Learnscapes for renewable energy education: An exploration of elementary student understanding of solar energy systems
Laura Brianna Cole 1 * , Sepideh Fallahhosseini 2 , Laura Zangori 3 , R. Tanner Oertli 3
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1 Department of Design & Merchandising, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA2 Department of Architectural Studies, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA3 Department of Learning, Teaching, & Curriculum, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA* Corresponding Author


Integrating the built environment of the school is one avenue to deliver place-based energy education connecting abstract ideas with the physical environment. This study examined how and if an outdoor classroom (learnscape) with solar panels together with a six-week renewable energy unit supported students in developing conceptual knowledge of energy systems. Fourth grade classrooms from two schools, one with a learnscape and one without, within the same district enacted the unit. Student learning gains (n=97) were measured through model-based reasoning at four time points before, during, and after the unit. Students (n=12) were interviewed about their models. Students in both schools identified the main system components and sequences. However, learnscape students exhibited a more nuanced understanding of solar energy systems and explicitly cited the learnscape as a “teaching tool” for energy education. Findings suggest that the presence of sustainability features on the school campus can enhance student learning outcomes.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

INTERDISCIP J ENV SCI ED, Volume 19, Issue 1, 2023, Article No: e2305


Publication date: 06 Mar 2023

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