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 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 activity leads students through a sequence of learning steps that highlight the embedded energy that is necessary to produce various types of food. Students start by thinking through the components of a basic meal and are later asked to review the necessary energy to produce different types of protein.
This is the ninth and final lesson in a series of lessons about climate change. This lesson focuses on the various activities that humans can do to mitigate the effects of climate change. This includes information on current and predicted CO2 emission scenarios across the globe, alternative energy sources, and how people are currently responding to climate change. Importantly, this lesson is motivating in showing students that they can make a difference.
Students investigate how much greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide and methane) their family releases into the atmosphere each year and relate it to climate change. To address this, students use the Environmental Protection Agency Personal Emissions Calculator to estimate their family's greenhouse gas emissions and to think about how their family could reduce those emissions.
In this activity, students will determine the environmental effects of existing cars and a fleet consisting of their dream cars. They compute how many tons of heat-trapping gases are produced each year, how much it costs to fuel the cars, and related information. Then, students research and prepare a report about greener transportation choices.
This activity engages students in learning about ways to become energy efficient consumers. Students examine how different countries and regions around the world use energy over time, as reflected in night light levels. They then track their own energy use, identify ways to reduce their individual energy consumption, and explore how community choices impact the carbon footprint.