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From Pond Scum to Power
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/algae-biodiesel.html

Melissa Salpietra, NOVA scienceNOW

This animated slideshow introduces biodiesel as a fuel alternative. With concern about the use of petroleum-based fuels at an all-time high, biodiesel is experiencing a popularity surge. And algae—otherwise known to some as pond scum— are grabbing headlines as the next potential biodiesel superstar. But how and why do algae make oil? And why do they make so much of it? In this audio slide show, U.C. Berkeley's Kris Niyogi describes the process and its potential.

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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.
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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.
Fossil and bio fuels are organic matter that contain energy captured from sunlight.
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4.3 Fossil and bio fuels contain energy captured from sunlight.
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Various sources of energy are used to power human activities .
The Sun is the major source of energy for organisms and the ecosystems of which they are a part.
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3.1 The Sun is major source of energy for organisms and ecosystems.
Food is a biofuel used by organisms to acquire energy for internal living processes.
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3.2 Food is a biofuel.
Biological processes depend on energy flow through the Earth system.
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Biological processes depend on energy flow.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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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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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

  • Use along with your photosynthesis unit to create real-world relevance and increase student interest, then go to an activity on biodiesel.
  • There is a lot of jargon in the audio, so teachers may need to address this important new vocabulary.
  • Addresses what algae are and how they produce oil that can be used as a biofuel. Compares algae to land plants as a source for biodiesel.
  • This resource is partially a video and partially an interactive. It does a great job connecting the dots between photosynthesis and bio-fuels.
  • Could be used to introduce a unit on photosynthesis.

About the Science

  • Presents and animates each step in the process of turning algae into biofuel.
  • Comments from expert scientist: This activity is a great introduction to algal biofuels for the middle to high school levels. Dr. Niyogi who runs a research lab investigating very physiological effects of genetic algal mutations has been on PBS Nova describing a number of topics. This is appropriate for a biology course, without diving into the biochemistry details of photosynthesis, sugars to lipids production, and transesterification of the lipids to biodiesel. This resource would not be appropriate from a biochemistry point of view.

About the Pedagogy

  • Engaging animations divided into bite-size mini-videos break down the process of understanding in an effective way. Allows time between segments for students to ask or answer questions and reflect on what they've just seen before clicking on to the next segment.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Uses a variety of media images, animations, and video to educate how algae can be used to generate biodiesel.
  • Transcript is available, and user can go back and forth between slides.

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