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Air: Fuel for Thought
http://www.pbs.org/pov/borders/2004/educators/edu_air1.html

PBS

This lesson plan engages students in a real-life exploration of climate change as it is affected by greenhouse emissions from vehicles. The aim of this activity is for students to realize the impact of vehicle use in their family and to give students the opportunity to brainstorm viable alternatives to this use.

Activity takes two 45-minute lesson periods one week apart

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

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

Humans transfer and transform energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors.
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4.1 Humans transfer and transform energy.
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Various sources of energy are used to power human activities .
One way to manage energy resources is through conservation.
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6.2 Conserving energy.
Behavior and design affect the amount of energy used by human society.
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6.6 Behavior and design.
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Human use of energy.
Greenhouse gases affect energy flow through the Earth system.
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2.6 Greenhouse gases affect energy flow.
Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow through the Earth system.
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Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow .

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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C) Collecting information.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:E) Organizing information
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E) Organizing information.
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:E) Environmental Issues
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E) Environmental Issues.
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:B) Sorting out the consequences of issues
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B) Sorting out the consequences of issues.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

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.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

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

  • Give students a data table to use to collect their data.
  • Provide students with written directions for the calculations.

About the Science

  • Students gather data about their family's car and calculate the total emissions per year. The class then discusses ways to reduce emissions.
  • Emissions data come from http://www.fueleconomy.gov/
  • Comments from expert scientist: This is a nice activity to connect personal choices to increasing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere. It is a great example of calculating quantities from varying rates and conversion factors, such as tons/year, pounds/ton, etc.

About the Pedagogy

  • The background content portion of activity is lecture-delivered.
  • Students research emissions and perform calculations for their family's vehicles.
  • This lesson presents a good opportunity for students to discuss their own use of vehicles and the impact of the choices they and others make on the environment. Focusing on cars and driving behaviors may prove to be motivational at the high school level.
  • It will be important for the teacher to implement meaningful, connected activities in the week between data collection.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Low tech; easy to use.

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