Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Earth Day (22 April 2019) is a global event mobilizing millions of people around the world into political and civic participation. Organizations and individuals in more than 190 countries around the world march, sign petitions, meet with elected officials, plant trees, and clean up their towns and roads. Corporations and public sector agencies time their pledges and sustainability measures to this auspicious day.

Look around for opportunities to engage students, parents, and other community leaders on the issues, and check the Earth Day Network for pledges and actions you can implement locally as part of a global initiative. In the next week, set realistic goals for your class, your sports team, or your school and see how you can make a difference.

Discovery Education and Itron, Inc. have teamed up to launch the 2019 Week of Resourcefulness. They will launch a brand new STEM investigation every day of the week. The investigations will be designed for teacher-directed, activity based learning, and they will explore the unexpected connections between energy and water. They will release a companion guide to continue the learning at home.

Conservation Station: Creating a More Resourceful World also contains a virtual field trip focusing on smart cities with a fully developed educator guide and links to additional resources. All content is created in partnership between Discovery Education and Itron with the goal of promoting energy-water literacy and conservation efforts through the innovative use of technology.

Ever wonder what happens to those materials when they go into the blue bin? On today’s Global Recycling Day, take your students the step farther and explore what comes next. Keep America Beautiful and the Ad Council created a succinct online reference and game that explains the rest of the recycling lifecycle.

Build your own municipal sorting facility (MSF) by placing different sorting machines along a conveyor in the Super Sorter Game. Follow steel cans, cardboard boxes, cartons, and glass bottles on their way back into your life in the Recycling Journey. With each experience, ask your class if the outcome is expected or if recycling still has some surprises.

The Global Recycling Foundation created Global Recycling Day in 2018 in an effort to get more individuals engaged with the concept of recyclables being a resource rather than waste. Falling on 18 March every year, Global Recycling Day is an opportunity for individuals across your school and community to become laser focused on what they are doing to recycle.

Look around for opportunities to engage students, parents, and other community leaders on the issues, and check the website (linked above) maintained by the Bureau of International Recycling for resources and educational materials for your stakeholders. In the next week, set realistic goals for your class, your sports team, or your school and see how you can make a difference.

Conservation isn’t always about using less. Especially when looking at materials, conservation can take the form of using something for another purpose in order to reduce the overall burden of waste entering landfills. Consider ways to reuse material waste, such as projects celebrating creative expression.

One of the Watt Watchers activities developed as part of the relaunch outlines different ways to reuse common waste materials to tell creative stories or to illustrate scenes from history or literature. Aligned for students from kindergarten through middle school, this interdisciplinary activity looking at Junk Art is sure to provide stimulating context for reusing old materials in new ways.

If you are using the original version of the Watt Watchers materials or the new version currently being released, then you may be interested in becoming a Watt Watchers ambassador. This informal group of educators, energy managers, and other stakeholders meets remotely via teleconference about once per month to discuss the progress of the project, to swap lessons learned and success stories, and to provide valuable suggestions from users to inform the development of the program moving forward.

Participation in the ambassadors program is one way to make your mark on this exciting revitalization of a popular program. Reach out via email to contact@watt-watchers.com in order to join our distribution list. You’ll receive regular updates and meeting invitations that you can join as your schedule permits. We look forward to hearing from you.

Part of the activity Energy Resources: Primary vs. Secondary originated with Chapter 3 of Energy 101: Energy Technology and Policy, which introduces the difference between primary and secondary sources of energy. Access to Energy 101 for public school students and teachers in Texas is provided by the generous support of the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

Energy 101 is a comprehensive reference text covering the resources, technology, and policies of the energy sector today. It was developed from a massive open online course developed at the University of Texas at Austin. As such, it’s most appropriate for a high school audience, and all of the appropriate material has been labeled with the appropriate Texas standards. You can request access for your class or school by emailing contact@watt-watchers.com.

One of the obstacles to becoming an energy expert is that the energy sector uses specialized vocabulary. Becoming fluent in energy requires mastering the terminology and its nuances. There are many different background terms, units, and phrases that need to be mastered on the way toward fluency.

For example, understanding the difference between primary and secondary energy is key to understanding many technical and policy discussions around energy at the global and local levels.

Watt Watchers features an interactive lesson designed specifically for this purpose, available as part of the suite of new materials designed for the launch of Watt Watchers of Texas. Energy Resources: Primary vs. Secondary is aligned to sixth grade Texas standards. The activity includes a handy infographic and a drag-and-drop activity to jump start your journey toward energy literacy.

Activity Overview: This activity uses published statistics from the global population monitors as the input for a variety of mathematical equations.

Problem Statement:

Calculate and explain, from given data, the values of crude birth rate, crude death rate, fertility, doubling time and natural increase rate.

Project Deliverables:

Students should use technology to research various population parameters in order to calculate the following population classifiers:

  • Birth Rate
  • Death Rate
  • Natural Increase Rate
  • Doubling Time
  • Total Fertility Rate

Resources:

The United Nations Statistical Division collects a variety of demographic and social statistics from civil registries worldwide and publishes these data in annual Demographic Yearbooks and also in more specific occasional reports such as the World Fertility Report 2009.

TEKS

WGS.7C

Activity Overview: The key underlying demographic trends that strain energy and water resources are population growth and economic growth. Other key trends are the impacts of global climate change and policy choices, whereby policy makers push for more water-intensive energy and more energy-intensive water.

As the population increases, more people demand more energy and water. However, because of economic growth, which happens in parallel, the demand for energy and water increases faster than the population.1 This phenomenon occurs because economically affluent populations tend to consume more energy and water per person than poorer populations.

Problem Statement:

Describe the nature of exponential growth in human populations.

Project Deliverables:

Students should use technology to research global historical estimates and population records. They should then create a mathematical model based on the data. Many population curves exist online, but students should not copy and paste them for the purpose of this assignment.

After creating their models, students should compare them with the widely accepted population curves to see how well they have modeled historical population trends. Historical data will not allow for the creation of predictions of the future, but many of the population curves will contain future predictions based on possible trajectories for population growth.

Resources:

Exponential population growth can be represented using a simple J curve, but reality is more complex and limited, and could be represented using an S curve.

The United Nations Population Division produces official United Nations population estimates and projections.

The United States Census Bureau has collated many different resources into a comprehensive historical estimate of world population.

TEKS

WGS.7A, WGS.7C


  1. Jill Boberg, Liquid Assets: How Demographic Changes and Water Management Policies Affect Freshwater Resources (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2005); Peter H. Gleick, ed., Water in Crisis: A Guide to the World’s Fresh Water Resources (New York: Oxford, 1993); reports and data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration; and reports from the International Energy Agency.

