Emma Refvem is a science teacher at Riverside High School in Durham, NC. She has participated in several of my energy workshops so I was thrilled to read about a wind energy-related project she proposed on DonorsChoose.org on my Facebook page. Her $671 project was fully funded within 5 days!
Emma’s project is titled Wind, Environmental Justice, and Literacy in ESL Science and is targeted to her ESL Sheltered Earth Science class. According to Emma, her students “come from many different countries, and are eager to learn! However, the language barrier can get discouraging. Hands-on activities in which they can use creativity to bridge the gap have so far proven to be the most effective for these active children.”
Emma proposed that her students read “The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind“, a book about a young man from Malawi who learned about and then constructed a windmill made of scrap materials for his village. Her students will then construct wind turbines from everyday materials such as cereal boxes, index cards, and paper clips. And then they will share their wind turbine designs via Skype with with students from Durham’s sister city of Arusha in Tanzania.
I asked Emma to reflect on her DonorsChoose.org experience: “Using DonorsChoose is a great way to invite parents and community members who want to be a part of your classroom to participate in developing the learning atmosphere. Parents of former students, as well as friends from my own hometown were more than happy to help fund the project. I hadn’t even reached out to our own PTA because it got funded so quickly, but they would have been another invaluable resource. It is a great way to get some cool resources to try out labs without having to apply for a more official grant. The only thing you have to prove is that the students used the resources, by making thank-you cards and taking pictures! It couldn’t be easier!”
I am sharing Emma’s story here in hopes of inspiring other teachers to propose hands-on projects at DonorsChoose.org!
Published November 13, 2013
iPad apps , Wind Energy
iWindTurbine is available from iTunes for $0.99 and enables users to build their own horizontal axis wind turbine and learn about the variables that influence power output. Students can manipulate any/all of the following variables for their turbine: rotor diameter, air density, wind speed, aerodynamic efficiency (power coefficient) and electro-mechanical efficiency and then iWindTurbine calculates the power output. In addition, by entering average annual electricity consumption of a house, students will find out how many houses can be powered with their design!
Don’t have the app? I also came across this online Wind Turbine Power Estimator which was created by the developer of iWindTurbine.
If you use either of these tools in your wind energy instruction, I’d love to hear from you.
Published November 4, 2013
Biofuels , Energy - General , Energy and the Environment , Geothermal , iPad apps , Nuclear Energy , Renewable Energy , Solar Energy , Suggested Reading , Video Resources , Wind Energy
Our choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis is one eBook that comes highly recommended by a few teachers I know and it was also picked as a Best App or website for Teaching & Learning 2013 by the American Association of School Librarians. This interactive eBook includes photography, interactive graphics, animations, and more than an hour of documentary footage. In 2011 it won the Apple Design Award for its “groundbreaking interface.” This eBook includes 18 chapters, including chapters on solar and wind energy, geothermal, biofuels, the smart grid, carbon capture and sequestration and nuclear energy! You can purchase this app from iTunes for $4.99.
If you use this resource with your students, I’d love to hear from you!
Focus the Nation is the country’s leading clean energy youth empowerment organization and earlier this year announced the arrival of an interactive ebook titled The WATT? An Energy 101 Primer. Focus the Nation originally developed this resource to increase the energy literacy of college students on more than 30 campuses so this resource should resonate with your students. According to the website, this resource “provides a comprehensive overview of energy in the U.S. Consider it your starting point to becoming a more active, energy-literate citizen able to take on BIG challenges.”
Available on multiple platforms (ipad/iphone, ibook, kindle) for $4.99, it provides a comprehensive overview of energy in the United States.
Please share how you have used this resource with your students!
There are over twenty simulations related to electricity, magnets and circuits available from the PhET™ project at the University of Colorado. There is a teacher’s guide for each simulation as well as numerous teaching ideas submitted by the PhEt community. I’d love to hear from some of you about which simulations you find useful for teaching about concepts related to electricity!
This activity (pdf) for middle and high school students from the NEED Project asks students to assume the role of television news correspondents and report on seven aspects of electric power generation including:
- the history of electricity
- generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity
- demand-side management
- base-load and peak-load electrical generation
- energy loss
- independent power plants and co-generating plants
- the future of electrical generation
The following sections from NEED’s Energy Infobooks will also be useful:
Electricity: Middle school and High School
Measuring Electricity: Middle school and High School
There are numerous online resources for finding short, energy-related videos appropriate for classroom use:
1) energyNOW! episodes
This was a half-hour video news magazine that aired weekly on Bloomberg cable from 2010 to 2012. All of the past episodes are available.
2) Energy 101 videos
These short videos from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) explain renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
3) Energy Videos from Switch
The website for this recent documentary film contains approximately 300 short videos, organized by topic with many featuring interviews with experts.
4) Videos featured in the CLEAN Collection
This collection of “scientifically and pedagogically reviewed digital resources for teaching about climate science, climate change, and energy awareness” includes video resources.