Positive Energy: Investigating Alternative Energy Use in Middle Schools

Positive Energy: Investigating Alternative Energy Use in Middle Schools

Jamie Price (East Tennessee State University, USA), Maranda O. Abel (Vance Middle School, USA), Amanda Varney (Vance Middle School, USA) and David Wexler (Vance Middle School, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6364-8.ch013
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This chapter introduces a project-based learning lesson that integrates science, English language arts (ELA), and math through a study related to energy sources. Throughout the lesson, students are engaged in a real-world problem of determining the impact of a population on energy resources and discovering ways to build greener, more energy-efficient schools for students of the future. Within this chapter, the authors present a proposed project timeline that teachers can use for implementation within their own classrooms, including an entry event to engage students in the mission of the project. A connection between science, ELA, and math practices is addressed in order to provide students with an opportunity to understand the correlation between all three subject areas. Suggested teaching and learning tasks focused on the driving question of the project and related to all three subject areas are presented along with suggestions for a culminating product and assessment of student learning.
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How Do I Do It?

Teachers at Vance Middle School in Bristol, Tennessee used the context of a new middle school being built in the near future as a basis for the development of this project. We knew that encouraging the students to become difference makers in the development of this new school would engage them in wanting to leave their “footprint” on the school. For purposes of this paper, we define difference makers as students who integrate their learning and experiences in a lesson in order to make a change in the world around them. We designed the project to last over the course of 15 days (3 weeks). During this time, students were introduced to the driving question through engagement in an entry event. They gathered integrated, project-related knowledge throughout the entire project as they attended their ELA, science, and math classes. By the end of the project, the students created digital infographics and prepared speeches that they delivered to their city officials to encourage the use of alternative energy sources in the new middle school building.

Table 2 provides a project timeline for the fifteen-day period in which the project took place.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Project-Based Learning: A method of teaching that engages students in learning content through hands-on application and developing 21st century skills in order to answer a driving question.

Difference Maker: Students who integrate their learning and experiences in a lesson in order to make a change in the world around them.

Integrated Learning: A method of teaching that combines multiple subjects, typically science, math, and English/language arts, together into a single lesson.

Non-Renewable Energy Source: An energy source, such as oil and coal, that cannot be easily replaced by natural means.

Renewable Energy Source: An energy source that is naturally replenished, such as solar, wind, or geothermal energy.

Solar Energy: Energy achieved from radiant heat and light that is harnessed from the Sun.

Jigsaw: A teaching method that divides students into groups, assigns each person in the group to a particular task, and the group comes back together allowing each person to share what he or she learned while completing the task.

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