Activity Overview: Where does electricity come from? Electricity comes from energy that is created from a source or a fuel. Wind is one energy source. Kinetic energy, the energy of things in motion, can be found in air’s movement around the world. Humans harness that energy through wind turbines, which convert the kinetic energy of wind into electricity.

Wind is a very powerful source. Think about the strongest winds that you have ever been in, how much did it make things move around you? Have you ever seen wind from a hurricane or tornado move trees, cars, or houses? Wind is a powerful source of energy. So if wind is so powerful, why don’t we use it for all of our energy? There are challenges with harnessing wind energy. Wind is unpredictable, so we can’t control when it happens or how strongly it happens. However, wind is a renewable resource, which means that the resource replenishes itself faster than humans can use it. As long as the sun is still shining, wind will always be blowing somewhere on Earth.

Materials:

  • square piece of paper
  • thin dowel or pencil with eraser
  • push pin
  • scissors
  • beads (optional)

Procedure:

Students build and color a paper kite. The class takes a few moments outside to see if the wind is strong enough to move their pinwheels. Alternatively, students can use the power from their breath to rotate their pinwheels. If the wheel doesn't spin, explain that the air does not contain enough kinetic energy to move any other objects. Similarly a still day is not sufficient enough to move a wind turbine.

  1. Fold the square corner to corner then unfold. Repeat for the other pair of corners. The square should have two diagonal folds across it.
  2. Make a pencil mark on the folded lines about 1/3 from the center.
  3. Cut along the fold lines from the corner of the paper to the mark.
  4. Pull every other point into the center. Stick the push pin through all four corners of the paper. Make sure the pin pokes through the exact center of the back of the pinwheel. The pin becomes the hub of the pinwheel.
  5. Stick the pin into the thin dowel or into the eraser at the end of a pencil. Optional: You can separate the pinwheel from its handle by inserting the pin through a small bead before inserting it into the dowel or eraser.

TEKS

ART.1.2A, ART.1.2C, SCI.1.8D

Adapted from: Pinwheel Instructions

If you're looking for a resource related to complex, multidisciplinary issues in the energy sector, look no further than Energy 101: Energy Technology & PolicyThe State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) provides access to Energy 101 for zero cost to students and teachers at public schools in the state of Texas through the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

If you are interested in obtaining subsidized access for students or teachers in your district reach out to contact@watt-watchers.com. Several of the chapters from Energy 101 are linked as external resources to activities and project-based learning opportunities created as part of Watt Watchers of Texas. You can see all of these projects online under the High School Activities section of this website.

The following table includes the standards alignment of different sections of Energy 101, which you can use to address a specific standard or to determine the Texas-specific instructional objectives of integrating Energy 101.

ChapterTEKS
3: Energy LiteracyIPC.3B, IPC.3C, PHYS.3B, IPC.3C, IPC.5H
4: Energy BasicsIPC.5D, PHYS.6D, PHYS.6E, CHEM.11A, IPC.5A, IPC.5B, PHYS.6B
5: Energy UsesPHYS.3C, IPC.3F
7: CoalIPC.5I
8: Natural GasIPC.5I
9: PetroleumIPC.5I
10: Unconventional Fossil FuelsIPC.5I
12: HydroelectricIPC.5I, PHYS.6C
13: WindIPC.5I, PHYS.6C
14: SolarIPC.5I
15: GeothermalIPC.5I
16: BioenergyIPC.5I
17: NuclearIPC.5I, IPC.7E, CHEM.12B, PHYS.8D
28: Energy and the EnvironmentIPC.3A, PHYS.3A, IPC.6A, IPC.7F
29: Energy and Climate ChangeIPC.3A, PHYS.3A
30: Energy and WaterIPC.7F

Activity Overview: Food takes energy to grow, store, and prepare. Food is also an important resource. When you think of produce, fruits, and vegetables, what do you think of? Close your eyes and picture a carrot. Do you picture a slim, orange vegetable? Not all carrots are orange and not all carrots are sleek. Many carrots grow crooked or curved. This can happen for many reasons, including when there is a rock in the ground or extreme weather changes.

Carrots are only one example of what is known as ugly produce. Ugly produce is the name of the fruits and vegetables that grow this way. Farms sort out most if not all of their ugly produce and do not send them to grocery stores. Grocery stores don’t think the ugly produce sells, so they don’t buy it, meaning farmers have to get rid of it. Approximately 20% of all U.S. produce never enters the market but ends up left in the field or transported to landfills.¹ This food waste also wastes food and energy.

In reality, there is nothing wrong with the ugly produce. It tastes the same and has all of the same benefits as conventional produce.

So what can you do?

  • Eat ugly produce. When you go to the store and see ugly produce, buy it!
  • Seek new stores. If your stores do not offer ugly produce, you may be able to find some direct from the farms at a farmers’ market or through some vendors who source ugly produce directly from the farms.
  • Educate your school. As a class, create materials and a plan to educate your fellow classmates at school on what ugly produce is and how it’s just the same as conventional produce.

Procedure:

Print and copy the outlines of the fruit and vegetables on the two coloring pages linked here. Ask students to use an ink pen or pencil to redraw the outlines of the fruits based on the description above of the “ugly carrot.” Then use any color combinations that would make these fruits stand out in the grocery store. For example, fruits can take a non-standard color or feature freckles, fruits, or blemishes. Compare different ugly fruits between classmates to see some of the different impressions and look online for examples from the farm.

Ugly Fruit

Ugly Vegetables

TEKS

ART.K.2A, ART.1.2A, ART.2.2A, ART.3.2A, ART.K.2C, ART.1.2C, ART.2.2C, ART.3.2C


  1. https://www.imperfectproduce.com/how-grocery-delivery-service-works

Activity Overview: How often do you eat pre-packaged food? Some of the containers for pre-packaged food are made of plastic that cannot be recycled and only end up in a landfill. So what can you do to reduce your plastic waste?

  • Think about what you buy. Does the food you buy come in non-recyclable plastic? Ask yourself if you could get the same food without wasting plastic. For example, instead of buying individually wrapped frozen food, you could make a bulk meal and store it in reusable individual containers.
  • Buy in bulk. Can the food you buy in pre-packaged containers be bought in bulk and stored in reusable containers?

There are real, easy ways to reduce the waste that you generate on a daily basis. Plastic takes energy to create and to dispose of. When you are intentional about how to reduce your waste, it helps you to reduce energy as well.

