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Sustainability Education for High Schools: Yr 10-12

Subject & Teacher Supplements

Introduction
Message from the authors

In our experience , teachers are looking for rigorous resources that they can learn from and also teach with. Many have shared with us their frustration over the lack of technical and applied resources that go beyond introductory/ broad-brush discussions. Our commitment is to inspire teachers and students with possibility today, sharing content that we are developing for senior technical colleagues, business leaders and policy makers. Over the last several years, this multi-staged initiative of The Natural Edge Project has focused on developing curriculum in the solutions space, highlighting opportunities for engineers and built environment professionals to make a difference.

We began with four lessons for junior high school around energy, waste and water, then added physics and chemistry modules after teachers shared how little senior materials are available for integrating sustainability into the curriculum. After all, how can society expect our future leaders to be creative and innovative in addressing 21st Century challenges, if we do not equip them with knowledge and skills in topics such as making and storing electricity, and in environmental chemistry?! We undertook our own professional development in creating these materials in plain-English, going back-to-basics in understanding how elecrticity is made from solar PV, solar thermal, wind, geothermal and other emerging options.

After we completed the student resources with a small guide for teachers, most suggestions for improvements from our colleagues centred around additional teaching support. In particular teachers asked for small activities and assessment ideas that could be integrated within existing classes to help embed sustainability within the curriculum. This gave rise to the latest stage of the initiative, producing a teacher supplement for each of the three modules. Looking back at the evolution of these materials there have been many contributors and reviewers (see acknowledgements below) without whom the initiative would not have been possible - thank you.

Bearing in mind that we come from an engineering, tech-heavy background, we hope that the modules inspire with their rigour and the accompanying fun activities for the classroom. We have intentionally left them as simple word and PDF files for easy copy-paste and printing (Creative Commons Attributes Licence). So 'take it and use it' freely, just acknowledging source. Please let us know if you have any comments for further improvement!

Foreword

Foreword by former Minister Rod Welford (2009)
 

In the 21st Century we need citizens who can innovate and creatively address impending social, economic and environmental challenges. Schools play a crucial role in developing these strengths in students, who can then move into careers designing and delivering sustainable solutions for society. Moreover, our students are calling for schools to do so. This set of materials for Grade 10-12 provides a flexible tool for teachers to thread sustainability content into the final years of student learning, systematically building on earlier years of education. The straight-forward and flexible structure of the resource will allow integration with existing curriculum that is sensitive to the diversity of school and classroom needs.

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Module 1: Sustainability & Really Cool Technologies (Energy, Water, Waste)

The Teacher Supplement provides additional information to the Subject Supplements, including an activity pack for each lesson. The content has been structured to enable a wide variety of teaching methods, from lecture-style teaching, to problem based learning. Teachers may choose to fully explore all of the material, or just take parts of the content as they support existing materials in the learning program. The Teacher Supplement also addresses the National Curriculum cross-curriculum priority 'Sustainability'.

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The aim of this lesson is to provide a general introduction to the following three lessons on energy, water and waste. Additional Readings are provided to introduce students to key topics, in case they do not have prior learning in these areas. This introductory package provides the context to sustainable development through identifying a number of key challenges for the 21st Century. We consider the definition of sustainable development to be where technologies, processes and practices can reduce our environmental impact while still meeting the needs of the world’s growing population. We highlight the specific role technology plays in addressing climate change and sustainable development.

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The aim of this lesson is to provide an overview of climate change and ‘peak oil’, and introduce ways of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil fuels like oil as an energy source. In particular, we will consider using energy more efficiently in everyday places like our homes, and using different forms of fuel and technology to power vehicles.

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The aim of this lesson is to provide an overview of the challenges that Australia and the rest of the world are facing with maintaining our most precious resource: water. This lesson will introduce various ways we can use water more efficiently, clean water more effectively, and help major users of water, like agriculture, reduce their reliance.

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The aim of this lesson is to introduce the significance of waste that comes from our everyday practices, and the extent to which waste-to-landfill impacts on the health of our society and the environment. This part will introduce the benefits of reducing and eliminating waste, and highlights some examples of what companies and governments around the world are doing to achieve ‘zero waste’ goals.

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Module 2: Electricity – Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Development

The Teacher Supplement provides additional information to the Subject Supplements, including an activity pack for each lesson. The content has been structured to enable a wide variety of teaching methods, from lecture-style teaching, to problem based learning. Teachers may choose to fully explore all of the material, or just take parts of the content as they support existing materials in the learning program. The Teacher Supplement also addresses the National Curriculum cross-curriculum priority 'Sustainability'.

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The aim of this lesson is to describe the key components of solar cells and wind turbines, and the processes used by these technologies to generate electricity from the sun’s energy.

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The aim of this lesson is to describe the key components of steam turbines and electric generators, and the processes used by these technologies to generate electricity from steam.

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The aim of this lesson is to describe the key components of hydroelectric power plants and ocean power plants, and the processes used by these technologies to generate electricity from flowing water.

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The aim of this lesson is to describe the key components of fuel cell systems and the process that fuel cell systems use to generate electricity from gas without combustion.

