Innovating Smart Workforces for Energy Startups of the Future

By CIOReview | Thursday, August 1, 2019

Re-designing the way students learn energy and its concepts to enhance the habit of deeper understanding of concepts. The elaboration of the building stages is necessary for future energy innovators and entrepreneurs.

FREMONT, CA: Energy is the ability to carry out tasks while existing in various forms such as Chemical, Mechanical, and Thermal. The concept of energy plays a vital role in all branches of science due to its omnipresent character. The efforts to build a science-literate energy workforce in startups should begin from students trying to learn the skill of understanding energy.

Understanding energy as a scientific phenomenon is the foundation necessary to build on the demands required to work towards innovations ranging from self-driving cars to smart electric grids and zero-emission fuels.

The problem lies in the foundation as many children hold misconceptions related to energy. Children often believe energy is “running out” and when used it vanishes. A similar mistaken concept is that the object at rest does not possess any energy. Research on the same concept among students from the higher levels of education shows identical results. Those who do not possess a sound foundation, find more in-depth understanding of energy concepts difficult and have trouble applying it in day-to-day situations. More than 50 percent of high-schoolers have a misplaced knowledge of energy applications.

Some among the several reasons for students not having a deep conceptual understanding of energy is partly because of the science curriculum. Education systems tend to focus on established knowledge, and teachers are emphasizing more on confirming if the concepts are understood.

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The attention on standardized testing has majorly emphasized the scientific facts rather than the process. Teachers are pressurized to prepare students for a fact-based evaluation, and it is dependent more on the teacher-directed instruction. As opposed to it, research encourages the provision of time for students to acclimatize and experiment around the scientific processes leading to the understanding of both the scientific facts and the experience.

The emphasis on the facts will not only lead the students towards stunted information, but it will also reduce the understanding capacity of any scientific phenomena. Example being the concept of Newton’s laws of motion, students may know the laws but do not understand the underlying workings of the law.

When it comes to dealing with today’s energy demands and the necessary skills of the workforce available, several questions have been raised frequently. Critical thinking is the answer to these questions. Students who are incapable of understanding energy as a scientific concept at early stages are also incapable of leading the technical and policy transformations required to power an emerging world.

As the industry already grappling with demands to produce and manage more energy for an energy-hungry world and innovative ways to decrease the harmful side effects of urbanization, policymakers and entrepreneurs are allowing for the trade-offs of nuclear energy. The nuclear trade-off is not only burdened with high expenses, and safety concerns but also lacks permanent storage solutions for spent nuclear rods and other potential ways to influence modern life.

Considering the rate at which innovation is growing, it has been recognized that the scope for deeper understanding has also increased.  This scope of knowing scientific concepts exists even among non-industry people. To make smart choices about the cars to own, and the appliances to purchase demands a scientific acumen. Even for decisions like selecting the providers of electricity to power homes in regions with de-regulated energy markets. The need for a scientifically literate workforce has never been greater. The gap has been identified and providing students an inquiry-based experience that will nurture critical understanding is the solution that will help the most. The type of active learning not only engages students in questioning, developing, and implementing explorations but also examining data and generating conclusions using critical thinking. Scientific inquiry and evaluation promote prospective for students to think and act like scientists, to interlink evidence with theories, formulate scientific arguments, and support scientific conclusions.

To foster future energy innovators and extend critical thinking capacities in classrooms, students can engage in Claims, Evidence, Reasoning, and Rebuttal (CERR). CERR allows students to make claim statements that explain a scientific problem. Ample experimental data to support the explanations along with evidence are showcased as the reasoning for claims established. The logic is interlinked in the process as the justification that connects the evidence with the claim. It exhibits why the data is appropriately supporting the claim by the use of scientific ideas and principles.

Additionally, students can incorporate rebuttal or denial, as well. Rebuttal demands critical thinking to analyze evidence from various perspectives and frames-of-mind to formulate the optimal claim that aligns with the evidence and reasoning.

Scientific workforce and the energy innovators of tomorrow are the students of today. A sophisticated means of knowledge grasping abilities have to be cultivated for the students to acclimatize with the concept of energy and the energy industry. Students need authentic scientific experiences that foster critical thinking skills and create, analyze, scrutinize issues to propose solutions for the energy needs of the world.