Procedure

As a class or in small groups, make a list of foods that come in lots of packaging (outside box, inside bag, individual wrappers, lids and bases, etc.). Then brainstorm ways to reduce landfill-destined packaging either by switching the food itself or by changing the packaging. Encourage creativity with these ideas. Even if the idea is unfeasible or still requires packaging, thinking through packaging in the food sector is an important step in reducing overall energy consumption and waste.

For example, one can purchase yogurt at the grocery store in a cup with a lid in a multipack of many tethered together in another box or wrapper. Alternatively, one can make a batch of yogurt at home or purchase a large store-bought container of yogurt. This can create multiple single-servings of yogurt in bowls at home or portioned into school lunches by dividing into smaller plastic or glass containers that can be washed and reused.

TEKS

SCI.6.1B, SCI.7.1B, SCI.8.1B

Activity Overview: Where does electricity come from? Electricity comes from energy that is created from a source or a fuel. Wind is one energy source. Kinetic energy, the energy of things in motion, can be found in air’s movement around the world. Humans harness that energy through wind turbines, which convert the kinetic energy of wind into electricity.

Wind is a very powerful source. Think about the strongest winds that you have ever been in, how much did it make things move around you? Have you ever seen wind from a hurricane or tornado move trees, cars, or houses? Wind is a powerful source of energy. So if wind is so powerful, why don’t we use it for all of our energy? There are challenges with harnessing wind energy. Wind is unpredictable, so we can’t control when it happens or how strongly it happens. However, wind is a renewable resource, which means that the resource replenishes itself faster than humans can use it. As long as the sun is still shining, wind will always be blowing somewhere on Earth.

Materials:

  • 8.5”x11” piece of paper
  • wooden skewer or drinking straw
  • kite string
  • ribbon (optional)
  • scissors
  • hole punch (optional)
  • tape

Procedure:

Students build and color a paper kite. The class takes a few moments outside to see if the wind is strong enough to move their kites. It’s better to explore this on a windy day, as a still day will not provide enough energy to take the kite on the wind. If it’s a still day, explain that the wind does not contain enough kinetic energy to move any other objects. Similarly a still day is not sufficient enough to move a wind turbine.

  1. Fold the piece of paper in half width-wise (hamburger style).
  2. Draw a line from the top about 1 inch from the folded edge to the bottom about 1 inch from the open edge.
  3. Fold the paper along the line just created.
  4. Flip the paper over and repeat steps 2 and 3.
  5. Open the back flap and tape the two sides together along the crevasse.
  6. Cut the skewer or straw in place. Lay it across the width of the kite tape it down.
  7. Flip the kite onto the reinforced side and straighten the spine edge of the kite.
  8. Place a piece of tape around 1/3 of the way down the spine and about 1 inch from the bottom folded edge to reinforce the spine.
  9. Cut or punch a hole in the reinforcement tape.
  10. Tie the string through this hole with a strong knot.
  11. (Optional) Decorate your kite with different crayons, markers, or pencils. Tape a length of ribbon to the bottom end of the kite.

TEKS

ART.1.2A, ART.1.2C, SCI.1.8D

Adapted from: Instructables Easy Paper Kite for Kids

Activity Overview: The Sun is the ultimate source of energy for almost all processes on Earth, from weather and climate to fossil fuels to the energy students need to get out of bed or run around the track. The only non-solar energy sources are the moon, which provides the forces for tidal energy, and uranium, which provides the raw material for nuclear energy. This activity relies on deep questions and critical thought to trace the ultimate source of energy on Earth to the sun.

Start with those primary energy sources that are obviously solar; photovoltaic panels convert light from the sun into electrical energy. Similarly, concentrated solar power facilities concentrate the sun's heat for industrial processes or thermoelectric energy production.

Lead students from light and heat in the traditional sense of industrial energy production to the more abstract concept of climate and weather, recalling your class's progress through weather and climate science. The sun causes the difference in surface temperature that cause winds, which in turn can generate electricity if harnessed appropriately. Further, the sun's energy powers the global water cycle, which lifts water from it's stores on Earth's surface to condense in the atmosphere and then fall elsewhere, where it can be retained in a reservoir and leveraged for generating hydroelectric power.

Take a step further from precipitation, and consider the sun's role in photosynthesis. The sun provides the energy required to grow all biomass, and therefore also for fossil fuels. Ancient algae and other organisms converted energy from the same sun into their energy to live, and after they died, that energy became oil and natural gas through thousands of years of compression and other forces.

Time: 20 minutes

Write each of the forms of primary energy on the board or project them on the overhead projector. Use structured questions to determine as a class which sources gain their ultimate source of energy from the sun.

Hydroelectric: "What moved water so high that it might have a strong potential energy before flowing through a dam?"

Wind: "Winds are caused by grand scale disparity in surface temperatures. What causes these differences?"

Biomass: "From where do plants receive the energy they need to live and grow?"

Tidal: "What causes the tides?" - This one is answered by the moon.

Fossil Fuels: "What is the ancient raw material for fossil fuels and what living organisms do these most resemble?"

Resources:

The Bradbury Science Museum operated by Los Alamos National Laboratory produced a short one-page regarding the source of nuclear material when they made a statement generalizing that all energy came from the sun.

TEKS

SCI.8.10A

Activity Overview: Texas has many dams, which create many reservoirs for sources of drinking water and water for irrigation.

Students can work individually or in groups to research one of the many dams in Texas. Students should use a variety of relevant print and digital resources to investigate their assigned dam. The investigation should include a brief history, including reason for construction, current status of the structure, and how the dam changed the surface water in the region.

To expand this activity, students could deliver a short presentation to the class, incorporating visual elements.

Time: 20-30 minutes

Resources:

Chapter 12: Hydroelectric Energy from Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy provides an introduction to the physics and history of hydropower. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

Students should identify additional print and digital resources and evaluate them for relevance, validity, and reliability.

