This activity introduces students to the process of converting sunlight into electricity through the use of photovoltaics (solar cells). Students complete a reading passage with questions and an inquiry lab using small photovoltaic cells.
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 a hands-on activity students design, build, and test. They compare the energy-generating capacities of vertical- and horizontal- axis wind turbine prototypes they have built as potential sources for power in a home.
In this learning activity, students use a web-based carbon calculator to determine their carbon footprint on the basis of their personal and household habits and choices. Students identify which personal activities and household choices produce the most CO2 emissions, compare their carbon footprint to the U.S. and global averages, and identify lifestyle changes they can make to reduce their footprint.
In this activity learners work in pairs or small groups 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 illustrates the carbon cycle using an age-appropriate hook, and it includes thorough discussion and hands-on experimentation. Students learn about the geological (ancient) carbon cycle; they investigate the role of dinosaurs in the carbon cycle, and the eventual storage of carbon in the form of chalk. Students discover how the carbon cycle has been occurring for millions of years and is necessary for life on Earth. Finally, they may extend their knowledge to the concept of global warming and how engineers are working to understand the carbon cycle and reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions.
Students go through the design process and the scientific process to test the effect of blade design on power output. There is an optional extension to use the data to create an optimal set of wind turbine blades.
In this activity, students use Google Earth to investigate a variety of renewable energy sources and select sites within the United States that would be appropriate for projects based on those sources.