KEEP is the product of an innovative public-private partnership between educators and energy professionals. For more than twenty-five years, the Wisconsin K–12 Energy Education Program (KEEP) has been working with teachers, administrators, and energy resource managers to increase and improve energy education in Wisconsin schools. The KEEP curriculum and other services and support materials provide Wisconsin students of every grade level the opportunity to receive a logically sequenced, comprehensive education about energy.
The dream of KEEP began in 1993 when the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education (WCEE) proposed that a comprehensive guide to K–12 energy education in Wisconsin be developed. In 1995, the Energy Center of Wisconsin (ECW), a nonprofit energy efficiency research organization based in Madison, agreed to fund the project. The Wisconsin Environmental Education Board and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point also provided support.
In 2000, the ECW (now Seventhwave) worked with KEEP staff to ensure long-term financial support through Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s Public Benefits Program, a public-private partnership offering energy information and services to energy utility customers throughout Wisconsin. The partnership with Focus on Energy ended in May 2012. Recognizing KEEP’s value, Wisconsin’s six major utilities have continued their funding for KEEP on an annual basis.
The need for energy education is clear when we understand that some households spend more than 20 percent of their budget on heating their homes and fueling cars. Energy issues in the news emphasize the importance of energy education. Our society needs individuals with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will allow them to use energy resources wisely. Energy literacy is critical to Wisconsin’s economic and environmental future.
Unfortunately, there is evidence that students lack energy literacy. A 1999 KEEP Baseline Study found that:
Energy education must be an integral part of the school curriculum to produce energy-literate citizens. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction recognizes the need for energy education. Their Wisconsin Standards for Science include many objectives related to energy concepts. To address these standards and improve students’ energy literacy, teachers need more education and resources to be able to incorporate energy into their lessons. With KEEP, Wisconsin now has the appropriate frameworks and support systems for a sequential and comprehensive approach to energy education in schools.
Energy education can help students of today handle many of the energy resource issues and opportunities our nation faces. We have challenging energy decisions ahead of us, and the solutions will include a mix of energy efficiency measures, new technologies, and renewable resources. These decisions will need to be made by educated individuals who have a solid understanding of energy basics, including the pros and cons of both renewable and nonrenewable resources.
What do people know and think about energy? Some will describe how they use energy in their lives and at their workplaces. Many will mention the cost, while others will express concern about environmental impacts. While acknowledging these issues, nearly all people will agree that energy is necessary for maintaining their health, their well-being, their lifestyles, and their economy. Many will even say that they often take energy for granted.
Energy is more than an individual economic, environmental, or sociopolitical issue, and it’s more than a passing concern. It is the agent of change for all processes on Earth and throughout the universe. Every interaction among living and nonliving things is accompanied by the transfer and conversion of energy. Energy is the underlying currency that is necessary for everything humans do with each other, whether in the workplace or in their personal lives and with the natural environment that supports them. Understanding energy in this way enables people to see how issues are interconnected and how a solution to one issue may even lead to the solution of another. For instance, the person who buys a fuel-efficient car saves money on gasoline, reduces air emissions, and decreases our nation’s reliance on imported oil.
Many people believe more needs to be done if energy education is to be widely and consistently instituted throughout Wisconsin in a manner that effectively promotes lifelong learning and links students to the world around them. This program utilizes and encourages school-to-career skills and the use of a rich set of community resources, including professionals representing Wisconsin’s investor-owned, municipal, and cooperative utilities, as well as businesses, environmental organizations, and institutions of higher education. KEEP, through its conceptual framework, curriculum, and hands-on resources, provides a path for students in Wisconsin schools to receive a logically sequenced, comprehensive energy education.
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Hamzé, S. (2022) “Student Science Takes Flight: Chippewa Falls high schoolers use a drone-mounted thermal camera to identify heat loss from a school building”, School News, October 2022 pp 10-13
Vedvig, A. (2022) “Student-Centered Energy Solutions” Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters, May 2022.
Slembarski, B. (2022) “A Forest of Opportunity.” School News, January 2022 p.18-23.