TEKS

SS.6.7C, SCI.7.8C, ELA.6.22B, ELA.6.23A, ELA.6.23C, ELA.6.24B, ELA.7.22B, ELA.7.23A, ELA.7.23C, ELA.7.24B, ELA.6.17A.i, ELA.6.17A.iv, ELA.6.17A.ii, ELA.6.17A.iii, ELA.7.17A.i, ELA.7.17A.v, ELA.7.17A.ii, ELA.7.17A.iii, ELA.7.17A.iv

Activity Overview: Despite advances, today the global economy consumes most of its energy through only four technologies: the steam turbine, gas turbine, gasoline engine and diesel engine. The most popular conversion device is the steam turbine. More than 30 quads of primary energy are converted by steam turbines each year to produce electricity. Combustion turbines consume another 9 quads for electricity and transportation. The spark-ignition engine, also known as the gasoline engine, and the compression-ignition engine, also known as the diesel engine, round out the suite of technologies. These four devices are responsible for well over 60% of all our energy conversions, but all four devices were invented in the 1800s or earlier. Therefore, old-fashioned technology drives the modern energy economy. Even the newest conversion devices, like solar photovoltaic cells, were invented in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Today, solar use is growing in number and in popularity. The presence of wind turbines, invented in the late 1800s, is growing as well. Although the energy matrix has changed rapidly since the 1970s, the underlying conversion technologies of the industry are slow to change.

Individually, in groups, or as a class, make a timeline that shows the invention dates of the major energy conversion devices. Ensure the timeline also includes the present day to demonstrate the age of the major technologies. Can your class extrapolate from this timeline that the energy technology landscape is slow to change?

Time: 20-30 minutes

Resources:

The introduction for this activity was reprinted in part from Chapter 5: Energy Uses from Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy, which provides a history of energy sources, end uses, consumption patterns, and transitions between them. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

Students should identify additional print and digital resources and evaluate them for relevance, validity, and reliability.

TEKS

SCI.6.3D, SCI.7.3D, SCI.8.3D, SS.8.27A, SS.7.20A, M.6.2D, M.6.2C, M.6.2A, M.8.2D

Activity Overview: Primary energy consists of unconverted or original fuels. Secondary energy includes resources that have been converted or stored. For example, primary energy sources include petroleum, natural gas, coal, biomass, flowing water, wind, and solar radiation. Those are the fuels that can be mined, reaped, extracted, harvested, or harnessed directly. Secondary energy cannot be harnessed directly from nature; rather, secondary energy is energy that has already been converted. For example, electricity cannot be mined or harvested, though it is available in quick bursts on occasion from lightning. It is generated as a secondary form from primary fuels, like natural gas.

After researching and discussing each of the different individual energy resources, use time to discuss the difference between primary and energy resources and then to classify each of the following resources into one of two categories. Do this activity in small groups or as a whole class on the board.

You can also project the Primary Resource or Secondary Energy Interactive element from Chapter 3 of Energy 101. For the purposes of this activity and the discussion, resource and energy are used mostly interchangeably. The key difference between primary and secondary is the conversion process.

Time: 20-30 minutes

Primary Resource or Secondary Energy?

PrimarySecondary
Oil
Natural Gas
Coal
Uranium
Blowing Wind
Flowing Water
Biomass
Sunlight
Gasoline
Liquid Fuel Oil
Biofuels
Electricity
Hydrogen
Heat

Resources:

The introduction for this activity was reprinted in part from Chapter 3: Energy Literacy from Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy, which provides an introduction to the difference between primary and secondary sources of energy. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

Students should identify additional print and digital resources and evaluate them for relevance, validity, and reliability.

TEKS

SCI.6.7A, ELA.6.22B, ELA.6.23A, ELA.6.24B, ELA.6.25A

Activity Overview: Research is a crucial part of the scientific process, and mastery of which is a turning point between passive learning and active learning. The purpose of this activity is to research and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of different primary energy resources. Primary energy resources include all unconverted or original fuels.

Time: 45 minutes, consider reserving time in the library to leverage print and digital resources in your school’s collection

Students should use a variety of resources to research the primary energy resource solar and use the information to fill out the following chart of advantages and disadvantages.

Solar

AdvantagesDisadvantages

list the pros here

list the cons here

Evaluating the advantages and disadvantages is the first step in analyzing the tradeoffs of different energy resources.

Students can work individually or in groups to research and fill in the chart. However, they should be prepared to discuss their findings either with their groups or in front of the class.

Resources:

Chapter 14: Solar Energy from Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy provides an introduction to the different types of coal and the technologies used to leverage the resource in the energy sector. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

Students should identify additional print and digital resources and evaluate them for relevance, validity, and reliability.

TEKS

SCI.6.7A, ELA.6.22B, ELA.6.23A, ELA.6.24B, ELA.6.25A

Activity Overview: Research is a crucial part of the scientific process, and mastery of which is a turning point between passive learning and active learning. The purpose of this activity is to research and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of different primary energy resources. Primary energy resources include all unconverted or original fuels.

Time: 45 minutes, consider reserving time in the library to leverage print and digital resources in your school’s collection

Students should use a variety of resources to research the primary energy resource geothermal energy and use the information to fill out the following chart of advantages and disadvantages.

Geothermal

AdvantagesDisadvantages

list the pros here

list the cons here

Evaluating the advantages and disadvantages is the first step in analyzing the tradeoffs of different energy resources.

Students can work individually or in groups to research and fill in the chart. However, they should be prepared to discuss their findings either with their groups or in front of the class.

Resources:

Chapter 15: Geothermal Energy from Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy provides an introduction to the different types of coal and the technologies used to leverage the resource in the energy sector. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

Students should identify additional print and digital resources and evaluate them for relevance, validity, and reliability.

TEKS

SCI.6.7A, ELA.6.22B, ELA.6.23A, ELA.6.24B, ELA.6.25A

Activity Overview: Research is a crucial part of the scientific process, and mastery of which is a turning point between passive learning and active learning. The purpose of this activity is to research and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of different primary energy resources. Primary energy resources include all unconverted or original fuels.

Time: 45 minutes, consider reserving time in the library to leverage print and digital resources in your school’s collection

Students should use a variety of resources to research the primary energy resource hydropower and use the information to fill out the following chart of advantages and disadvantages.

Hydropower

AdvantagesDisadvantages

list the pros here

list the cons here

Evaluating the advantages and disadvantages is the first step in analyzing the tradeoffs of different energy resources.

Students can work individually or in groups to research and fill in the chart. However, they should be prepared to discuss their findings either with their groups or in front of the class.

Resources:

Chapter 12: Hydroelectric Energy from Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy provides an introduction to the different types of coal and the technologies used to leverage the resource in the energy sector. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

Students should identify additional print and digital resources and evaluate them for relevance, validity, and reliability.

TEKS

SCI.6.7A, ELA.6.22B, ELA.6.23A, ELA.6.24B, ELA.6.25A

Activity Overview: Research is a crucial part of the scientific process, and mastery of which is a turning point between passive learning and active learning. The purpose of this activity is to research and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of different primary energy resources. Primary energy resources include all unconverted or original fuels.

