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How does energy affect wildlife?

Windwise Education Program, Kid Wind Project

This learning activity that asks students to consider the impacts of different types of electricity generation on wildlife. Students are asked some questions about their beliefs and knowledge on the topic, and then read a summary of a life cycle assessment of wildlife impacts for electricity generation via coal, nuclear power, hydropower, and wind power. Students are asked to rank the energy sources from least to most harmful impact on wildlife, and reflect on their rankings.

This learning activity takes one 45 min class period.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 1 Cross Cutting Concept, 3 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Science and Engineering Practice

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Humans affect climate
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Humans affect climate
Climate change has consequences
About Teaching Climate Literacy
Other materials addressing Climate change has consequences

Energy Literacy

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4.2 Human use of energy is subject to limits and constraints.
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4.4 Humans transport energy.
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4.5 Electricity generation.
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Various sources of energy are used to power human activities .
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5.4 Economic factors.
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5.6 Environmental factors.
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Energy decisions are influenced by several factors.

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

  • This is one of several learning activities developed by this organization exploring wind energy. Other resources can be found on their website: https://www.kidwind.org/
  • The activity may be a bit overambitious for one class period, as it has a lot of information to absorb and act on.
  • Given the open ended nature, there is no one answer key for final products/projects, so the instructor may need to be familiar with the topic or research it a bit more in depth.
  • The summaries of the material may oversimplify/understate impacts, so the instructor may want to do more research on the effects and impacts, and find examples.

About the Science

  • Students learn that different electricity generation sources have different effects on wildlife.
  • The idea of considering the entire life cycle of electricity generation is an important, real-world topic that is often too easy to gloss over when comparing energy sources, and this activity addresses it head on.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific Strengths:This resource is useful and informative and it seems appropriate for proposed age/grade level.
    - Add a caveat that some species will benefit from climate change (e.g. cold-blooded reptiles).
    - Recommend expanding to solar as more scientific studies are published that can be used as a reference.
    - Add statistics on wildlife deaths per MW/MWh.

About the Pedagogy

  • Literacy-based group activity (2-4 students/team) to explore the pros and cons of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources based on their environmental impacts on wildlife.
  • The activity allows students to explore source material that discusses the impacts of different energy sources on wildlife and the environment. Students are asked to determine which energy source has the fewest impacts.
  • The activity asks students in the beginning to state which types of energy generation affect wildlife the most, and later asks if their opinions have changed after the activity. This type of before-and-after reflection is useful for revealing assumptions or biases we may have but are not aware of, and which can be shifted through education.
  • The language is clear and the information is presented in a well-organized, concise way.
  • The objectives and instructions for teachers are clear and detailed.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • All resources needed for this activity are included in the document. Link to the developer website allows educators to explore further resources.
  • The additional resources link is not functional (https://www.learn.kidwind.org/windwise/) but these resources are not necessary for implementing the activity.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

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