Natural Resources/Energy Unit for High School
Posted: Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
by Heather Marshall
I feel that all students should be required to take an earth sciences course as a high school graduation requirement. They all need the basic understanding of the planet on which they live. It is even more important for all students to learn about energy. As we use our natural resources, we need to find new sources of energy, and ways to preserve and wisely use the resources that remain. The following energy unit covers both of these issues. My unit plan resources (PowerPoint presentations and labs) are available on my classroom website: https://sites.google.com/site/cpgeology/ under “Unit Folders”, and then “Energy and Climate”. The PowerPoint presentations serve as the outlines, not the full lectures. Viewing the presentations will give you an overview of the lectures and the hands-on lab experiments conducted as a part of the energy unit. This website is used as a tool in my classroom for students when they are absent or otherwise miss class.
The energy unit is taught after the basics of geology. That way the students have the foundational knowledge of rocks, minerals, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, weathering and erosion, and relative and absolute dating methods as well as map reading skills (topographic, geological, and well logs). This unit we will refer back to the carbon cycle specifically, therefore, students should have already covered biogeochemical cycles. This unit is designed be be taught on a traditional schedule, where the students meet daily for 181 days, for 55 minute classes. On average three of the five weekdays will be spent in lab experiments, and two of five on notes. The energy unit is expected to take two and a half weeks to complete.
The California state standards covered by the energy unit include:
Energy in the Earth System
4. Climate is the long-term average of a region’s weather and depends on many factors. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students know weather (in the short run) and climate (in the long run) involve the transfer of energy into and out of the atmosphere.
b. Students know the effects on climate of latitude, elevation, topography, and proximity to large bodies of water and cold or warm ocean currents.
c. Students know how Earth’s climate has changed over time, corresponding to changes in Earth’s geography, atmospheric composition, and other factors, such as solar radiation and plate movement.
d. Students know how computer models are used to predict the effects of the increase in greenhouse gases on climate for the planet as a whole and for specific regions.
7. Each element on Earth moves among reservoirs, which exist in the solid earth, in oceans, in the atmosphere, and within and among organisms as part of biogeochemical cycles. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students know the carbon cycle of photosynthesis and respiration and the nitrogen cycle.
b. Students know the global carbon cycle: the different physical and chemical forms of carbon in the atmosphere, oceans, biomass, fossil fuels, and the movement of carbon among these reservoirs.
c. Students know the movement of matter among reservoirs is driven by Earth’s internal and external sources of energy.
d. Students know the relative residence times and flow characteristics of carbon in and out of its different reservoirs.
I have restated these goals into the following for students to use:
Know about energy resources—renewable and non renewable—as they pertain to long term climate fluctuations. Differentiate between common alternative energies for cars and for home/industry use and identify the pros and cons of each. Differentiate between all forms of energy and how they affect climate fluctuations.
The Energy Unit (about 2.5 weeks)
- What Do You Think? PowerPoint presentation: students answer questions on the upcoming unit based on what they know before the unit, opinions, and preconceptions. This is used as a pre-assessment.
- Fossil Fuel Notes: these notes follow with descriptions of how oil, gas, and coal are formed, some uses for petroleum, and some statistics on remaining reservoirs.
- Fuel Energy Lab: this lab looks at the amount of energy available by fuel type by mass and volume. This lab helps students to understand the differences in fuel types.
- Modeling Oil Reserves Lab: this lab is a model for exploration geology. It models the processes petroleum geologists use to find oil reserves underground.
- Products Made from Petroleum Computer Research Lab: this lab asks students to do computer research on different products made from petroleum. The students then compare the production of some objects to their standard of living.
- Global Warming Notes: these notes describe in more detail what is happening in terms of global warming, the causative elements, and how those elements are increasing in our atmosphere. The notes also address the question: “What can we do about it?”
- Earth Warming Lab: this lab looks at the environmental and economic effects of the increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and what we can do about it.
- Alternative Energy Notes: these notes look at the currently available alternative energy resources that power our homes and businesses. They address some of the pros and cons of using these energies instead of fossil fuels.
- Alternative Fuel Notes: these notes look at the currently available alternative fuel resources that power our automobiles. They address the pros and cons of using these energies instead of fossil fuels.
- Assessment: a test is given at the end of the energy portion of the unit. NOTE: The test requires updating and revision. (I will also be adding updates and revisions to the PowerPoint lectures as well, as we get closer to teaching the unit. I try to add current issues into the notes.)
After the energy work, we go into the climate portion where we discuss climates of the world, climate factors (things that affect local climate), and then global climate change issues. This portion is currently under revision and expansion, a full description will be available in a future issue of California Classroom Science.
Heather Marshall teaches CP geology at Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill and is CSTA’s high school director.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Joseph Calmer
Probably like you, NGSS has been at the forefront of many department meetings, lunch conversations, and solitary lesson planning sessions. Despite reading the original NRC Framework, the Ca Draft Frameworks, and many CSTA writings, I am still left with the question: “what does it actually mean for my classroom?”
I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. Learn More…