Jump to this Activity »
Evaluating woody biomass options for North Carolina's electricity future
http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/7362?ref=search

Dana Haine, University of North Carolina, School of Education

In this activity, students learn about the pros and cons of co-firing woody biomass fuels with coal to produce electricity.

Activity takes about three to four 45-minute class periods.

Discuss this Resource»
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
Other materials addressing GPd
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
Other materials addressing GPe
ans can take actions to reduce climate change and its impacts.
About Teaching Principle H
Other materials addressing Hum

Energy Literacy

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 decisions are influenced by economic factors.
Other materials addressing:
5.4 Economic factors.
Energy decisions are influenced by political factors.
Other materials addressing:
5.5 Political factors.
Energy decisions are influenced by environmental factors.
Other materials addressing:
5.6 Environmental factors.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:E) Organizing information
Other materials addressing:
E) Organizing information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
Other materials addressing:
C) Energy.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:E) Environmental Issues
Other materials addressing:
E) Environmental 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
Other materials addressing:
C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Different ways of obtaining, transforming, and distributing energy have different environmental consequences.
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

  • Good tips are included in the lesson.
  • Worksheets with a wealth of resources are provided.

About the Science

  • As coal-burning power plants seek ways to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, some are evaluating co-firing with woody biomass for the generation of steam heat and/or electricity.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • This is a problem-based authentic assessment.
  • Students assume the role of various stakeholders and participate in a discussion with classmates who represent officials from a local power plant that is seeking to substitute twenty percent of its coal with woody biomass.
  • Students evaluate available woody biomass options (forest residue, mill residue, urban wood) and come to a group consensus about which option, if any, is best from economic, environmental, and public health perspectives.
  • Very engaging and well-designed format.
  • Activity focused on the standards set by the North Carolina Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard REPS but can be easily adapted to other locations.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Easy-to-use lesson plan.

Jump to this Activity »



Have you used these materials with your students? Do you have insights to share with other educators about their use? Please share with the community by adding a comment below.

Please use this space only for discussion about teaching with these particular materials.
For more general discussion about teaching climate literacy please use our general discussion boards.
To report a problem or direct a comment to the CLEAN project team please use our feedback form (or the feedback link at the bottom of every page).
Off-topic posts will be deleted.

Join the Discussion


Log in to reply