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Editor's Note

Energy Literacy

Energy is a cross-disciplinary subject that extends far beyond the natural sciences into the social sciences. Indeed, its importance led to the creation of the Energy Literate Framework, whose development was spurred by the Department of Energy and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in conjunction with many agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals.

Knowing where our energy comes from, how it is used, and its impact on the environment are questions that are often poorly understood, yet are pivotal to our daily lives. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE, n.d.) defines energy literacy as “an understanding of the nature and role of energy in the world and daily lives accompanied by the ability to apply this understanding to answer questions and solve problems.” This understanding is crucial when consumers are making decisions that may range from purchasing energy-saving appliances to understanding energy policies both at home and abroad.

Our attitudes and behaviors toward energy can be linked back to our understanding of the topic. Such knowledge influences our decisions as we consider the impact our lives have on energy use and our role as world citizens (Martins, Madaleno, and Dias 2020). According to the EERE, the energy-literate person

  • can trace energy flows and think in terms of energy systems;
  • knows how much energy they use, for what purpose, and where the energy comes from;
  • can assess the credibility of information about energy;
  • can communicate about energy and energy use in meaningful ways; and
  • is able to make informed energy use decisions based on an understanding of impacts and consequences.

Rising energy prices, along with international energy policies that impact our lives, make it imperative that our students are energy literate. I encourage you to peruse the EERE website for more information about energy literacy and to download Energy Literacy: Essential Principles for Energy Education to increase your knowledge while garnering ideas for increasing your students’ energy literacy.

Patty McGinnis
Editor, Science Scope



Martins, A., M. Madaleno, and M.F. Dias, 2020, February. Energy literacy: What is out there to know? Energy Reports 6 (Suppl. 1): 454–459. Available at

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. (n.d.). Energy literacy: Essential principles for energy education. Available at

Patty McGinnis is an instructional coach and veteran middle school teacher. You can contact her at or on Twitter: @patty_mcginnis.

Earth & Space Science Interdisciplinary Literacy Middle School

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