Archive for the 'Suggested Reading' Category

Inside Energy iPad app by Shell

This free iPad app from Shell “explores the role innovation plays in producing energy to power and sustain our lives.”  Stories with interactive features are organized into four sections: Innovative Thinking, Meeting Demand, Energy Efficiency and People and Planet.  A two minute video about this app can be viewed here.

While this app can be useful to teachers and students, teachers will want to be sure to remind students to be mindful of who is presenting this information and teach them how to identify potential bias when reviewing scientific information. It would be valuable to have students investigate a particular story presented in the app from different perspectives by gathering related news articles, press releases, etc.

I would love to hear from those of you who have used this app with students – what stories have you found useful in your teaching? How do you prepare your students to critically evaluate what they read and look for evidence of bias?

A wind energy inspired project

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 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 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!

eBook – Our choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis

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!

The WATT? An Energy 101 Primer

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!

National Geographic Story on Fracking for Shale Oil

In March 2013, National Geographic devoted its cover story to the topic of fracking for shale oil. The New Oil Landscape lays out the pros and cons of fracking in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale play.  The editor writes, “on one side of the equation are abundant fossil fuels, less dependence on foreign sources, and the kind of economic prosperity that comes with jobs. On the other side is the possibility of contaminated groundwater, environmental degradation, and what [the author] calls a loss of prairie values—“silence, solitude, serenity.”

Accompanying the story is a photo gallery, related stories and resources like this two-minute  video animation that describes the process of hydraulic fracturing by zooming in on a well that is extracting shale oil from the Bakken Shale play in North Dakota.

On a related note, check out this image of the Earth at night that reveals “nighttime evidence of an oil boom” in this region of North Dakota.

The Department of Energy’s Quadrennial Technology Review Report

In fall of 2011, the Department of Energy released its Quadrennial Technology Review which had the goal of establishing “a framework for thinking clearly about a necessary transformation of the Nation’s energy system.” The report outlines six strategies for addressing the nation’s energy security, economic competitiveness and environmental impacts of energy: increase vehicle efficiency, electrify the vehicle fleet, deploy alternative hydrocarbon fuels, increase building and industrial efficiency, modernize the grid, and deploy clean electricity. A 3- minute video summarizing the six strategies outlined in the QTR is available.   The report provides and up-to-date overview of “today’s energy landscape” and energy challenges and describes and prioritizes the technology adoption and innovation that will support each strategy.

A Timely Reading on Nuclear Energy

Earlier this year I learned about a book published in 2007 by Gwyneth Cravens titled, The Power to Save the World: The Truth about Nuclear Energy.    Interestingly, I was already reading this book and discussing it with friends in the days leading up to the March 11th Japan earthquake.  The knowledge I gained reading this book enabled me to react to this disaster from a more informed perspective.  In this book, Ms. Cravens describes her journey within the US as she traces the path of uranium from its origins to its processing into fuel pellets, and ultimately to its finale as nuclear waste.  Dr. Richard (Rip) Anderson, an expert in nuclear risk assessment,  leads her through this enlightening journey.

On March 15th, days after the Japan Nuclear Disaster, Ms. Cravens appeared on NPR’s Talk of the Nation as a panelist for a program titled Assessing The Future Of Nuclear Power In The U.S.

Assessing The Future Of Nuclear Power In The U.S.

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