Time: 45 minutes, consider reserving time in the library to leverage print and digital resources in your school’s collection

Students should use a variety of resources to research the primary energy resource wind and use the information to fill out the following chart of advantages and disadvantages.

Wind

AdvantagesDisadvantages

list the pros here

list the cons here

Evaluating the advantages and disadvantages is the first step in analyzing the tradeoffs of different energy resources.

Students can work individually or in groups to research and fill in the chart. However, they should be prepared to discuss their findings either with their groups or in front of the class.

Resources:

Chapter 13: Wind Energy from Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy provides an introduction to the different types of coal and the technologies used to leverage the resource in the energy sector. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

Students should identify additional print and digital resources and evaluate them for relevance, validity, and reliability.

TEKS

SCI.6.7A, ELA.6.22B, ELA.6.23A, ELA.6.24B, ELA.6.25A

Activity Overview: Research is a crucial part of the scientific process, and mastery of which is a turning point between passive learning and active learning. The purpose of this activity is to research and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of different primary energy resources. Primary energy resources include all unconverted or original fuels.

Time: 45 minutes, consider reserving time in the library to leverage print and digital resources in your school’s collection

Students should use a variety of resources to research the primary energy resource biomass and use the information to fill out the following chart of advantages and disadvantages.

Biomass

AdvantagesDisadvantages

list the pros here

list the cons here

Evaluating the advantages and disadvantages is the first step in analyzing the tradeoffs of different energy resources.

Students can work individually or in groups to research and fill in the chart. However, they should be prepared to discuss their findings either with their groups or in front of the class.

Resources:

Chapter 16: Bioenergy from Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy provides an introduction to the different types of coal and the technologies used to leverage the resource in the energy sector. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

Students should identify additional print and digital resources and evaluate them for relevance, validity, and reliability.

TEKS

SCI.6.7A, ELA.6.22B, ELA.6.23A, ELA.6.24B, ELA.6.25A

Activity Overview: Research is a crucial part of the scientific process, and mastery of which is a turning point between passive learning and active learning. The purpose of this activity is to research and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of different primary energy resources. Primary energy resources include all unconverted or original fuels.

Time: 45 minutes, consider reserving time in the library to leverage print and digital resources in your school’s collection

Students should use a variety of resources to research the primary energy resource nuclear and use the information to fill out the following chart of advantages and disadvantages.

Nuclear

AdvantagesDisadvantages

list the pros here

list the cons here

Evaluating the advantages and disadvantages is the first step in analyzing the tradeoffs of different energy resources.

Students can work individually or in groups to research and fill in the chart. However, they should be prepared to discuss their findings either with their groups or in front of the class.

Resources:

Chapter 17: Nuclear Energy from Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy provides an introduction to the different types of coal and the technologies used to leverage the resource in the energy sector. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

Students should identify additional print and digital resources and evaluate them for relevance, validity, and reliability.

TEKS

SCI.6.7A, ELA.6.22B, ELA.6.23A, ELA.6.24B, ELA.6.25A

Activity Overview: Research is a crucial part of the scientific process, and mastery of it is a turning point between passive learning and active learning. The purpose of this activity is to research and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of different primary energy resources. Primary energy resources include all unconverted or original fuels.

Time: 45 minutes, consider reserving time in the library to leverage print and digital resources in your school’s collection

Students should use a variety of resources to research the primary energy resource natural gas and use the information to fill out the following chart of advantages and disadvantages.

Natural Gas

AdvantagesDisadvantages

list the pros here

list the cons here

Evaluating the advantages and disadvantages is the first step in analyzing the tradeoffs of different energy resources.

Students can work individually or in groups to research and fill in the chart. However, they should be prepared to discuss their findings either with their groups or in front of the class.

Resources:

Chapter 8: Natural Gas from Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy provides an introduction to the different types of coal and the technologies used to leverage the resource in the energy sector. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

Students should identify additional print and digital resources and evaluate them for relevance, validity, and reliability.

TEKS

SCI.6.7A, ELA.6.22B, ELA.6.23A, ELA.6.24B, ELA.6.25A

Activity Overview: Research is a crucial part of the scientific process, and mastery of which is a turning point between passive learning and active learning. The purpose of this activity is to research and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of different primary energy resources. Primary energy resources include all unconverted or original fuels.

Time: 45 minutes, consider reserving time in the library to leverage print and digital resources in your school’s collection

Students should use a variety of resources to research the primary energy resource oil and use the information to fill out the following chart of advantages and disadvantages.

Oil

AdvantagesDisadvantages

list the pros here

list the cons here

Evaluating the advantages and disadvantages is the first step in analyzing the tradeoffs of different energy resources.

Students can work individually or in groups to research and fill in the chart. However, they should be prepared to discuss their findings either with their groups or in front of the class.

Resources:

Chapter 9: Petroleum from Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy provides an introduction to the different types of coal and the technologies used to leverage the resource in the energy sector. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

Students should identify additional print and digital resources and evaluate them for relevance, validity, and reliability.

TEKS

SCI.6.7A, ELA.6.22B, ELA.6.23A, ELA.6.24B, ELA.6.25A

Activity Overview: Research is a crucial part of the scientific process, and mastery of which is a turning point between passive learning and active learning. The purpose of this activity is to research and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of different primary energy resources. Primary energy resources include all unconverted or original fuels.

Time: 45 minutes. Consider reserving time in the library to leverage print and digital resources in your school’s collection

Students should use a variety of resources to research the primary energy resource coal and use the information to fill out the following chart of advantages and disadvantages.

Coal

AdvantagesDisadvantages

list the pros here

list the cons here

Evaluating the advantages and disadvantages is the first step in analyzing the tradeoffs of different energy resources.

Students can work individually or in groups to research and fill in the chart. However, they should be prepared to discuss their findings either with their groups or in front of the class.

Resources:

Chapter 7: Coal from Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy provides an introduction to the different types of coal and the technologies used to leverage the resource in the energy sector. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

Students should identify additional print and digital resources and evaluate them for relevance, validity, and reliability.

TEKS

SCI.6.7A, ELA.6.22B, ELA.6.23A, ELA.6.24B, ELA.6.25A

Activity Overview:Some schools and utility operators estimate that cooling K-12 schools claims roughly 35% of those buildings’ overall electricity consumption, by and large the greatest percentage of any end use. These costs mount, but cutting them cuts the quality of life for students and teachers. Fortunately, air conditioning powered by electricity is not the only way to keep cool in school.

Many other technical solutions exist to keep students and teachers cool during the hot months, but each one has a cost, both to install and to maintain month after month. The crux of this project is evaluating the costs and benefits associated with different cooling strategies.

