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Low carbon education promoted in studies of subjects.

Shuichi Teraki

Jun.30,2011 The Education Newspaper

Courses of studies for elementary and middle schools were fully implemented in April 2011 and be used for 10 years. A report from the Central Education Council (2008) prior to revision promoted enhancement of education in science and math, and stated that "we are asked on what science and technology can do for sustainable development of mankind, and to resolve problems on the global scale, such as environmental and energy issues, in this generation."

A goal in fields 1 and 2 of science in middle school is to discuss conservation of the environment and utilization of science and technology, and to recognize the importance of achieving a sustainable society.

Similarly, the viewpoint of education to achieve a low carbon society can be seen in the following topics in science and social studies:

  • Relation between natural environment and humans, use of electricity and energy (generation, transmission, and storage of electricity) (topics in the course of study for elementary school)
  • Energy resources (including nuclear power), development of science and technology, conservation of the natural environment and utilization of technology (topics in the course of study for middle school)
  • Securing drinking water, electricity, and gas that is necessary for people in the community, reduction and disposal of waste (trash and sewerage), prevention of disaster and accidents in the community, development of industry in Japan (topics in the course of study of social studies for elementary school)
  • Discussion of natural energy and industry focused on problems and conservation of the environment (topics in the course of study of social studies for middle school)

Education for sustainable development (ESD), which is a reason for the revision, aims to link community, domestic and international issues that were handled separately, including traditional cultural and natural heritage and environmental problems, to foster the values and activity necessary to build a sustainable future and for a realistic turnaround of society.

Low carbon education in elementary school

The following is a unit that I structured as a low carbon education unit in elementary school. The goals were to "reflect life around us, and ask the meaning and necessity of, increase interest of, and participate in activities for saving energy and resources, and learn the basic knowledge and activity to achieve a low carbon society" and "learn the scientific literacy necessary for development of renewable energy and saving resources to adapt to global climate change".

I have designed a hands-on study at a water reclamation center for the 6th grade science unit "utilization of electricity".
 First, students see the solar power generation system in the center. They recognize that the total annual power generation of the center can provide electricity for about 160 standard households, and become interested in use in actual life (practical use). The students are taught that about 40%of power used in the water treatment process is used in aeration of microorganisms in the reaction tank, and that there are sewage treatment facilities under the photovoltaic panels.
 Therefore, students can learn that electricity can be created and stored, or "conversion and storage of electricity". Energy created by photovoltaic cells can also be used in sewage treatment; hence they can increase understanding of "effective use of energy resources". As a result, students feel that daily life and use of electricity are closely linked, and may be interested in power generation using renewable energy, such as solar, biomass, or small-scale hydropower generation, in addition to thermal power generation using conventional fossil fuel.