Students investigate passive solar building design with a focus on heating. Insulation, window placement, thermal mass, surface colors, and site orientation are addressed in the background materials and design preparation. Students test their projects for thermal gains and losses during a simulated day and night then compare designs with other teams for suggestions for improvements.
This lesson plan engages students in a real-life exploration of climate change as it is affected by greenhouse emissions from vehicles. The aim of this activity is for students to realize the impact of vehicle use in their family and to give students the opportunity to brainstorm viable alternatives to this use.
This is a team-based activity that teaches students about the scale of the greenhouse gas problem and the technologies that already exist which can dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Students select carbon-cutting strategies to construct a carbon mitigation profile, filling in the wedges of a climate stabilization triangle.
In this activity learners work in pairs or small groups to apply knowledge of energy-wise habits to evaluate energy use in their school and make recommendations for improved efficiency. Students create and use an energy audit tool to collect data and present recommendations to their class. Further communication at the school and district level is encouraged.
This activity engages students in a role play to negotiate an agreement between the United States and China about climate change policies. Students use given background material or can do their own additional research to present their assigned stakeholder's position in a simulated negotiation.
This multi-week project begins with a measurement of baseline consumptive behavior followed by three weeks of working to reduce the use of water, energy, high-impact foods, and other materials. The assignment uses an Excel spreadsheet that calculates direct energy and water use as well as indirect CO2 and water use associated with food consumption. After completing the project, students understand that they do indeed play a role in the big picture. They also learn that making small changes to their lifestyles is not difficult and they can easily reduce their personal impact on the environment.
This short series of lessons has multiple facets that may require several class periods to implement. Lessons explore the importance of engineering solutions to the management of climate change, by brainstorming ways to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in a form that does not promote global warming. Students can explore engineering careers and experience learning through the scientific process.
This video segment from What's Up in the Environment shares how an entire home can be constructed using green energy sources (solar and geothermal energy). Video is narrated by young boy whose father is the chief engineer on the project.