291757 Studying Public Perceptions of Energy Sources, Uses, and Technology for the Development of Educational Materials

Monday, October 29, 2012
Hall B (Convention Center )
Nathan Hinkle, School of Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR and Dr. Skip Rochefort, Chemical Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

As conventional fuel resources are depleted, an understanding of energy units, sources, usage, environmental impacts, and conservation is essential for all people. This ongoing project seeks to identify shortcomings in general understanding of energy issues, and to remedy deficiencies through educational activities.

Survey research was conducted this summer, with subjects covering a range of ages and educational backgrounds. Results indicate a reasonable understanding of renewable energy, classification of common energy sources, and the greenhouse effect and its relationship to energy usage. Common deficiencies in understanding included the distinction between energy and power, magnitude of energy waste and inefficiency, and relative energy use by sector and application. Survey participants were typically familiar with the primary fossil fuel sources (coal, oil, and natural gas) and most were aware of solar photovoltaic and wind energy, but few were familiar with emerging technologies like tidal, geothermal, and biomass energy sources.

Educational modules are in the initial stages of being developed, and will include activities on energy efficiency and units, and emerging energy generation technologies. Activities will be submitted to be published through teachengineering.org at the conclusion of the project.

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