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Sustainable Engineering

Secondary, Middle

Description

This activity-based, ESD resource integrates sustainability issues into the teaching of engineering, technology and product design concepts. Students are asked to describe and evaluate the impacts of engineering on the environment and to reflect on their own feelings about these effects. Further, students suggest alternatives and solutions to the economic, social, and environmental impacts associated with the design, use, and disposal of everyday products. Two of the eight lessons focus on alternatives to carbon-based production. 

Each lesson includes learning objectives, outcomes, activity descriptions and worksheets/ graphic organizers. Activities can be delivered as stand-alone lessons  or collectively as a self-contained unit. Click on the links below to access the individual lesson plans.

Belief Circles

This practical activity, which encourages discussion and value clarification, helps students identify their current beliefs about engineering and its importance in the world. Belief cards are included.

Design Abacus

An eco-design tool is used to evaluate and compare everyday products against agreed upon sustainability criteria. Students examine information and group/ class discussions follow.

Let's Negotiate

Students examine how engineers and designers balance different specifications when developing new products, including sustainability specifications. Groups prioritize criteria cards that examine key issues like the use of local materials, fair trade, and energy minimization.

Line Ups

Students participate in an activity which asks them to explore, at a basic level, the social, economic and environmental impacts of the production, use, and disposal of everyday products. After examining these products, with regards to buying, using, and disposing, students discuss and debate the sustainability issues associated with each part of their life cycle.

Moja Island

The purpose of this lesson is to increase the knowledge and understanding of different types of renewable energy sources available in different parts of the world. Students consider the variety of energy options available to four communities on fictitious Moja Island and select the most appropriate technology to meet their needs. Renewable energy cards, a map and important information about the needs of each community on the island are included.

Six Rs

Students are asked to consider using the 6Rs (reduce, reuse, refuse, rethink, repair, recycle) as a means of re-thinking the way in which products are manufactured and used so as to avoid running out of material and energy sources in the future. Students develop definitions for the 6Rs and identify products which illustrate the 6R's in action.

Where's the Impact?

As a follow up to Lesson Three, students are asked to describe and evaluate the environmental impacts of an engineered product throughout the life cycle. They then are asked to suggest innovative ways in which these impacts could be reduced at each stage (source materials, production, distribution, marketing , use, and disposal). It is suggested that a CD pack be purchased to guide the lesson.

Winners and Losers

Students look at how the manufacture, use, and disposal of a product have different impacts on different groups of people- sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Students learn that their own product choices have far-reaching effects socially, economically, politically and environmentally.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Building consensus
  • Critical and creative thinking strategies
  • Using an eco-tool to evaluate a product
  • Problem solving and decision making strategies
  • Working cooperatively with group members
  • Proposing solutions to a given problem

Strengths

  • Addresses learning outcomes in technology education and design courses
  • An important, up to date topic
  • Group work allows for shared dialogue and incidental peer teaching
  • Provides different ways to collect and analyze information- energy cards, mind maps, belief cards, eco-design tool, unique graphic organizers, kin-aesthetic activities
  • Case studies promote empathy
  • Allows students to clarify and express values, beliefs, and attitudes
  • Open-ended solutions  and creative thinking are encouraged
  • Demonstrates the complexity of sustainability issues

Weaknesses

  • Little background material provided for teachers and students
  • No authentic action project
  • No accommodations suggested for struggling learners
  • No assessment tools are provided
  • Few direct links to related information

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource could be used to to address outcomes or supplement core materials used in technological education or design courses. Some activities could also be used in a science classroom studying electricity and renewable energy options.

