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Renewable Energy

Elementary, Middle

Description

One of the best ways to teach high school students about renewable energy technologies is to get hands-on by building working models. In this fun, engaging science program, high school students will learn how to build a wind turbine, solar oven, hydroelectric generator, biogas generator, electric vehicle or energy storage—so they can see firsthand how applied science is helping create a more sustainable future.  The unit allows students to be self-directed in their learning and in their model making. This program also features lessons for middle-school students.

All the initial background information for students, including facts and model plans, are available on the   Re-energy website for download. Links to other sources for student research are also listed on the site.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Safe use of tools.
  • How to work with templates.
  • Many other skills will be tied to the model students choose to build.

Strengths

  • The unit is sequentially organized and is easy to follow.
  • There is a student handout outlining the tasks.
  • The Pembina Re-energy website provides easy access to the required background information, model plans and links where students may begin their research.
  • The unit is somewhat self-directed.
  • The supplies are the responsibility of the students.

Weaknesses

  • The list of topics students may choose from is limited and likely results in duplication.
  • It may be unreasonable to expect students to supply solar cells, etc.
  • The Savonius wind turbine supplies list is extensive, but is missing a few crucial components (such as the magnets).
  • Students may encounter problems as they build their models (i.e. having prototypes on hand for learners to examine is recommended).
  • There is no rubric provided for student or teacher use and no formative evaluation strategies are suggested.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

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  • Ontario
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        • Intermediate Industrial Technology Education: Technological Problem Solving
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  • Saskatchewan
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    • Grade 6
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  • Yukon Territory
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    • Grade 6
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        • Properties of objects and shapes can be described, measured, and compared using volume, area, perimeter, and angles
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Math
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Data from circle graphs can be used to illustrate proportion and to compare and interpret.
        • Linear relations can be represented in many connected ways to identify regularities and make generalizations

Themes Addressed

  • Energy (3)

    • Alternative Energy
    • Energy Generation
    • Energy Use

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good
  • Pembina clearly states their philosophy on sustainable energy.
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good
  • Students are asked to explore the benefits and drawbacks of their chosen topic.
  • Students will determine how well they cover all of these dimensions – making them aware of these dimensions beforehand will help.
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good
  • Students address a range of issues concerning the energy source chosen.
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory
  • The extension ideas include an idea to increase community awareness of renewable energy sources.
Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Very Good
  • Students are asked to state their personal opinions on the resource of study within their presentation.
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
  • While study of people is not a direct component of the unit, the historical research could indirectly lead students to achieving this goal.
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good
  • Experiences out-of-doors are not a direct component of the program.
  • Students are creating a replica of sustainable technology that could be used outside. Earth-care is paramount.
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good
  • Students are looking at countrywide use of the resource.
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Very Good
  • Students are required to review the history of the energy source as well as report on its current use in Canada.
  • A future vision is presented in the initial lessons by the teacher.
Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good
  • The lessons utilize coupled inquiry - a combination of guided and open inquiry.
Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good
  • The unit requires students to view their topic through many different lenses.
Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Poor/Not considered
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory
  • Ideas for adaptations are not provided.
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good
  • The model making is completely experiential and may help students develop a connection to their classmates, as well as to the Earth’s natural forces.
Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
  • Students work in groups or individually; they choose. All must present their learning back to the group.
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory
  • The evaluation criteria presents a necessary list of project components and relative weight for each component.
  • Crieteria for excellence is undeveloped.
  • No rubric is provided.
Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Very Good
  • Opportunity for shared-learning occurs during research, discussion and presentation times.
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Very Good
  • The different sustainable resources to be studied present a range of possibilities for informative presentations.
Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Very Good
  • The students are making the decisions within an established framework.
Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.