Let’s make a new environment-friendly system using bioenergy

Authors: Müge Çomar Yaman, Yasemin Doğan, Özlem Kansız

We designed a series of STEM based lessons for students to make a new environment-friendly system using bioenergy and to evaluate the system in terms of its wastes. We aim to raise awareness of students about environment, climate and the use of clean energy through these lessons.

Which STEM subjects?

These STEM lessons include the solution process of a real-life problem which involves three disciplines; physics, chemistry and biology. Teachers of these subjects took part in designing them.

The real-life problem?

The problem they will solve requires them to use a biological energy source to work a system they design to ease life. Then they must determine the wastes the system leaves and the effect of these wastes on the environment and climate. They will be supposed to make a new environment-friendly system using bioenergy, then the materials they use are also important. The whole process will take 14 lessons (14×40’), but these lessons have not been implemented yet. Then in implementation we can also give students extra time. We hopefully intend to apply these lessons after pandemic.

There will be many decisions students need to take throughout the process i.e.; which source they will use, what kind of a system they will design, how they will determine the wastes etc. Therefore, the solution will be their own and this will make the solution and the process more valuable and understandable for students. This makes our design worth applying indeed.

Method

The participating students will be at 11th grade. The whole process is basically design-based research (DBR) through which real-life problems are solved. However, there is not a predetermined solution as a characteristic of this kind of problems. There is a variety of different methods which researchers use in DBR. In the lessons we will apply whole-class discussion and small group work. Students will watch videos and a demonstration experiment as well. All these are for knowledge acquisition of students. They will make their own environment-friendly design in the end.

Bioenergy and biomass

In the beginning we will allocate two lessons for brainstorming and to give students the problem they will be solving throughout the whole process. Students will also have information about citing references shortly in the class. We will share a link with students for extra information about citation rules as well. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dlVazr7uaIJOnIJPCXHdHYT3Kpbz0KVF/view?usp=sharing

Then teachers will send students a link for them to read and hereby have knowledge about bioenergy and biomass before. In the class they will watch some videos like this and make related discussions. Thus, we will emphasize the applicability of a partially similar project and attract their attention to the theory behind the energy transformation.

source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wg4j-2eGvU

A new environment-friendly system

They will

  • choose a bioenergy source to use
  • design a system using bioenergy
  • determine the wastes the system leaves
  • determine the effect of the wastes on the environment and climate.

To have an idea about how to transform kinetic energy to electrical energy, they will watch an animation with the link http://physics.bu.edu/~duffy/semester2/c18_generators.html.

Then the teacher will use a generator in a demonstration experiment to show how it is used. Students will be able to ask questions during and after the demonstration.

Before students study about wastes and their effect, they will be shared some related documents. When they come to class, they will take part in discussions and watch some related videos to support and complement the knowledge they need. For example, to have an idea about the effect of wastes they will watch a video about climate change.

source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-D_Np-3dVBQ

Assessment

After required knowledge of three STEM subjects is covered, students will take a formative evaluation test which consists of questions asked in class discussions to see if there is a common understanding. After students design a system in small groups and draw it on a paper roughly, teachers will evaluate their design in terms of its applicability and conformity. As a result of this initial assessment, teachers will give them feedback. Then they will set their system up with teachers’ feedback in mind. At the end they will prepare a group report of their work, design the system physically and work it. They will also determine the wastes of the system and evaluate each waste in terms of its effect on the environment and climate. Each group will present their work to the whole class as well. Final assessment will include the evaluation of group report, the system and presentation.

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About idogan

I'm a physics teacher. I have some research studies on contextualization of physics and outdoor physics education. My PhD dissertation was also about the integration of indoor and outdoor settings in physics education. I also have some studies about the design of model houses using solar panels/cells as a renewable energy source.

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