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Wind Energy: Exploring Wind Farms with Google Earth

Lehigh University

In this activity, students use Google Earth to investigate ideal features of wind farms.

Activity takes about 1-2 class periods. Google Earth software (free download) is required.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 4 Cross Cutting Concepts, 8 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 1 Performance Expectation, 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 7 Cross Cutting Concepts, 7 Science and Engineering Practices

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

  • Depending educator's level of comfort with integrating technology into the curriculum, this introductory level activity using Google Earth would be a good one. This lesson, combined with others, could supplement existing content or with the other lessons in this curricula http://www.ei.lehigh.edu/eli/energy/index.html be combined for a more robust content coverage.
  • Less tech-savvy students may need assistance following the steps to utilize the Google Earth files.

About the Science

  • From a sample of seven large wind farms scattered over the globe, students measure the size of each farm and compile data on average wind speed, topography, and land cover for each to compare the potential wind resource capacity of each farm.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Good teaching material; well presented and accessible.

About the Pedagogy

  • Teaching strategy includes support for working with students and Google Earth program.
  • Curiosity about Google Earth will be a motivating factor for students in this lesson.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Support for how to use Google Earth is provided with screen shots and a video, although the accent of the video narrator may make the narration difficult to understand.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

Middle School

Cross Cutting Concepts: 4

Energy and Matter, Structure and Function, Patterns, Cause and effect

MS-C1.4:Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.

MS-C2.3:Phenomena may have more than one cause, and some cause and effect relationships in systems can only be described using probability.

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

MS-C6.1:Complex and microscopic structures and systems can be visualized, modeled, and used to describe how their function depends on the shapes, composition, and relationships among its parts; therefore, complex natural and designed structures/systems can be analyzed to determine how they function.

Science and Engineering Practices: 8

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Asking Questions and Defining Problems

MS-P1.4:Ask questions to clarify and/or refine a model, an explanation, or an engineering problem.

MS-P3.2:Conduct an investigation and/or evaluate and/or revise the experimental design to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence that meet the goals of the investigation

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

MS-P4.2:Use graphical displays (e.g., maps, charts, graphs, and/or tables) of large data sets to identify temporal and spatial relationships.

MS-P4.8:Analyze data to define an optimal operational range for a proposed object, tool, process or system that best meets criteria for success.

MS-P5.1: Use digital tools (e.g., computers) to analyze very large data sets for patterns and trends.

MS-P6.4:Apply scientific ideas, principles, and/or evidence to construct, revise and/or use an explanation for real- world phenomena, examples, or events.

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

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: 3

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.

HS-PS3.A2:At the macroscopic scale, energy manifests itself in multiple ways, such as in motion, sound, light, and thermal energy.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 7

Patterns, Cause and effect, Energy and Matter, Structure and Function, Stability and Change

HS-C1.3:Patterns of performance of designed systems can be analyzed and interpreted to reengineer and improve the system.

HS-C2.1:Empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and make claims about specific causes and effects.

HS-C2.2:Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system.

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

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.

HS-C6.1:Investigating or designing new systems or structures requires a detailed examination of the properties of different materials, the structures of different components, and connections of components to reveal its function and/or solve a problem.

HS-C7.4:Systems can be designed for greater or lesser stability.

Science and Engineering Practices: 7

Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

HS-P1.4:ask questions to clarify and refine a model, an explanation, or an engineering problem

HS-P3.1:Plan an investigation or test a design individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence as part of building and revising models, supporting explanations for phenomena, or testing solutions to problems. Consider possible confounding variables or effects and evaluate the investigation’s design to ensure variables are controlled.

HS-P4.1:Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution.

HS-P4.2:Apply concepts of statistics and probability (including determining function fits to data, slope, intercept, and correlation coefficient for linear fits) to scientific and engineering questions and problems, using digital tools when feasible.

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-P6.3:Apply scientific ideas, principles, and/or evidence to provide an explanation of phenomena and solve design problems, taking into account possible unanticipated effects.

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.

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