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Module 3: Green Chemistry – Innovations for Sustainable Development

The Teacher Supplement provides additional information to the Subject Supplements, including an activity pack for each lesson. The content has been structured to enable a wide variety of teaching methods, from lecture-style teaching, to problem based learning. Teachers may choose to fully explore all of the material, or just take parts of the content as they support existing materials in the learning program. The Teacher Supplement also addresses the National Curriculum cross-curriculum priority 'Sustainability'.

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The aim of this lesson is to introduce the topic of ‘Green Chemistry’ and to set the context for the following three lessons. This lesson introduces a number of key Green Chemistry principles that scientists and engineers can use to move towards sustainable development.

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This lesson aims to highlight the potential role of Green Chemistry in helping to mitigate climate change through innovations in: 1) reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and 2) removing (sequestering) greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The lesson briefly discusses the types of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and some exciting chemistry innovations in sequestering GHGs and reducing GHG emissions.

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This lesson aims to introduce the topic of reducing toxicity and the concept of ‘benign by design’, where products and services are designed so that they don’t use or produce toxins in the first place. The lesson provides examples of companies and organisations that are successfully applying this concept to their products and services.

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This lesson aims to introduce students to the issues and possible opportunities within the field of batteries, as well as the role batteries will play in enabling sustainable development. In particular, this lesson highlights the opportunities in hybrid-electric and electric vehicle applications, biodegradable batteries, and batteries that can support reliable renewable energy supply.

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Acknowledgements


The development of the ‘Sustainability Education for High Schools: Year 10-12 - Subject Supplements' was supported by a grant from the Port of Brisbane Corporation and developed by in partnership with Griffith University and the University of New South Wales as part of the Sustainable Living Challenge. In particular the authors would like to thank the support and mentoring provided by Ms Nikki Owen, Mr Rick Morton and Mr Brad Kitchen (The Port of Brisbane Corporation). Content was peer reviewed by Mr Cameron Mackenzie (Queensland Department of Education), and Mr Ben Roche (National Manager, Sustainable Living Challenge, University of New South Wales). The development of this publication has been supported by the contribution of non-staff related on-costs and administrative support by the Centre for Environment and Systems Research (CESR) at Griffith University; and the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University. The material has been researched and developed by the team from The Natural Edge Project.

The development of ‘Sustainability Education for High Schools: Year 10-12 - Teacher Supplements' was supported by a grant from the Queensland Division of Engineers Australia. In particular the authors would like to acknowledge the support and mentoring provided by Mr Ian McEwan (Executive Director, QLD Division), Mr David Finch and Mr Geoff Haig (Education Linkages Group, QLD Division). With thanks to the teachers of South East Queensland to gave their time and contributions to refining this resource in March 2011. The following team members also provided support in the review of the resource: Mr David Sparks, Ms Angie Reeve and Mr Matt Sorenson.

 

Citations:

Subject Supplements: Desha, C., Hargroves, K., Smith, M. and Stasinopoulos, P. (2008) Sustainability Education for High Schools: Year 10-12 - Subject Supplements, The Natural Edge Project, Australia.

Teacher Supplements: Desha, C., Hargroves, K. and Farr, A. (2011) Sustainability Education for High Schools: Year 10-12 - Teacher Supplements, The Natural Edge Project, Australia.

 

Additional Resources suggested by Ms. Svensson's and Mrs. Baranowski's 12th Grade Science Students (Thanks to Casey, Kailey, Jared, Markus, Andrew, and Selena)

1) Greenworks: "Here are some links where you will find expert info on a range of green related topics."

2) African American Environmental Association: "Although recycling has been a part of society since the beginning, we have only recently started to realize how much of an environmental impact our industrialization is leaving on natural resources".

3) US EPA: This page contains a range of resource for students K-12 along with Educators and Parents.

4) Natural Resource Defence Council: "Smarter Living - Actions you can take in your Daily Life"

5) WorldWatch Institute: "10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green"

6) The Water Page: "Water is one of our most important resources, as every living thing needs water to survive."

7) The Story of Stuff - Project: "The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns."

8) Flex Your Power: "We all know that recycling is necessary to reduce waste and save natural resources, but did you know it also saves energy?"

 

Additional Resources suggested by Ms. Hayes' 5th Grade Students

1) U-Pack Moving: Saving Money & the Environment: A Kid's Guide to Recycling

 

Additional Resources suggested by Ms. Ward's Students

3) Afforddable Lamps: Lighting Recycling Guide

4) Sewell: Living Green: A Guide to Recycling Electronics

 

Additional Resources

1) Modular Homeowners: How Do Green Modular Homes Help the Environment?

 

 

The development of the ‘Sustainability Education for High Schools: Year 10-12 Subject Supplements' was supported by the Port of Brisbane Corporation and developed in partnership with Griffith University and the University of New South Wales (Sustainable Living Challenge). The Teaching Supplement materials were subsqeuently supported by Engineers Australia Queensland Division (Education Committee).

   

The Natural Edge Project Engineering Sustainable Solutions Program is supported by the Australian National Commission for UNESCO through the International Relations Grants Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.