Hamzé, S., & Nadeau, E.G. (2021) “Coming Clean, Six steps to your district’s clean energy transition.” School News, September 2021 p.20-25.
Baker, A., Liddicoat, K., & Schuller, S. (2016) “Energy Education for a Sustainable Future.” Excerpted from Cornell University. Case Studies. Environmental Education: A transdisciplinary approach to addressing wicked problems. A Global Online Course. February, 2016.
Baker, A. & Martinson, D. (2015) “Wisconsin Schools Improve Energy Efficiency Gains through Education.” Taking Care of Business, Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials. June 2015 p24-25.
Lane, J.F., Baker, A., Franzen, B., Kerlin, S., & Schuller, S. (2015) “Designing Resilient Energy Education Programs for a Sustainable Future.” The Journal of Sustainability Education. Vol. 8.
Lane, J.F., Floress, K., & Rickert, M. (2014) “Development of school energy policy and energy education plans: A comparative case study in three Wisconsin school communities.” Energy Policy, Vol. 65 p. 323-331.
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Rickert, M. L. (2011). School Energy Policy and Education Plans: A Case Study of Plan Development in Three Wisconsin School Communities. Master’s Thesis. University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
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Rickert, M. (2009). “Go Green to Save Green.” Wisconsin Schools News, January 2009 p24-26.
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Ziolkowski, C. B. (2007). The Development and Evaluation of a Biomass Activity Guide for the Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program. Master’s Thesis. University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
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Performed by the Energy Center of Wisconsin in 2014, this report describes pilot efforts to test the infusion of more near-term energy savings efforts alongside KEEP’s energy education mission; presents the results of those efforts and makes suggestions for future activities. In order to acknowledge KEEP’s long-term energy education effects, the report also contains a brief discussion of KEEP’s role in enhancing Wisconsin students’ energy literacy.
Click here to download this report.
KEEP partnered with Wisconsin Public Service, Focus on Energy, and the Citizens Utility Board to offer the iCanConserve School to Home program for three communities in the Wisconsin Public Service territory from 2010-2013. Energy literacy is crucial to Wisconsin’s economic and environmental future. The School to Home program offered teachers in Allouez, Brillion, and Plover a fun, hands-on way to educate their students about energy production, use and conservation. This memo documents successes and provides a summary of recommendations for improvements. Overall, teachers highly valued the School to Home program, which led to increased participation in other iCC offers, and KEEP’s relationship building with schools overall was crucial to program adoption and success.
Download the full memo.
Performed by the Energy Center of Wisconsin in 1999, this report summarizes the results of the first phase of a KEEP evaluation: the collection of baseline data on the status of energy education in Wisconsin’s public schools before the KEEP program was implemented. The findings of the baseline study measure (1) how teachers are currently teaching energy in Wisconsin schools, and (2) students’ and parents’ knowledge of the four KEEP energy themes and their attitudes/practices regarding energy usage.
Scheduled for the 2001-2002 fiscal year was the second phase of the evaluation: the collection of baseline data on the current status of energy education in Wisconsin’s public schools as a result of the KEEP program implementation.
Click here for the PDF of the Baseline Study.
View the Infographic here.
KEEP’s 2021 annual report is now available.
Download the PDF
KEEP’s 20 Year Report and Timeline are now available.
View the Report
View the Timeline
KEEP’s 2014 annual report is now available.
Read the report online OR
Download the PDF
KEEP’s 2013 annual report is now available.
Read the report online OR
Download the PDF
KEEP celebrated 15 years of partnerships and successes in 2011!
Download the 15-Year Report
Small Version OR
To commemorate the ten year anniversary, KEEP compiled this 10-Year Report.
10 Years of Empowering Energy Education in Wisconsin
Statements of support for Ten Year Anniversary
KEEP is extremely honored and thanks the following organizations for recognizing KEEP for contributions to education in Wisconsin.
KEEP maintains active membership in the following professional organizations where we frequently present at annual conferences and collaborate throughout the year:
Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA)
Wisconsin Association of Environmental Education (WAEE)
Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB)
Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials (WASBO)
Wisconsin Energy Workforce Consortium (WEWC)
Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers (WSST)
Wisconsin Technology Education Association (WTEA)