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Car of the Future

Jeff Lockwood, NOVA Teachers

In this activity, student teams research and develop a proposal to decrease the carbon footprint of their city's/town's public transportation system and then prepare a report that explains why their transportation plan is the best for their community.

Activity takes about four class periods. Computer access is necessary.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Cross Cutting Concept, 5 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 1 Performance Expectation, 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 6 Science and Engineering Practices

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPg

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
7.3 Environmental quality.
Different sources of energy and the different ways energy can be transformed, transported and stored each have different benefits and drawbacks.
Other materials addressing:
4.7 Different sources of energy have different benefits and drawbacks.
Energy infrastructure has inertia.
Other materials addressing:
5.2 Energy infrastructure has inertia.
One way to manage energy resources is through conservation.
Other materials addressing:
6.2 Conserving energy.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:C) Resources
Other materials addressing:
C) Resources.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:D) Technology
Other materials addressing:
D) Technology.
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
Other materials addressing:
C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action.

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

  • Educators will need to preview activity to determine what prerequisite knowledge is required before the start of this project.
  • Have the groups with "the best" proposals present them to school administrators or community members to raise awareness.
  • Educators could use the jigsaw cooperative group method to organize students for this activity - divide students into 4 alternative technology groups and after students have become experts on their one area, reorganize groups to write proposals so that each group has one member from the original alternative energy groups.

About the Science

  • Activity addresses concerns about air pollution, CO2 emissions, and the U.S.'s dependence on imported oil and introduces students to the following areas: hydrogen fuel, ethanol fuel, vehicle engineering, and hybrid and electric cars.
  • Internet resources are provided as background readings for each area.
  • Excellent worksheets and resources.
  • Comments from expert scientist: This resource is relevant to current issues (CO2 emissions reduction, alternative fuels, renewable technologies, vehicles) and it can be expanded upon, and will help students think about current and future issues in US.

About the Pedagogy

  • Student driven project with collaborative groups working together to create a final presentation.
  • Good visual materials are provided.
  • Interesting NOVA program clips (8-10 mins each) are provided for each alternative technology.
  • Group work, research, discussions and presentations will engage learners of different learning types.
  • Sample rubric and assessment questions provided.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Easy to follow, step-by-step directions for the educator are provided.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

Middle School

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Energy and Matter

MS-C5.3:Energy may take different forms (e.g. energy in fields, thermal energy, energy of motion).

Science and Engineering Practices: 5

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information, Asking Questions and Defining Problems

MS-P3.5:Collect data about the performance of a proposed object, tool, process or system under a range of conditions.

MS-P6.6:Apply scientific ideas or principles to design, construct, and/or test a design of an object, tool, process or system.

MS-P7.3:Construct, use, and/or present an oral and written argument supported by empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support or refute an explanation or a model for a phenomenon or a solution to a problem.

MS-P8.5:Communicate scientific and/or technical information (e.g. about a proposed object, tool, process, system) in writing and/or through oral presentations.

MS-P1.8:Define a design problem that can be solved through the development of an object, tool, process or system and includes multiple criteria and constraints, including scientific knowledge that may limit possible solutions.

High School

Performance Expectations: 1

HS-ESS3-2: Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

HS-ESS3.A2:All forms of energy production and other resource extraction have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical costs and risks as well as benefits. New technologies and social regulations can change the balance of these factors.

HS-ESS3.C2:Scientists and engineers can make major contributions by developing technologies that produce less pollution and waste and that preclude ecosystem degradation.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 3

Cause and effect, Systems and System Models, Energy and Matter

HS-C2.3:Systems can be designed to cause a desired effect.

HS-C4.1:Systems can be designed to do specific tasks.

HS-C5.3:Energy cannot be created or destroyed—only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems.

Science and Engineering Practices: 6

Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P1.8:Define a design problem that involves the development of a process or system with interacting components and criteria and constraints that may include social, technical, and/or environmental considerations. 

HS-P3.3:Plan and conduct an investigation or test a design solution in a safe and ethical manner including considerations of environmental, social, and personal impacts.

HS-P4.6: Analyze data to identify design features or characteristics of the components of a proposed process or system to optimize it relative to criteria for success.

HS-P6.5:Design, evaluate, and/or refine a solution to a complex real-world problem, based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations.

HS-P7.6:Evaluate competing design solutions to a real-world problem based on scientific ideas and principles, empirical evidence, and/or logical arguments regarding relevant factors (e.g. economic, societal, environmental, ethical considerations).

HS-P8.5:Communicate scientific and/or technical information or ideas (e.g. about phenomena and/or the process of development and the design and performance of a proposed process or system) in multiple formats (i.e., orally, graphically, textually, mathematically).

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