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Teaching Sustainability in High Schools:Teachers' Guide

Module 2: Focus on Physics

Secondary

Description

This ESD resource combines experiential learning activities, student handouts and summary assignments in engaging lessons that address renewable energy and sustainable development. Lessons highlight the benefits of using green technology to produce electricity as compared to fossil fuels.

The package focuses on the key components and processes used by solar cells, wind turbines, steam turbines, hydroelectric power plants (flowing water), and fuel cells in generating electricity.

Teachers may choose to explore all or some of the following resource components.

Lesson 5A:  Solar Energy

Activity 1 : Video Clip:Everything Comes From the Sun

After discussing how energy is produced by the sun, students use a graphic organizer to explore the source of different forms of energy (wind, hydroelectric, biofuels, fossil fuels, nuclear). They create and film a short role play, news clip, or  documentary (using a phone or digital camera) to highlight the fact that all energy does come from the sun.

Activity 2 : Experiment: Solar Efficiency

This ‘hands-on” activity allows students to investigate the efficiency of a typical solar cell by comparing the voltage produced from a cell in full sun to a known mass of water evaporated  by the same amount of solar radiation.

Summary and homework activities include an essay discussing solar energy, a mind map demonstrating the interconnectedness of solar cell components, and short response questions addressing the key concepts.

Lesson 5B : How Do We Make Electricity form Wind Turbines?

Activity 1 : Discussion: Vertical and Horizontal Wind Turbines

After discuss their personal experiences with wind turbines and examine large scale diagrams of both vertical and horizontal turbines. Using a t-chart, students identify differences between the two types and discuss the physical reasons for the differences.

Activity 2: Making a Model Wind Turbine

Students design and create a model wind turbine. They test their designs with regards to the workability of the blades and discuss why some turbine designs work better than others.

Summary activities include an essay on the formation of wind, a mind map of the various ways to improve wind turbine performance and short response questions addressing the key concepts

Lesson 6: How Do We Make Electricity from Steam?

Activity 1 : Discussion: Rewriting the Generator

Using information found in the key points and background information provided, students fill in the missing pages of a generator manual.

Activity 2 : Demonstration: Steam Generation

Teachers demonstrate two of the main processes involved in steam generation- the conversion of water to high pressure steam and using steam this steam to rotate a turbine shaft.

Homework ideas include an essay on how to turn water to steam using renewable energy sources, creating a mind map that shows the key steps to electricity generation and short response questions dealing with the key concepts.

Lesson 7 : Flowing Water: How Do We Make Electricity from Flowing Water

Activity 1: Discussion: Using Waterways for Energy

Students explore the energy in water, the various sources of water, and how water is converted into useful energy.

Activity 2: Experiment: The Force of Water

Students build a device from 1L milk cartons to investigate how hydroelectric facilities use the energy stored in bodies of water to create hydrostatic pressure.

Summary activities and homework ideas include writing an essay on how ocean currents and tides can be another source of energy, researching and creating a mind map of the many kinds of hydroelectric designs from around the world, and answering response questions related to key concepts.

Lesson 8: Fuel Cells: How Do We Make Electricity from Gas?

Activity 1: Experiment: Splitting Hydrogen

This lab allows students to carry out the electrolysis of water and create hydrogen fuel.

Activity 2: Multi-media: ‘Fuelm Chips”

Groups of 2-3 students apply their knowledge of fuel cells to create a two minute film clip detailing the important characteristics of one of six types of fuel cells. These are then presented and discussed with the class

Summary activities and homework ideas include writing an essay on the various uses of hydrogen fuel cells, creating a mind map that details the physical processes involved in fuel cells, and answering short response questions related to the key concepts.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Organizing and correctly using apparatus and materials to carry out an investigation
  • Working cooperatively with team members to carry out a plan
  • Interpreting patterns and trends in data
  • Problem solving/ creative thinking skills
  • Identifying further problems or questions to be answered
  • Evaluating ideas, information, and alternatives
  • Selecting and integrating information from various print and electronic sources
  • Forming essential links between the scientific and natural world
  • Responding and reflecting on media text
  • Listening critically to others ideas, thoughts and points of view

Strengths

  • Excellent support for teachers
  • Very good background information for both teachers and students
  • Suggested answers for assigned work are given
  • The resource is interesting and up-to-date
  • Pre-lab preparation instructions for teachers are clear and easy to follow
  • Experimental procedures for students are well-written
  • Resource provides issue-related information and gives students a chance to practice real science and obtain results relevant to sustainability issues
  • Provides different ways to collect information- experiment, class discussion, research, incidental peer teaching
  • Has a multi-disciplinary approach
  • Demonstrates effectively the complexity that characterizes environmental issues
  • Links are relevant to the topic and are appropriate for both teachers and students
  • Students are given opportunities to clarify and express their roles and values on sustainable development

Weaknesses

  • Assessment tools must be developed by the teacher
  • No accommodations suggested
  • Teachers must generate discussion questions for laboratory results
  • Action project is not developed

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource could be used as a supplement for an electricity/electrical technologies unit in a science class or to promote environmental awareness and sustainable development in environmental science, physics, social studies, and geography classes. It could also be used as a "stand alone" enrichment unit in any of the above.

