical issues that grace news headlines, it becomes more and more important that issues of science not be intimidating to a public audience. On a broad level, the topics of sustainability, renewable energy, environmental literacy, and climate change are consistently in the public eye, garnering attention at international and community levels. And in regions like California, where the state often leads the nation in our efforts to address issues in this realm, it becomes more and more important that the public audience is informed.
A 2004 study by Thomas Edward Curry at MIT shows that there is a significant gap in understanding how climate change, pollution, and energy use are even connected to one another. People are confused about what a technology does, how it helps, and how their lives may change (Curry, 1999). As a result, the lack of public understanding and support is often a significant barrier to the implementation of renewable energy policies (Swofford and Slattery, 2010, and Walker, 1995). The policies and bills that we vote on determine the future of the economy and the environment and direct the path the other states may follow. The field also plays a role in improving our general quality of life, the air we breathe, and the land that we leave for future generations. Citizens who are better informed about such issues, who understand the relevance of science to their own lives, will be able to better form knowledgeable opinions and vote on policies that address current issues and potential solutions.
There exist a great number of innovative displays, exhibits, products, and activities that help to explain and interpret the enormous amount of existing information. And as the topic becomes more and more prevalent in our lives and news, the opportunities continue to arise. The California Academy of Sciences recently offered a detailed exhibit on Climate Change; a number of cities and organizations are offering incentives, building infrastructure, and encouraging alternative forms of transportation — in some ways, the easiest way for an individual to make a choice and a change. Sustainable materials, methods of farming food, and even art displays with environmental messaging are growing in popularity.
For more resources and information on existing projects and solutions, please visit the Resources page!
* graphic from GOOD Magazine’s Bike Nation section