Time: This activity is appropriate for project-based learning. As defined by the Buck Institute for Education, project-based learning (PBL) invites students to “work on a project over an extended period of time – from a week up to a semester – that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. They demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing a public product or presentation for a real audience.” You could consider scheduling this activity at the beginning of a unit on energy, the environment, or engineering to challenge students to start thinking about different interdisciplinary issues. Alternatively, you could schedule this project as a “final examination” to assess students’ grasp of the material and engagement with the interdisciplinary process. For a different approach, consider scheduling a semester- or year-long project, with routine iterations and presentations. Students’ ideas and engineering designs will improve over the scheduled time as they learn more about the concepts and processes involved.

Resources:

Chapter 24: The Built Environment from Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy provides an introduction to heating and cooling and other energy uses within the built environment, both residential and commercial, and how building design and other technologies affect energy consumption. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

The Orlando Utility Commission compiled a comprehensive resource for K-12 schools including “quick fixes” and “longer-term solutions” for evaluating energy consumption within schools.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Education has commissioned a statewide heat abatement program in order to combat decreasing tradewinds and increasing ocean temperatures. Their approach to cooling schools includes many non-air conditioning options that students could evaluate.

The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture has compiled an interdisciplinary report on the types, applicability, and impact of different geothermal options for the temperature regulation of the built environment. The report contains a case study including installation and cost information for the geothermal system installed at Austin Independent School District (AISD).

Birdville Independent School District (BISD) evaluated a variety of different factors in selecting criteria for their indoor air quality program, which also leveraged the geothermal resource.

Problem Statement:

Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy resources based on cost-benefit ratios.

Project Deliverables:

Students or groups of students should select a school or building and identify and evaluate different solutions for regulating indoor air temperature. Solutions should be evaluated for their benefits for the students and teachers and for their cost to the relevant stakeholders. The evaluation should take the form of a robust report, with sources appropriately assessed and referenced.

Evaluation:

Evaluate students’ projects according to the following criteria. Excellent project performance for each phase is defined below.

Select a Structure: Students should select a school or other building and describe the cooling requirements of the space for the occupants within. The requirements should be reasonable and classified according to both temperature and time of day.

Identify Solutions: Students should identify a range of technical and non-technical solutions to manage indoor temperature along the requirements defined above.

Evaluate Costs: Using a combination of digital, traditional, journalistic, and corporate resources, evaluate the costs of different solutions identified. Excellent work will use contemporary pricing information from different sources.

Judge the Benefit: Analyzing the costs and benefits of different solutions, students should rank which solutions are more and less ideal for the building selected. Excellent work will explore the tradeoffs of different solutions.

Share the Results: Students’ reports should be composed with an appropriate persuasive style and voice with few to zero errors in grammar, spelling, or citations.

Alternative: Pitch Day

To further expand on this project, organize a “pitch day” on which students can present their analysis to their fellow students, other teachers, or even individuals in the community. Consider reaching out to the school district’s energy managers; officials from your local electricity, gas, or water utility; university or community college professors; or business-people to join the audience and to provide feedback.

Evaluation:

Use the modified assessment criteria articulated below:

Select a Structure: Students should select a school or other building and describe the cooling requirements of the space for the occupants within. The requirements should be reasonable and classified according to both temperature and time of day.

Identify Solutions: Students should identify a range of technical and non-technical solutions to manage indoor temperature along the requirements defined above.

Evaluate Costs: Using a combination of digital, traditional, journalistic, and corporate resources, evaluate the costs of different solutions identified. Excellent work will use contemporary pricing information from different sources.

Judge the Benefit: Analyzing the costs and benefits of different solutions, students should rank which solutions are more and less ideal for the building selected. Excellent work will explore the tradeoffs of different solutions.

Communicate the Results: Students should create a short but succinct presentation, which outlines the costs and benefits of the solutions identified. They should also compose a short “executive summary” with more information and their sources, composed with few to zero errors in grammar, spelling, or citations.

Provide Feedback: Students should compose feedback for other students’ presentations, which provides thoughtful and meaningful criticism of others’ solutions. The feedback should highlight both strengths and weaknesses in proposed solutions in a constructive and non-biased way.

NGSS

HS-ESS3-2, RST.11-12.1, RST.11-12.8, MP.2

TEKS

WGS.8A, IPC3.C, IPC5.I
ELA.9.13A, ELA.10.13A, ELA.11.13A, ELA.12.13A, ELA.9.13B, ELA.10.13B, ELA.11.13B, ELA.12.13B, ELA.9.13C, ELA.10.13C, ELA.11.13C, ELA.12.13C, ELA.9.13D, ELA.10.13D, ELA.11.13D, ELA.12.13D, ELA.9.13E, ELA.10.13E, ELA.11.13E, ELA.12.13E, ELA.10.15A.vi, ELA.11.15A.vi, ELA.12.15A.vi, ELA.9.16A, ELA.10.16A, ELA.11.16A, ELA.12.16A, ELA.9.16B, ELA.10.16B, ELA.11.16B, ELA.12.16B, ELA.9.16C, ELA.10.16C, ELA.11.16D, ELA.12.16D, ELA.9.16D, ELA.10.16D, ELA.11.16C, ELA.12.16C, ELA.9.16E, ELA.10.16E, ELA.11.16E, ELA.12.16E, ELA.10.16F, ELA.11.16F, ELA.12.16F, ELA.12.16G

Activity Overview: Richard Smalley presented a list of problems in order of importance to society, beginning with energy and moving through water, food, environment, poverty, terrorism and war, disease, education, democracy, and finally population. Smalley carefully considered the order of the problems on his list. From Smalley’s perspective, securing and managing energy and water provide the ability to solve each successive problem and enable all other aspects of society. For example, because representative democracy struggles without an educated populace, education eclipses democracy. Resource constraints and poverty often trigger war and terrorism. Although solving challenges will not immediately bring peace to Earth, tackling these problems removes some contributing factors to global strife and unrest.

This introduction has been reprinted from Resourcefulness: An Introduction to the Energy-Water Nexus. Access to the full text is provided by the generous support of Itron, Inc.

Analyzing the grand challenges on this list and other interdisciplinary challenges in science, engineering, and resource management is a great way to develop the kind of interdisciplinary problem solving required for the twenty-first century workforce. Looking at the analysis as a project allows for ample opportunity to assess students’ engagement with and mastery of many topics.