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 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Electrical Principles and Technologies
        • Knowledge and Employability Science: Electrical Principles and Technologies (Science and Technology Emphasis)
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10-4 (Knowledge and Employability Science): Investigating Matter and Energy in Environmental Systems
        • Science 10: Energy Flow in Technological Systems
        • Science 14:Investigating Matter and Energy in the Environment
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 9: The biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere are interconnected, as matter cycles and energy flows through them.
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Senior 1 Science: Nature of Electricity
      • Technological Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Exploration of Sustainable Energy: Awareness of Sustainability
        • Exploration of Sustainable Energy: Cross Curricular
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Technological Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Introduction to Sustainable Energy: Cross Curriular
        • Introduction to Sustainable Energy: Promotion and Planning
        • Introduction to Sustainable Energy:Awareness of Sustainability
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Learning and Living Sustainably (STSE)
        • Science 10 Science for Sustainable Societies
        • Science 10 Science for Sustainable Societies: The Nature of Science
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Electricity
      • Technological Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Energy and Power Technology: Big Ideas
        • Energy and Power Technology: Design Activity
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 1206: Sustainability of Ecosystems
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 2200: Ecosytems
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Electrical Principles and Technologies
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10-4 (Knowledge and Employability Science): Investigating Matter and Energy in Environmental Systems
        • Science 10: Energy Flow in Technological Systems
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 9: Characteristics of Electricity
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 10: Spaceship Earth
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Sustainability of Ecosystems
      • Technological Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Exploring Technology 10: Engineering Technology
        • Exploring Technology 10: Green Technology
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Electrical Principles and Technologies
        • Knowledge and Employability Science: Electrical Principles and Technologies (Science and Technology Emphasis)
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10-4 (Knowledge and Employability Science): Investigating Matter and Energy in Environmental Systems
        • Science 10: Energy Flow in Technological Systems
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Natural Resources around the World: Use and Sustainability
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Form and Function
    • Grade 8
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Academic): Managing Canada's Resources and Industries
        • Issues in Canadian Geography (Applied): Managing Canada's Resources and Industries
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Academic):Physics: The Characteristics of Electricity
        • Science (Applied):Physics: Electrical Applications
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Technological Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Construction Technolgy (Open) Technology, the Environment, and Society
        • Green Industries (Open) The Environment and Society
        • Green Industries (Open) Skills
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Technological Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Intermediate Industrial Technology Education: Technological Problem Solving
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Technological Education
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Intermediate Industrial Technology Education: Technological Problem Solving
  • Quebec
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
    • Grade 8
    • 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
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 9: Physical Science: Characteristics of Electricity
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 9: The biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere are interconnected, as matter cycles and energy flows through them.

Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Sustainable Consumption
  • Economics (1)

    • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Energy (3)

    • Alternative Energy
    • Energy Generation
    • Energy Use
  • Waste Management (3)

    • Cradle-to-Cradle
    • Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Source Reduction

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

Students participate in a variety of activities to gather information on the sustainability of everyday products. They are encouraged to reflect on their own values, and make their own conclusions. Belief cards support a wide range of perspectives.

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 resource promotes dialogue and discussion within groups of students and encourages creative, open-ended solutions.

Respects Complexity:

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

Acting on Learning Poor/Not considered

The resource does not include an action experience.

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
Values Education:

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

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

Case studies build empathy for people in parts of the developing world who struggle with getting access to electricity.

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 the resource has no out-of-doors experience, students do examine the environmental impacts of everyday products and in the production of energy using non-renewable sources.

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 examine how their own product choices have global impacts socially, environmentally, and socially.

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 Satisfactory

Present day products are evaluated and analyzed, and students are asked to play a role in making recommendations for possible solutions to problems related to sustainability.

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 Very Good
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 technology education resource, but there opportunities for addressing outcomes in science, geography, social studies 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 Satisfactory
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

Both affective and cognitive domains are addressed. Appropriate grouping should help address issues of differences in intelligences. There are no accommodations suggested for struggling learners.

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 Satisfactory
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

No tools are provided for formative or summative assessment. Teachers must develop their own strategies.

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 Good
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

Students do get opportunities to choose some elements of the program.

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.