Cover.jpgA Conceptual Guide to K-12 Energy Education in Wisconsin

Purpose of the Conceptual Guide

  • Identify and present concepts that can help people understand energy and make decisions about energy issues.
  • Provide guidance for teachers to incorporate energy education into their curricula.
  • Direct the development of the KEEP Activity Guide.

Energy is certainly an important and complicated issue. The future of Wisconsin depends on people making wise energy policies and choices. That's why a comprehensive foundation in energy education is vital for Wisconsin. In the past, curriculum developers and teachers in Wisconsin included energy education in curricula and developed energy-related activities. But many Wisconsin educators believe more needs to be done if energy education is to be widely and consistently applied throughout the state.

The Conceptual Guide to K-12 Energy Education in Wisconsin helps meet that need, whether you use it to update an existing curriculum or to develop a whole new program for energy education. We have designed this guide so that educators can use it to provide Wisconsin students of every grade level the opportunity to receive a logically sequenced, comprehensive education about energy.

Conceptual Framework

This energy education conceptual framework is not a curriculum in itself; rather, it is a skeleton that provides the foundation for a curriculum. Just as the bones of a skeleton provide strength and structure to a body, the concepts that make up the framework provide the basis for a strong, organized, and comprehensive curriculum. We have endeavored to provide concepts that address a variety of different issues and viewpoints.

These concepts were derived from energy-related frameworks designed by other educational organizations--such as the National Energy Foundation and the North American Association for Environmental Education--and from physical and environmental science texts. We developed additional concepts to reflect issues specific to Wisconsin.

Throughout this process, the KEEP Steering Committee and two focus groups--consisting of energy resource management specialists, curriculum planners, and educators--reviewed and evaluated the framework. Their assistance helps ensure that the concepts in this framework form the basis of a logically sequenced, comprehensive energy education.

This framework is designed to evolve as energy education evolves. We encourage teachers and curriculum developers to assist with this evolution by modifying and adding to this framework as they build a curriculum that best fits the needs of their educational programs.

Framework Organization

The concepts within the framework are organized under four themes (described below). Each theme consists of concepts which are further organized into sub-themes. The themes are arranged so that they build upon each other. The information in the first theme lends understanding to concepts in the second theme, and so forth.


1. We Need Energy defines energy, describes how energy is transferred and converted from one form to another according to the laws of thermodynamics, and explains how energy flows through living and nonliving systems.

2. Developing Energy Resources addresses the sources of energy and how humans, through technology, use energy to meet societal wants and needs. It also shows how humans have come to treat energy as a resource.

3. Effects of Energy Resource Development covers how using energy resources affects human societies and the environment.

4. Managing Energy Resource Use identifies strategies we can use to help resolve many of the issues presented in the third theme. In addition, this theme discusses how today's energy-related decisions and actions influence the future availability of energy resources.

Conceptual Framework (2017) Framework only
Conceptual Framework (2003) Original document including acknowledgements, rationale, framework, scope and sequence, concept map