Results from Working Groups at the May 2009 Teaching Energy Workshop

Below are the outcomes of the working groups at the 2009 Teaching Energy workshop. These are ideas and works-in-progress for developing new materials for teaching about energy in geoscience courses. For more outcomes from this workshop, see the workshop program which has links to presentations and discussions, and a list of ideas for teaching energy.

Ideas to integrate energy topics into existing courses

Model Inquiry Laboratory Activities for Teaching about Thermodynamics of Energy Sources and Resources
This is an in-progress compilation of simple, inexpensive, modular, inquiry-based laboratory experiments or demonstrations, from online or printed sources. These can potentially be used in a variety of settings and lessons for learning about some basic thermodynamic and other physical principles of energy sources and energy resources.

Integrating Energy into Intro Courses
We need to fit energy ideas into a fairly standard introductory geology course. The main idea is to hit on energy concepts via five activities during the semester. We also want to involve students as stake holders while modeling excellent teaching methods for potential pre-service teachers.

Energy Field Trips
So you're going on a field trip to an energy facility. What's the point? What is the value added to the students' learning experience by visiting this facility? How do you justify the time, energy and expense consumed to host this field trip? This outline provides some suggestions about how to design, implement and assess a field learning experience at an energy facility.

Ideas for New Activities

Ideas for biofuel activities
Outlines for several activities along with some potentially useful references.

Impact of using crops for biofuels on global food prices, carbon footprints and land degradation
This is an idea for a data mining activity to understand the overall impact of using crops for biofuels on global food prices.

From Grid to Home
This is an idea for a one-period classroom activity designed to have students analyze energy use, cost, and source patterns from household to regional scales and relate these patterns to CO2 emissions.

Energy Density Land Use in South Dakota (not live yet)
This activity asks students to calculate what type of energy would yield the maximum energy density for a given area of South Dakota (wind, hydropower, biofuels, solar)

Ideas for New Courses

World Energy Systems
This is an idea for an interdisciplinary course examining energy systems, sustainability via multiple learning methods, including lecture, discussions, computer-based geospatial analysis, case studies, and field trips. Students will examine energy issues from a historical perspective on global, regional, and local scales. A capstone project integrates different disciplinary perspectives for a specific country.

Energy and Your State
This is an idea for a course that provides a framework to examine the historical and contemporary uses of traditional and alternative energy sources in your state. The focus provides a more geologic context on energy resources, in addition to state-specific resource inventories and potential.