Time: This activity is appropriate for project-based learning. As defined by the Buck Institute for Education, project-based learning (PBL) invites students to “work on a project over an extended period of time – from a week up to a semester – that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. They demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing a public product or presentation for a real audience.” You could consider scheduling this activity at the beginning of a unit on energy, the environment, or engineering to challenge students to start thinking about different interdisciplinary issues. Alternatively, you could schedule this project as a “final examination” to assess students’ grasp of the material and engagement with the interdisciplinary process. For a different approach, consider scheduling a semester- or year-long project with routine presentations.

Resources:

Resourcefulness: An Introduction to the Energy-Water Nexus contains an entire section on the diverse water resources, technologies, and issues.

The United Nations and many other international organizations have identified water as a major global issue and compiled an in-depth overview of water related issues.

Project Statement: Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.

Project Deliverables: Students or groups of students should create a robust report investigating and analyzing one of the major global issues identified above or another relevant issue of the students’ choosing. For added value, a summary of issues, criteria, and constraints could be presented to the class.

Evaluation:

Evaluate students’ projects according to the following criteria. Excellent project performance for each phase is defined below.

Identifying a Challenge: Students’ challenge should sit at the intersection of societal needs and wants. There should be sufficient trade offs for a multidisciplinary analysis.

Assessing Resources: Many global issues are political, invoking agenda setting and bias in research, review, and reporting. Students should integrate and evaluate a wide range of sources noting their provenance, relevant bias or agenda. Excellent work will explore the connection between source (funding, author/agency, political party, etc.) and bias.

Specifying Criteria: Students should identify a wide range of both qualitative and quantitative criteria for solutions in the sector of their selected challenge. Solutions should be informed by and supported by background research.

Communicate the Solution: Students’ reports should include well-reasoned criteria for solutions to their selected global problems with all of their sources and their analysis thereof. Excellent work will include few to zero errors in grammar, spelling, or citations.

Alternative: Designing Solutions to Grand Challenges

Rather than simply identifying criteria for a solution, this project can be expanded into an engineering design challenge, in which students design or create solutions to meet the criteria identified. Students can work individually or in groups. Encourage students to evaluate what works and what doesn’t in the current global ecosystem and to explore solutions either technology-based, policy-based, or based on some interdisciplinary approach. For more information on the engineering design process, you can consult the background in Energy Engineering Design.

Evaluation:

Use the modified assessment criteria articulated below:

Identifying a Challenge: Students’ challenge should sit at the intersection of societal needs and wants. There should be sufficient trade offs for a multidisciplinary analysis.

Assessing Resources: Many global issues are political, invoking agenda setting and bias in research, review, and reporting. Students should integrate and evaluate a wide range of sources noting their provenance, relevant bias or agenda. Excellent work will explore the connection between source (funding, author/agency, political party, etc.) and bias.

Specifying Criteria: Students should identify a wide range of both qualitative and quantitative criteria for solutions in the sector of their selected challenge. Solutions should be informed by and supported by background research.

Develop a Prototype: The prototype solution should address both qualitative and quantitative criteria specified, and all of the features and their relationship to the project requirements should be well documented.

Refine the Solution: Students can proceed through as many iterations as appropriate and should be evaluated whether the changes are documented clearly and completely; it is not necessary for the solution to meet all of the project specifications, as long as this is documented and explained.

Communicate the Results: Students should compile the engineering equivalent of a laboratory notebook, which details the process completely (assessed through criteria listed above), as well as a final summary, which explains how well the final solution fits the functional requirements, where further improvements could be made by another team, and any other relevant project information, composed with few to zero errors in grammar, spelling, or citations.

Alternative: Pitch Day

To further expand on this project, organize a “pitch day” on which students can present their solutions to their fellow students, other teachers, or even individuals in the community. Consider reaching out to the school district’s energy managers; officials from your local electricity, gas, or water utility; university or community college professors; or business-people to join the audience and to provide feedback.

Evaluation:

Use the modified assessment criteria articulated below:

Identifying a Challenge: Students’ challenge should sit at the intersection of societal needs and wants. There should be sufficient trade offs for a multidisciplinary analysis.

Assessing Resources: Many global issues are political, invoking agenda setting and bias in research, review, and reporting. Students should integrate and evaluate a wide range of sources noting their provenance, relevant bias or agenda. Excellent work will explore the connection between source (funding, author/agency, political party, etc.) and bias.

Specifying Criteria: Students should identify a wide range of both qualitative and quantitative criteria for solutions in the sector of their selected challenge. Solutions should be informed by and supported by background research.

Develop a Prototype: The prototype solution should address both qualitative and quantitative criteria specified, and all of the features and their relationship to the project requirements should be well documented.

Refine the Solution: Students can proceed through as many iterations as appropriate and should be evaluated whether the changes are documented clearly and completely; it is not necessary for the solution to meet all of the project specifications, as long as this is documented and explained.

Communicate the Results: Students should create a short but succinct presentation, which outlines the challenge, criteria, and solution proposed. They should also compose a short “executive summary” with more information and their sources, composed with few to zero errors in grammar, spelling, or citations.

Provide Feedback: Students should compose feedback for other students’ presentations, which provides thoughtful and meaningful criticism of others’ solutions. The feedback should highlight both strengths and weaknesses in proposed solutions in a constructive and non-biased way.

NGSS

HS-ETS1-1, RST.11-12.7, RST.11-12.8, RST.11-12.9, MP.2, MP.4

TEKS

IPC.2B, CHEM.2E, PHYS.2D, WGS.8A
ELA.9.13A, ELA.10.13A, ELA.11.13A, ELA.12.13A, ELA.9.13B, ELA.10.13B, ELA.11.13B, ELA.12.13B, ELA.9.13C, ELA.10.13C, ELA.11.13C, ELA.12.13C, ELA.9.13D, ELA.10.13D, ELA.11.13D, ELA.12.13D, ELA.9.13E, ELA.10.13E, ELA.11.13E, ELA.12.13E, ELA.10.15A.vi, ELA.11.15A.vi, ELA.12.15A.vi, ELA.9.16A, ELA.10.16A, ELA.11.16A, ELA.12.16A, ELA.9.16B, ELA.10.16B, ELA.11.16B, ELA.12.16B, ELA.9.16C, ELA.10.16C, ELA.11.16D, ELA.12.16D, ELA.9.16D, ELA.10.16D, ELA.11.16C, ELA.12.16C, ELA.9.16E, ELA.10.16E, ELA.11.16E, ELA.12.16E, ELA.10.16F, ELA.11.16F, ELA.12.16F, ELA.12.16G

Activity Overview: The engineering design process is an iterative series of steps to ideate, implement, test, and improve ideas and their physical manifestations. Professional engineers follow this process developing projects and products, but the steps are simple enough to be applied across a wide range of concepts and industries, even in high school. In fact, the engineering design process is an adaptation of the scientific method. Evaluate the diagram on this page which demonstrates the difference between the traditional scientific method and the engineering design process, or engineering method.

