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.
The heart of this activity is a laboratory investigation that models the production of silicon. The activity is an investigation of silicon: the sources, uses, properties, importance in the fields of photovoltaics (solar cells/renewable energy) and integrated circuits industries, and, to a limited extent, environmental impact of silicon production.
This board game, designed for middle school students, introduces the concepts of energy use in our lives and the real impact that personal choices can have on our energy consumption, energy bills, and fuel supply.
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.
In this 'Energy Education for the 21st Century' design challenge, students construct and evaluate a solar-powered model car. Students utilize the design process and undergo review by their peers to select an optimal gear ratio and components for their car. As a culminating activity, students compete in a Solar Sprint race modeled after the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Junior Solar Sprint competition.
In this activity, students consider the impact and sustainability of use of different classes of biofuels on the economy, the environment, and society. Students also learn about bioelectricity and how converting biomass to electricity may be the more efficient way to fuel cars in the 21st century.
The Climate Momentum Simulation allows users to quickly compare the resulting sea level rise, temperature change, atmospheric CO2, and global CO2 emissions from six different policy options: 1) Business As Usual, 2) March 2009 Country Proposals, 3) Flatten CO2 emissions by 2025, 4) 29% below 2009 levels by 2040, 5) 80% reduction of global fossil fuel plus a 90% reduction in land use emissions by 2050, and 6) 95 reduction of CO2 emissions by 2020). Based on the more complex C-ROADS simulator.
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.
In this activity, students examine the energy required to make a cheeseburger, calculate its associated carbon footprint, and discuss the carbon emissions related to burger production. The activity is geared toward Canadian students but can be customized to the consumption patterns and carbon footprint of American students since the resource references the amount of burgers consumed by Americans in addition to Canadians.