Energized Learning

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National Science Education Content Standard E
Science and Technology
(grades 9-12)

Linkages with Energized Learning

Abilities of Technological Design
Identify a Problem or Design nn Opportunity

Students should be able to identify new problems or needs and to change and improve current technological designs. [See Content Standard A (grades 9-12)]

  • The “Getting Started” and “Bringing it Home” exercises give students an opportunity to look at the home as a collection of technologies, and to understand and improve various constituent technologies towards the end of lower energy use, environmental impacts, and costs. The “How Big is Your Carbon Bubble” exercise, described in a background report sets a more conceptual view of the problem and objective for the solution.

Propose Designs and Choose Between Alternative Solutions

Students should demonstrate thoughtful planning for a piece of technology or technique. Students should be introduced to the roles of models and simulations in these processes.

  • In the “Getting Started” and “Bringing it Home” exercises, students are engaged in planning technology and behavioral changes for their homes and evaluating the impacts. Both exercises present the benefits and limitations of simulations in evaluating residential energy use.

Implement a Proposed Solution

A variety of skills can be needed in proposing a solution depending on the type of technology that is involved. The construction of artifacts can require the skills of cutting, shaping, treating, and joining common materials--such as wood, metal, plastics, and textiles. Solutions can also be implemented using computer software.

  • Energized Learning’s embedded simulation tool (The Home Energy Saver) allows students to test and quantify the impacts of implementing various technological solutions. Additional exercises can be devised in which the student works with their parents to make physical energy-savings improvements to their home.

Evaluate the Solution and Its Consequences

Students should test any solution against the needs and criteria it was designed to meet. At this stage, new criteria not originally considered may be reviewed.

Communicate the Problem, Process, and Solution

Students should present their results to students, teachers, and others in a variety of ways, such as orally, in writing, and in other forms--including models, diagrams, and demonstrations. [See Teaching Standard B]

  • In the “Getting Started” and “Bringing it Home” exercises, students construct graphical presentations of their results. Various opportunities are provided to consider the value of different ways of charting the data. An extension of the existing exercises would be to have the students prepare a comprehensive plan for improving their home’s energy use, and present to the class. This could be expanded by also evaluating a potential “dream home”, and evaluating its energy use compared to their existing home with and without high-energy-efficiency features.

Understandings About Science and Technology

Scientists in different disciplines ask different questions, use different methods of investigation, and accept different types of evidence to support their explanations. Many scientific investigations require the contributions of individuals from different disciplines, including engineering. New disciplines of science, such as geophysics and biochemistry often emerge at the interface of two older disciplines.

  • All exercises emphasize the value of interdisciplinary inquiry. The Energy Analysis disciplines born out of the energy crises of the 1970s combine physics, mathematics, engineering, environmental science, and economics in novel ways. The projects presented in Energized Learning stem from this interdisciplinary tradition.

Science often advances with the introduction of new technologies. Solving technological problems often results in new scientific knowledge. New technologies often extend the current levels of scientific understanding and introduce new areas of research.

  • Technological advances have been rapid in the area of residential energy-efficiency. Among these, computerized building simulation models, such as the one used in Energized Learning, have allowed for a level of analysis not previously possible with the limitations of simplified “pen-and-paper calculations”. For example, the amount of solar energy admitted to the home—as a function of window areas and orientation—is accurately computed on an hourly basis in the model, for any of the ~240 locations chosen in the US. The underlying heating and cooling simulator accounts for complex thermodynamic processes within a building. Students can also use the tool to evaluate critical interactions between measures. For example, the total energy savings for a set of, say, 10 measures will almost be less than the sum of each measure’s savings taken individually. This observation can form the basis of interesting classroom discussion.

Creativity, imagination, and a good knowledge base are all required in the work of science and engineering.

  • The open-ended nature of many of the Energized Learning exercises challenges the students to use their knowledge and imagination to devise and test (through simulation) innovative ways to reduce energy use in their homes.

Science and technology are pursued for different purposes. Scientific inquiry is driven by the desire to understand the natural world, and technological design is driven by the need to meet human needs and solve human problems. Technology, by its nature, has a more direct effect on society than science because its purpose is to solve human problems, help humans adapt, and fulfill human aspirations. Technological solutions may create new problems. Science, by its nature, answers questions that may or may not directly influence humans. Sometimes scientific advances challenge people's beliefs and practical explanations concerning various aspects of the world.

  • The concepts put forth in Energized Learning exemplify the real-world confluence of science and technology. The scientific backdrop relates to national and global energy use and its implications for the natural world, primarily through energy-related pollution and the greenhouse effect. The link to technology is made by evaluating the levels of greenhouse-gas emissions released in association with the energy used by students’ homes. A wide variety of technological solutions are explored via the simulation tool. Students will often be surprised (as a result of climate and other local variables) by the relatively high/low levels of energy savings that result from ideas they may test on their homes. Students will also be sensitized to the degree to which affluence (indicated by home size and/or appliance ownership) determines energy use and associated pollution. The economics exercises in the “Getting Started” lesson illustrate the practical implications of the students’ analyses.

Technological knowledge is often not made public because of patents and the financial potential of the idea or invention. Scientific knowledge is made public through presentations at professional meetings and publications in scientific journals.

  • Links in the Energized Learning site expose students to relevant knowledge published in scientific journals and other peer-reviewed sources.
    arning relies heavily on student-run models. However, it also emphasizes that models have limitations and are only an approximate description of reality. Students are encouraged to think critically about their results. Having students compare their actual energy bills to the model results is one method for stimulating this type of discussion.

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