The engineering design process does not have a universally accepted series of steps. Different groups and different individuals will take a slightly altered approach to the process. However, at the beginning there is a problem, and at the end the solution is communicated. This project is appropriate for individuals and for groups.

Time: This activity is appropriate for project-based learning. As defined by the Buck Institute for Education, project-based learning (PBL) invites students to “work on a project over an extended period of time – from a week up to a semester – that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. They demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing a public product or presentation for a real audience.”¹ You could consider scheduling this activity at the beginning of a unit on energy, the environment, or engineering to challenge students to start thinking about different interdisciplinary issues. Alternatively, you could schedule this project as a “final examination” to assess students’ grasp of the material and engagement with the interdisciplinary process. For a different approach, consider scheduling a semester- or year-long project, with routine iterations and presentations. Students’ ideas and engineering designs will improve over the scheduled time as they learn more about the concepts and processes involved.

Resources:

Chapter 4: Energy Basics from Energy 101: Energy Technology & Policy provides a comprehensive introduction to the different forms of energy and the laws of thermodynamics, which govern the conversions thereof. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

The first law of thermodynamics, also known as the law of conservation of energy, states that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed in a closed system. The second law of thermodynamics, also known as the law of entropy, states that entropy in a system always increases. Entropy in thermodynamic systems manifests in the loss of efficiency in energy conversions. Students project design parameters (and project outcomes) should take these laws of thermodynamics into consideration. You may direct students to evaluate Energy 101’s Energy Efficiency Calculator, which provides several preset conversions and also provides a stage for students to investigate their own planned conversions.

The efficiency of many different energy conversions is well documented online, and students should use reputable online and other resources to determine the efficiency of their planned conversions.

Project Statement:

Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.

Project Procedure:

Introduce the project statement to students along with an overview of the engineering design process. Explain that students will need to decide on a problem relating to the the project statement and a solution thereto. Students will also define the constraints as appropriate to their problem, and the testing procedures therefore. Finally, students will communicate their project to their peers for evaluation. Each stage of the process can be assessed independently, or the entire project can be assessed holistically.

Evaluation:

Evaluate students’ projects according to the following criteria. Excellent project performance for each phase is defined below.

Define a Problem: Student fully understands the project statement and identifies a problem with a measurable solution related to energy conversions.

Do Background Research: Student identifies a succinct list of reputable sources that document the background and context of their identified problem and produces a well composed summary of the problem with few to zero errors in grammar, spelling, or citations.

Specify Requirements: Project specifications should be relevant to the problem and within realistic parameters depending on the context based on researched and documented real efficiencies.

Develop a Prototype: The prototype solution should convert one form of energy to another taking into consideration the project specifications, and all of the features and their relationship to the project requirements should be well documented.

Test the Solution: The prototype, real or theoretical, should be tested to see how it meets project requirements through repeatable, verifiable testing methodologies, which are well documented.

Refine the Solution: Students can proceed through as many iterations as appropriate and should be evaluated whether the changes and repeat tests are documented clearly and completely; it is not necessary for the solution to meet all of the project specifications, as long as this is documented and explained.

Communicate the Results: Students should compile the engineering equivalent of a laboratory notebook, which details the process completely (assessed through criteria listed above), as well as a final summary, which explains how well the final solution fits the functional requirements, where further improvements could be made by another team, and any other relevant project information, composed with few to zero errors in grammar, spelling, or citations.

Alternative: Energy Engineering Evaluation

If your instructional approach does not include creating new knowledge as per the project outlined above, this project may be adapted to evaluate existing knowledge by reconfiguring the project statement. This adaptation of the project may be applicable to some students in upper middle school.

Rather than presenting students with the project statement to “design, build, and refine” a new device, assign a well known energy conversion device to each student or groups of students. Examples include but are not limited to wind turbines, internal combustion engines, and electrical motors. Chapter 4 of Energy Technology and Policy provides many real examples from which to choose. Access to Energy 101 for Texas students and teachers is provided for free by the State Energy Conservation Office as part of the Watt Watchers of Texas program.

The adapted assessment criteria are as follows:

Do Background Research: Student identifies a succinct list of reputable sources that document the background, context, and history of their conversion device and produces a well composed summary of the device with few to zero errors in grammar, spelling, or citations.

Evaluate the Solution: Students should be able to extrapolate from their research what problem their device was intended to solve and the functional requirements thereof. Students should evaluate the device’s function, efficiency, and other qualities against both historical and modern requirements.

Communicate the Results: Students should compile a short report or presentation to their peers, which details the background, context, and history of their conversion device and their own evaluation of it, composed with few to zero errors in grammar, spelling, or citations.


  1. https://www.bie.org/about/what_pbl

TEKS

IPC.3F, CHEM.3F, SCI.8.3D, PHYS.2D, IPC.5D, PHYS.6D, CHEM.11B, CHEM.11A, PHYS.6E, PHYS.6B
ELA.9.13A, ELA.10.13A, ELA.11.13A, ELA.12.13A, ELA.9.13B, ELA.10.13B, ELA.11.13B, ELA.12.13B, ELA.9.13C, ELA.10.13C, ELA.11.13C, ELA.12.13C, ELA.9.13D, ELA.10.13D, ELA.11.13D, ELA.12.13D, ELA.9.13E, ELA.10.13E, ELA.11.13E, ELA.12.13E, ELA.10.15A.vi, ELA.11.15A.vi, ELA.12.15A.vi, ELA.9.16A, ELA.10.16A, ELA.11.16A, ELA.12.16A, ELA.9.16B, ELA.10.16B, ELA.11.16B, ELA.12.16B, ELA.9.16C, ELA.10.16C, ELA.11.16D, ELA.12.16D, ELA.9.16D, ELA.10.16D, ELA.11.16C, ELA.12.16C, ELA.9.16E, ELA.10.16E, ELA.11.16E, ELA.12.16E, ELA.10.16F, ELA.11.16F, ELA.12.16F, ELA.12.16G

NGSS

HS-PS3-3, PS3.A, PS3.D, ETS1.A, WHST.9-12.7, MP.2, MP.4, HSN.Q.A.1, HSN.Q.A.2, HSN.Q.A.3

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