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.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Energy Flow in Technological Systems
        • Science 14: Understanding Energy Transfer Technologies
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 20-4 (Knowledge and Employability Science): Understanding Common Energy Conversion Systems
        • Science 24:Understanding Common Energy Conversion Systems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physics 30: Forces and Fields
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 30: Electromagnetic Energy
        • Science 30: : Energy and the Environment
  • British Columbia
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    • Grade 11
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      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physics 11: Skills, Methods and Nature of Physics
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Sustainable Resources 11: Energy
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science and Technology 11:Science Module: Natural Resources and the Environment
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 12:Resources and Environmental Sustainability
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physics 12: Electric Circuits
        • Physics 12: Electromagnetism
  • Manitoba
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    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Senior 3 Physics: Topic 4: Fields
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Current Topics in the Sciences 30S: Science, Technology, Society & the Environment
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography: A Human Perspective - World Resources, Energy, and Environment
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Electricity
        • Senior Physics 4: Topic 3
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interdisciplinary Topics in Science 40S: Science, Technology, Society and the Environment
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Citizenship and Sustainability: Area of Inquiry: Environment
        • Global Issues
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physics 11: Work And Energy
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 120: Investigating Environmental Issues
        • Environmental Science 120: Sustainable Development
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Canadian Geography 120:A Geographic Perspective on a Current Canadian Issue
        • Canadian Geography 120:Managing Natural Resources
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physics 12: Fields
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Issues 120: Issues Facing the Global Village
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physics 2204: Work and Energy
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 3205: Introduction to Environmental Science
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physics 3204 : Fields
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Energy Flow in Technological Systems
        • Science 14: Understanding Energy Transfer Technologies
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 20-4:Understanding Common Energy Conversion Systems
        • Science 24: Understanding Common Energy Conversion Systems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physics 30: Forces and Fields
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 30: Electromagnetic Energy
        • Science 30: Energy and the Environment
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
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      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 10: Spaceship Earth
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physics 12: Fields
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 14: Understanding Energy Transfer Technologies
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science24:Understanding Common Energy Conversion Systems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physics 30: Forces and Fields
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 30: Electromagnetic Energy
        • Science 30: Energy and the Environment
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Conservation of Energy
        • Environmental Science (Univ/College Prep.) Scientific Solutions to Contemporary Environmental Challenges
        • Environmental Science (Workplace Prep.) Energy Conservation
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Introduction to Spacial Technologies: (Open):Using Spacial technologies to Support Sustainability and Stewardship
        • Regional Geography (Univ./College Prep.): Sustainability and Stewardship
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Electricity and Magnetism
        • Energy and Society
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Spatial Technologies in Action (Univ./College Prep.) Using Spatial Technologies to Support Sustainability
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep) : Ecological Systems: Interactions and Interdependence
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Univ./College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship of Natural Resources
        • The Environment & Resource Management (Workplace Preparation): Human-Environment Interactions
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (College Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
        • World Issues: A Geographic Analysis (Univ. Prep.):Sustainability and Stewardship
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Electricity and Magnetism (College Prep.)
        • Energy Transformations (College Prep.)
        • Gravitational, Electric and Magnetic Fields (University Prep.)
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Workplace Preparation): Electricity At Home And At Work
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physics 521A: Momentum and Energy
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 621A: Environmental Challenges and Successes
        • Environmental Science 621A: Natural Resources
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physics 621A: Electricity and Magnetism
  • Quebec
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Applied Science & Technology:The Technological World
        • Environmental Science & Technology: The Technological World
        • Science & Technology: The Technological World
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Transformation of energy
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Contemporary World: Environment
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physics 20:The Physics of Everyday Things
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Social Studiees 20:World Issues - Environment
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Physics 30: Electricity
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Skills, Methods and Nature of Physics
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science Module: Natural Resources and the Environment
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 12: Resources and Environmental Sustainability
      • Physics
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Electric Circuits
        • Electromagnetism

Themes Addressed

  • Energy (3)

    • Alternative Energy
    • Energy Generation
    • Energy Use
  • Science and Technology (1)

    • Appropriate Technology

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

A positive bias regarding the need to develop attitudes, technologies and processes to encourage sustainable development is presented. Students gather facts, information, and make their own conclusions.

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
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

The complexities of environmental issues and sustainable solutions are recognized. The resource provides some thought-provoking activities and assignments that encourage students to promote green energy technologies.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

Poor-no authentic action experiences are included.

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 Satisfactory

The resource gives students the opportunity to do some self reflection and identify their own values regarding the lifestyle   and technological changes that must occur to move towards sustainable development.

Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
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

Although there is no out-of-doors experience, the many activities that support sustainable development will promote stewardship.

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
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 Good

Various activities allow students to see the effects of past practices and to highlight the current situation. The future is seen as positive only if the students see the value of sustainable living and supporting sustainable energy development.

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

Students are able to discover answers on their own through guided 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

This is primarily a science resource but there are opportunities for addressing outcomes in social studies, geography, technology, media arts, and language arts.

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 Good
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

The resource provides a wide variety of activities to address a range of learning styles. There are no accommodations suggested for students with learning difficulties.  Students will require age-appropriate reading skills to successfully complete assigned work.

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
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
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 Poor/Not considered

Some assessment tools are provided but there are no rubrics for evaluating student work.

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 Satisfactory
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 Poor/Not considered

There sre no case studies.

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 Satisfactory

Although the resource is specific with regards to content and the medium in which students work, there are opportunities to delve into chosen issues with good support from suggested resources.

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.