Using Life Cycle Data to Help Teachers Understand Key Energy Concepts

Participants engage in and provide feedback on digital interactive learning experiences that use National Renewable Energy Laboratory life cycle data and help teachers understand key energy concepts. Please bring your laptop.

2014 Session Types
Feedback Session (Work in Development)

Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) and project partners are developing an online course for high school science teachers. The purpose of the course is to help teachers understand key energy concepts in alternative energy contexts. The course includes three interactive learning experiences (interactives) that use life cycle data from the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). These interactives allow teachers to examine the inputs and outputs for the generation of electrical energy from coal-fired and nuclear power plants and the production of ethanol from corn, corn stover, and switchgrass. During the first field test, teachers enjoyed using the first life cycle data interactive but struggled to understand the benefit of examining data across systems (for example, comparing inputs and outputs for a coal-fired power plant to those for a nuclear power plant).

The goals for this session are to share with colleagues the project’s approach to helping teachers use complex life cycle data to better understand energy generation from a systems perspective and gain feedback on how the project might improve the experience for teachers. At the session, participants:

1. briefly learn about the structure and goals of the online course;

2. briefly review NREL data and its use in the interactive experiences;

3. engage with the interactives, answering questions that are posed for teachers in the materials;

4. participate in a discussion of the strengths and limitations of the interactives and how they might be improved; and

5. discuss how the interactives may be adjusted for use with high school students.