This detailed chemistry lesson from the U.S. Department of Energy focuses on transforming vegetable oil into biodiesel through a process of transesterification. The process described offers a good model for many chemical reaction processes that are used to produce a viable product.
In this activity, students construct a Global Warming Wheel Card, a hand-held tool that they can use to estimate their household's emissions of carbon dioxide and learn how they can reduce them. One side of the wheel illustrates how much carbon dioxide a household contributes to the atmosphere per year through activities such as driving a car, using energy in the home, and disposing of waste. The other side shows how changes in behavior can reduce personal emissions.
This activity includes an assessment, analysis, and action tool that can be used by classrooms to promote understanding of how the complex current issues of energy, pollution, supply and consumption are not just global but also local issues.
Students calculate the cost of the energy used to operate a common three-bulb light fixture. They then compare the costs and amount of CO2 produced for similar incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs. Students also do a short laboratory activity to visualize why two bulbs, which give off the same amount of light, use different amounts of electrical energy.
Student teams design and build solar water heating devices that mimic those used in residences to capture energy in the form of solar radiation and convert it to thermal energy. In this activity, students gain a better understanding of the three different types of heat transfer, each of which plays a role in the solar water heater design. Once the model devices are constructed, students perform efficiency calculations and compare designs.
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 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, students engage in a simulation of the international negotiation process in order to convey how the international community is responding to climate change. Participants learn firsthand about the interests of different countries and the range of policy responses to mitigate future climate change.