Energy across the Curriculum

Energy is a fundamental concept across all the sciences, but it also happens to be a particularly difficult concept to explain. EnergyX is an approach that aims to support good practice in teaching energy in secondary school science. It is based on these principles:

  • Across the curriculum: The energy concept plays different roles in different parts of the science curriculum. It becomes more complex in moving from physics to chemistry to biology. The human body behaves very differently to a pendulum.
  • Scientific consistency: Any approach to teaching energy in schools needs simplification to make it intelligible to students. This cannot though be at the expense of scientific consistency. ‘Fudging it’ just leads to problems later.
  • Explanation not description: Energy is a powerful explanatory concept, and yet there are simple starting points for students. It can give them new insights into the world. Focusing on labelling things with ‘correct words’ detracts from real understanding.

Since the introduction of the latest National Curriculum for England, the teaching of energy is again a focus for debate. A ‘new approach’ is in the air. Questions prompted by the three principles above are: Is it too physics-centric? Is it good science? Are teaching and assessment focusing on understanding?

Note that this website has recently launched and is in the very early stages of development. The starting point will be ‘questions & answers’ – about teachings approaches, about the science, about implementation – currently people seem to have a lot of these! I’m compiling a list and any others will be welcomed!
Richard Boohan, December 2016
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