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Great Energy Debate
http://www.need.org//Files/curriculum/guides/GreatEnergyDebate.pdf

National Energy Education Development (NEED)

This is a debate-style learning activity in which student teams learn about energy sources and are then assigned to represent the different energy sources. Working cooperatively, students develop arguments on the pros and cons of their source over the others.

Activity takes two to three 45-minute class periods.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Performance Expectations, 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 4 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 2 Performance Expectations, 4 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Cross Cutting Concept, 5 Science and Engineering Practices

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
7.3 Environmental quality.
Humans transfer and transform energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors.
Other materials addressing:
4.1 Humans transfer and transform energy.
Different sources of energy and the different ways energy can be transformed, transported and stored each have different benefits and drawbacks.
Other materials addressing:
4.7 Different sources of energy have different benefits and drawbacks.
Energy decisions are influenced by economic factors.
Other materials addressing:
5.4 Economic factors.
Energy decisions are influenced by social factors.
Other materials addressing:
5.7 Social Factors.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
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:2.4 Environment and Society:C) Resources
Other materials addressing:
C) Resources.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:D) Technology
Other materials addressing:
D) Technology.
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.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:B) Sorting out the consequences of issues
Other materials addressing:
B) Sorting out the consequences of issues.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action
Other materials addressing:
C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.2 Decision-Making and Citizenship Skills:A) Forming and evaluating personal views
Other materials addressing:
A) Forming and evaluating personal views.

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

  • All of the items on the worksheets for each energy source are true facts - the debate is to determine if it's an advantage, disadvantage, or neither ("just a fact").
  • Ask older students to do their own research and include what information they find in the debate, rather than using the worksheets provided.
  • Have students respond individually to the four questions in Step 5 on a worksheet before leading a class discussion - this will provide the opportunity to individually assess each student.

About the Science

  • Ten major sources of energy in the United States are explored.
  • Students learn that some energy sources are nonrenewable; others are renewable; some affect the environment more than others; some provide a lot of the energy used in the U.S. while others, only a small amount; some provide energy at a low cost, while others do not.
  • Students learn that energy is used for transportation, heating, manufacturing, and making electricity.
  • Data is gathered from the Energy Information Agency http://www.eia.doe.gov. Educators may want to revisit this site before doing the activity to check if data needs updating.
  • Students learn that there are advantages and disadvantages for all energy resources.
  • No sources are provided for the data/facts used in the worksheets, so caution should be used when looking at specific quantitative facts. Potentially, students can find sources for data or research to come up with their own fact worksheets (with sources noted).
  • Comments from expert scientist: Provides a clearly written and technically accurate list of the pros and cons of 10 major energy sources.

About the Pedagogy

  • This is a complete lesson that is likely to be highly engaging for students; requires team-work and critical thinking.
  • Students are making the determination whether the given information is an advantage, a disadvantage, or a fact.
  • Easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions are provided for teacher.
  • It would be useful to create an "answer key" for the judges as to which items are advantages, disadvantages, or solely facts.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Although there is a a complex structure to the debate process, the directions are easy to follow.
  • All materials except yes/no cards are available for printing.
  • To run the game, the activity requires 3 judges - it would be best if theses are other adults in the building or parents.
  • An alternate plan is provided within the lesson to use the materials in a "non-game" setting.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

Middle School

Performance Expectations: 2

MS-ETS1-1: Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.

MS-ESS3-4: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

MS-ESS3.C2:Typically as human populations and per-capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do the negative impacts on Earth unless the activities and technologies involved are engineered otherwise.

MS-ETS1.C1:Although one design may not perform the best across all tests, identifying the characteristics of the design that performed the best in each test can provide useful information for the redesign process—that is, some of those characteristics may be incorporated into the new design.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 3

Energy and Matter, Patterns

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

MS-C5.4:The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system.

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

Science and Engineering Practices: 4

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

MS-P6.8:Optimize performance of a design by prioritizing criteria, making tradeoffs, testing, revising, and re- testing.

MS-P7.3:Construct, use, and/or present an oral and written argument supported by empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support or refute an explanation or a model for a phenomenon or a solution to a problem.

MS-P8.4:Evaluate data, hypotheses, and/or conclusions in scientific and technical texts in light of competing information or accounts.

MS-P1.5:Ask questions that require sufficient and appropriate empirical evidence to answer.

High School

Performance Expectations: 2

HS-ESS3-2: Evaluate competing design solutions for developing, managing, and utilizing energy and mineral resources based on cost-benefit ratios.

HS-ETS1-3: Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 4

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-ETS1.A2:Humanity faces major global challenges today, such as the need for supplies of clean water and food or for energy sources that minimize pollution, which can be addressed through engineering. These global challenges also may have manifestations in local communities

HS-ETS1.B1:When evaluating solutions, it is important to take into account a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, and to consider social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Energy and Matter

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.

Science and Engineering Practices: 5

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

HS-P1.7:Ask and/or evaluate questions that challenge the premise(s) of an argument, the interpretation of a data set, or the suitability of a design.

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-P6.5: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.

HS-P7.4:Construct, use, and/or present an oral and written argument or counter-arguments based on data and evidence.

HS-P8.4: Evaluate the validity and reliability of and/or synthesize multiple claims, methods, and/or designs that appear in scientific and technical texts or media reports, verifying the data when possible.


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