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: Saturday, January 14th, 2017
The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.
Teachers, administrators and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching.
Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017
What follows are several opportunities for science teachers to work with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) on various projects that have direct or indirect implications for the implementation of NGSS in California. Please consider applying to one or more of the following opportunities.
CSET Field Testing Opportunities
Field testing opportunities for future CSET Multiple Subjects and Science tests are available beginning Dec. 5, 2016. Participants will have the choice between a $50 Barnes and Noble eGift Card or a $75 test fee voucher that may be applied to future test registration fees. For more information, including how to register to participate, please visit: http://www.pearsonvue.com/espilot/cset.asp. Learn More…
Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017
Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.
If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. Learn More…
Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017
An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. Learn More…
Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017
by Jessica Sawko
January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.
California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing
The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.