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Stabilization Wedges Game
http://cmi.princeton.edu/wedges/game.php

Carbon Mitigation Initiative, Princeton University

This is a team-based activity that teaches students about the scale of the greenhouse gas problem and the technologies that already exist which can dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Students select carbon-cutting strategies to construct a carbon mitigation profile, filling in the wedges of a climate stabilization triangle.

Activity takes about three 45-minute class periods, possibly more with the closure and assessment.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Humans may be able to mitigate climate change or lessen its severity by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations through processes that move carbon out of the atmosphere or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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A combination of strategies is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The most immediate strategy is conservation of oil, gas, and coal, which we rely on as fuels for most of our transportation, heating, cooling, agriculture, and electricity. Short-term strategies involve switching from carbon-intensive to renewable energy sources, which also requires building new infrastructure for alternative energy sources. Long-term strategies involve innovative research and a fundamental change in the way humans use energy.
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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Actions taken by individuals, communities, states, and countries all influence climate. Practices and policies followed in homes, schools, businesses, and governments can affect climate. Climate-related decisions made by one generation can provide opportunities as well as limit the range of possibilities open to the next generation. Steps toward reducing the impact of climate change may influence the present generation by providing other benefits such as improved public health infrastructure and sustainable built environments.
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
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7.3 Environmental quality.
One way to manage energy resources is through conservation.
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6.2 Conserving energy.
Greenhouse gases affect energy flow through the Earth system.
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2.6 Greenhouse gases affect energy flow.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

4. Personal and Civic Responsibility:C) Recognizing efficacy
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C) Recognizing efficacy.
4. Personal and Civic Responsibility:D) Accepting personal responsibility
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D) Accepting personal responsibility.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.3 Humans and Their Societies:C) Political and economic systems
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C) Political and economic systems.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:A) Human/environment interactions
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A) Human/environment interactions.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:D) Technology
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D) Technology.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:A) Identifying and investigating issues
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A) Identifying and investigating issues.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action
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C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.2 Decision-Making and Citizenship Skills:D) Evaluating the results of actions
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D) Evaluating the results of actions.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.2 Decision-Making and Citizenship Skills:B) Evaluating the need for citizen action
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B) Evaluating the need for citizen action.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Energy from the sun (and the wind and water energy derived from it) is available indefinitely. Because the transfer of energy from these resources is weak and variable, systems are needed to collect and concentrate the energy.
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Some resources are not renewable or renew very slowly. Fuels already accumulated in the earth, for instance, will become more difficult to obtain as the most readily available resources run out. How long the resources will last, however, is difficult to predict. The ultimate limit may be the prohibitive cost of obtaining them.
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When selecting fuels, it is important to consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of each fuel.
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Decisions to slow the depletion of energy resources can be made at many levels, from personal to national, and they always involve trade-offs involving economic costs and social values.
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Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • A large amount of prior knowledge on both the part of the educator and the students is required; having some previous experience with this content is helpful in order to teach/facilitate the lesson. This activity could generate more questions than the background info prepares educators for.
  • Not all strategies have sufficient background to promote critical discussion; input from educator in these areas could be valuable.
  • This activity could be used by older students to inform younger students about CO2 emissions and solutions.

About the Science

  • Students will learn about the impact CO2 emissions have on global climate change.
  • Introduces the concept behind a stabilization triangle (carbon-cutting strategies that can keep the Earth's CO2 emissions profile "flat"). The strategies presented in this activity are i) efficiency and conservation ii) fossil fuel-based strategies iii) nuclear energy and iv) renewable energy and biostorage.
  • This activity from the Carbon Mitigation Initiative was a joint project between Princeton University, BP, and Ford.
  • Comment from expert scientist: The strengths of this activity are not scientific. It's almost exclusively a policy/technology exercise framed by an initial science lesson. It's good at what it does, but it doesn't teach climate science. Understanding available technological solutions and their potential contributions to addressing emissions challenges is an important part of climate literacy.

About the Pedagogy

  • A good culminating activity for a unit on renewable energy options and climate change. It addresses both the problems and the solutions.
  • Students will develop reasoning and negotiation skills in order to find a solution and defend it to a larger group; there is no "right" answer.
  • This activity is based completely in individual choice and so offers opportunities to a diverse group of learners.
  • Opportunities for adults outside the classroom to become included/engaged with student learning - administrators or community members could judge stabilization triangles.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Easy to use, clearly written instructions with all necessary handouts provided.

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