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Selecting Sites for Renewable Energy Projects

Glenn A. Richard, Mineral Physics Institute - Stony Brook University, On the Cutting Edge Collection, Science Education Resource Center (SERC)

In this activity, students use Google Earth to investigate a variety of renewable energy sources and select sites within the United States that would be appropriate for projects based on those sources.

Activity takes about two 40-min class sessions.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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Humans can take action
About Teaching Climate Literacy
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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.
Human use of energy is subject to limits and constraints.
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4.2 Human use of energy is subject to limits and constraints.
Different sources of energy and the different ways energy can be transformed, transported and stored each have different benefits and drawbacks.
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4.7 Different sources of energy have different benefits and drawbacks.
Amount of energy used can be calculated and monitored.
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6.8 Calculating and monitoring energy use.

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:C) Resources
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C) Resources.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:D) Technology
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D) Technology.

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

  • The activity needs to be conducted where all students can work at computer stations individually or in pairs. The laboratory also needs to be equipped with an instructor station connected to a projector so that the students can observe what the instructor is doing during the activity.
  • The instructor should have enough prior knowledge of Google Earth to be able to troubleshoot common problems related to errors that students may make.
  • The students should know how to use the 'Fly To' tab in the Search pane, how to zoom in and out, and how to pan the view. They also need to know how to create folders, overlays, and placemarks in Google Earth.
  • During the activity, it is important to have available people who can assist students who have problems while using the computer stations. Assistants need to have good prior knowledge about the subject matter and about the techniques of using Google Earth.
  • The students may learn more effectively if the instructor conducts periodic class discussions about the questions during the activity, even though it may make the assessment process less rigorous if the handouts are to be returned to the instructor for grading.

About the Science

  • The sources investigated include solar energy, bio-energy, hydroelectricity, tidal power, wind energy, wave energy, geothermal, osmotic, and ocean and lake thermal energy.

About the Pedagogy

  • Very thorough teachers' guide provided.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The students must have access to accounts that enable them to visit off-campus web sites.
  • The operating system should be configured to recognize kmz files, so that the browser offers to open them in Google Earth.

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