Learning about energy is not so different than learning about any other subject. However, there are some principles to teaching this subject matter to any age group that we could stand to be reminded of from time to time. And the headline here is to remember that this is an abstract concept for most, and to be successful and making it real, you need to take steps to bridge the gap between concept and concrete.
The above is a good example of an infographic that helps explain how energy works, where it exist, and how prevalent it is. This particular piece was clearly for a specific audience who needed to know specific things about global energy use and prevalence. Here are some additional energy infographics if you are looking for something different.
While the infographics on energy are helpful in creating a visual from an abstract concept, you will likely need to go farther to show how each process and reaction works–in visual form.
Everything today is practically a video or a podcast. A podcast won’t help you make energy any more visual than teaching in front of a class, but there are tons of videos where you can show power plants, energy gone wrong (DANGER!), and other version either in a lab or controlled environment. Here is just a quick search on types of energy in YouTube. Lean on Bill Nye to help you through, but watch a lot of these and see what you find.
If you are needed to teach in a large format or some kind of presentation where you can use slides or multimedia, I’ll suggest something I learned in the startup industry. Quick tangent.
Long ago, I worked in a few startups that were seeking various funding rounds. I was not privy to everything that happened, but basically guys with MBAs messing around in powerpoint trying to make their business look better than it was. At some point, someone suggested spending money on a designer to make the whole presentation look a lot better. And boy, was that a big improvement. The design didn’t always lead to closing a funding round, but seeing the difference pre and post designer the deck was so much easier to digest and made us look better, even though they both contained the same information. Presentation is key.
Circling back, for all types of projects where I know I need to communicate to a lot of people, I typically contract out to a design agency to help me communicate better, more visually, and bring some life to these abstract concepts. Shout out to Ashworth Creative, a boutique design agency Hudson Valley, who helped me shape up my slide deck, create infographics, and concept a few videos. Leave the professional work to the pros.
Remember Your Audience
Even if you decide to make your teachings more visual and concrete, you must also remember to speak in the visual langauge of your audience. You might use Bert and Ernie for elementary school students, but not for high schoolers. While that is a pretty blunt difference, often people fall into one pattern of visuals for all adults. 35 year olds are a generation away from 55 year olds and still yet another generation from 21 year olds. The point is not to aim for dull visuals that appeal to the masses. Instead, create multiple versions of the same presentation that speak to different age groups. Trust me here. Your audience will thank you for it and pay you with their attention.