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Energy and the Poor - Black Carbon in Developing Nations

Anne Hall, Environmental Studies at Emory University, From the On The Cutting Edge Collection

An activity focusing on black carbon. This activity explores the impacts of the use of wood, dung, and charcoal for fuel, all which generate black carbon, in developing countries.

Activity takes three class periods. Computer with internet access required.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

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

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPe
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPg
Role of aerosols in climate system
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2e

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
7.3 Environmental quality.
Access to energy resources affects quality of life.
Other materials addressing:
7.5 Access to energy affects quality of life.
Some populations are more vulnerable to impacts of energy choices than others.
Other materials addressing:
7.6 Vulnerable populations.
Human use of energy is subject to limits and constraints.
Other materials addressing:
4.2 Human use of energy is subject to limits and constraints.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.
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:2.3 Humans and Their Societies:B) Culture
Other materials addressing:
B) Culture.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.3 Humans and Their Societies:C) Political and economic systems
Other materials addressing:
C) Political and economic systems.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.3 Humans and Their Societies:D) Global Connections
Other materials addressing:
D) Global Connections.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:C) Resources
Other materials addressing:
C) Resources.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:A) Identifying and investigating issues
Other materials addressing:
A) Identifying and investigating issues.

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

  • Activity on Albedo could supplement the activity to ensure a better understanding of the impacts of black carbon.
  • In-class discussion will generate several broad topics relevant to the use of black carbon generating fuels.
  • Using the jigsaw method, small groups will explore one broad topic related to black carbon, then multi-topic groups will synthesize the information gathered.

About the Science

  • Video clip does a good job of summarizing the basics for black carbon and its impacts.
  • Possible source for confusion: Black carbon isn't a greenhouse gas, but the soot particles warm the atmosphere by absorbing heat and reducing albedo when deposited on ice and snow.
  • Introduction of the term albedo and changes in albedo due to changes in surface colors are a key component in this discussion, which other CLEAN selected resources address: http://cleanet.org/clean/educational_resources/index.html?search_text=albedo&Search=search

About the Pedagogy

  • Well-designed activity with a good introduction to the topic and an effective pedagogic design.
  • Using the jigsaw approach addresses needs of students with different learning styles.
  • Many sources beyond this activity are given for further research.
  • Educator will need to develop their own assessment.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Carefully designed activity with numerous supporting materials

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

High School

Performance Expectations: 1

HS-ESS3-1: Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1


Cross Cutting Concepts: 4

Patterns, Cause and effect, Scale, Proportion and Quantity, Structure and Function

HS-C1.5:Empirical evidence is needed to identify patterns.

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

HS-C3.1:The significance of a phenomenon is dependent on the scale, proportion, and quantity at which it occurs.

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.

Science and Engineering Practices: 4

Asking Questions and Defining Problems, Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, Engaging in Argument from Evidence, Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

HS-P1.2:ask questions that arise from examining models or a theory, to clarify and/or seek additional information and relationships.

HS-P6.4:Apply scientific reasoning, theory, and/or models to link evidence to the claims to assess the extent to which the reasoning and data support the explanation or conclusion.

HS-P7.1:Compare and evaluate competing arguments or design solutions in light of currently accepted explanations, new evidence, limitations (e.g., trade-offs), constraints, and ethical issues

HS-P8.2:Compare, integrate and evaluate sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a scientific question or solve a problem.

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