New Survey Shows Nation’s Students Knowledge and Opinion Split on Various Energy Issues

As the price of gas continues to hover over the $4 mark in Chicagoland, a national survey shows America’s students are lukewarm to the idea of increasing domestic production for oil and gas.

CHICAGO -- As the price of gas continues to hover over the $4 mark in Chicagoland, a national survey shows America’s students are lukewarm to the idea of increasing domestic production for oil and gas.

Jerry Katz, President of the National Foundation for Energy Education and developer of The Great American Energy Debate is in Chicago this week to work with local students on increasing their knowledge on a wide variety of energy issues.

The Mechanical Contractors Association Chicago  (MCA Chicago) will sponsor a day-long event Thursday, April 26, featuring STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) for local students. The event also features student-led discussions and live demonstrations.

The results of this annual nationwide survey of students grade seven through 12 will be discussed at the event. “Students’ expectations for renewable energy are way beyond reality. For example, 8 percent of the nation’s energy comes from renewable. Our annual survey shows students think it’s 45 percent. They grossly overestimate the role renewable energies play,” says Katz.  “If students understood the science and economics behind renewable energy they might be less optimistic about the role it will play in the future.”

The annual survey showed most students strongly believe that technology will lead us to a new energy future.

  • Fifty-one percent support taxpayer dollars to grow the wind and solar energy industries; 22 percent opposed.
  • Students also felt that in the next 20 years clean coal technology would be developed and would be competitive with other generating sources.
  • The role of alternative fuels during the next 20 years was also overestimated by students as they felt that it would rise from less than one percent today to 51 percent.

Katz will lead students in discussion tomorrow at the Islamic Foundation High School in Villa Park. Students from Hinsdale Middle School in Hinsdale, Universal School in Bridgeview, Frost Junior High School in Schaumburg, Regina Dominican School in Wilmette, and Libertyville High School in Libertyville are scheduled to attend.

MCA Chicago has organized additional training on such topics as natural gas and Smart Grid: energy-saving technologies that allow the utility grid to communicate and provide feedback to buildings and homes.

“We’re pleased to make this high-caliber STEM program available to area schools. This training is on par with nationally-recognized math and science programs, such as the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy,” says MCA Chicago Senior Vice President Dan Bulley. MCA Chicago has sponsored programming with The National Foundation for Energy Education for the past 10 years.

The Great American Energy Debate curriculum is available to schools by visiting www.thegreatamericanenergydebate.org.    

Highlights from the National Student Survey

How energy-educated students consider themselves to be on a scale of 0-10, with 10 be VERY energy educated – average 5.5

Students’ daily energy conservation on a scale of 0-10, with 10 be VERY conscious of energy use – average 4.8

Climate change with a value of 10 indicating that the use of fossil fuels is the prime cause of climate change – average 6.1

Energy industry’s protection of the environment: with 10 being very good and 0 being the evil villains from Saturday morning cartoons. – average 4.8

Nuclear energy: 10 being very supportive – average 5.4

Alternative fuels: 51 percent by the year 2032
 

Development of oil and gas from offshore areas:  10 being very supportive – average 5.3

Development of oil from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: 10 being very supportive – average 4.3

Increasing production and consumption of natural gas, especially for electric power generation and transportation:  10 being very supportive – average 5.1

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