Future Fuels from Forests Units developed by
2010 Future Fuels from Forests Summer Teacher Institute Participants
1. Energy Basics, by Sarah Stevens
Kindergarten, Science and ELA
This unit is intended to help students understand what energy is, where it comes from, and how it affects our everyday lives. The goal is for students to become more aware of their energy consumption and learn to conserve energy. They will learn specific ways they can save energy at school and at home. They will understand that their personal choices and actions have a great impact on the environment. Another goal is for them to understand what it means to reduce, reuse, and recycle and to take interest in doing these important things.
2. Renewable Energy, by Kelly Bartashnick
First Grade, Science and Language Arts
Students will learn basic information about renewable and nonrenewable energy. They will then conduct a few simple experiments with the focus on solar energy. These experiments include a carbon footprint activity, a nonrenewable energy activity, a solar energy activity, a thermometer activity and a solar balloon activity.
3. Future Fuels From Forests Teaching Unit, by Laura Speegle
4th – 6th Grade, Science
Students will begin this unit by looking at renewable and non renewable resources. They will discover that fossil fuels are non renewable and will eventually be depleted, as well as the fact that fossil fuel extraction damages ecosystems and causes greenhouse gases. Students will examine the alternatives to fossil fuels and the advantages and disadvantages of these alternatives. Lastly, students will focus on one alternative, biomass. Students will explore the economic, social and environmental pros and cons of producing biofuels. This science unit includes tie-ins with reading, discourse and social studies in the hopes that our students will begin to think scientifically and globally about the future.
4. It’s Not Easy Being Green, by Mary Ackerson
5th Grade, Science
This unit contains two weeks of lessons and activities to be taught within the first weeks of school as part of the introduction to our yearlong fifth grade theme of “Systems.” The activities follow the 5 E’s approach to teaching science: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. In addition, each lesson contains both a content objective and a language objective. During the first week of the unit, students will be introduced to the idea of stewardship of the environment in terms of what can be done to improve the school’s local ecosystem. Throughout the second week, lessons will focus on the topic of energy usage and its relationship to the environment continued emphasis on stewardship at a practical level for fifth graders.
1. Global Change & Future Fuels from Forests, by Tammy Daenzer
7th Grade, Earth Science
In this unit students will first identify the sun as the major source of energy for phenomena on the surface of the Earth. Then the students will investigate the atmosphere, study how human activities impact the biosphere, closely examine the hydrosphere, and complete a study on weather and climate. Throughout this unit students will focus on an in-depth examination of how human activities cause global change. At the end of this unit students will be more conscious of how human activities affect the world and have ideas about how they can adjust their own activities to minimize their negative impacts on the Earth.
2. Alternative Energy Sources, by Rosemary Morebitzer
7th and 8th Grade, Earth Science & Pre-Algebra
Several of the 8th grade Earth Science objectives deal with renewable and nonrenewable sources of energy. Students must understand the difference between these two main sources of energy, the pros and cons of each source, and which source of energy works best for the local area where they live. During this unit students will complete activities about the carbon cycle, energy use, renewable and nonrenewable resources and bio-fuels. The focus of this unit is to improve students’ analytical skills. The activities are designed to enhance scientific thinking. Problem solving, observational, higher order thinking skills are targeted in the unit.
“The Carbon in Trees” activity has been included as a science extension for pre-algebra classes when teaching order of operations and exponents.
3. Alternative Fuel Choices for Michigan, by Greg Brovont
8th Grade, Physical Science ---- Biofuels & Carbon PPT PDF
The purpose of this unit is to expose 8th grade physical science students to the growing need for alternatives to fossil fuels. It is important to address the drawbacks of each alternative as well as their benefits. The students will assess the pros and cons of each alternative with respect to using them in Michigan. Students will begin by reviewing what they have already learned about renewable energy. They will conduct a simulation that mimics our growing population and the stress that puts on our resources. They will calculate the amount of carbon stored in a tree to see not only how much carbon is released when the tree is processed, but to also show how much carbon is sequestered by trees in general. The class will produce ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide through the process of fermentation, and look at the efficiency of CFC’s compared to incandescent light bulbs. The unit will culminate with groups of students researching one of the alternative fuels discussed, creating a poster, and giving a short presentation on their findings.
4. Where Did all the Energy Go?, by Joshua Meriwether ---------Handouts
8th grade, Science
Students will understand that some of the earth’s resources are non-renewable and will run out and some resources are renewable and can be continually reused. Students will engage in activities that help them identify non-renewable sources of energy and the advantages and disadvantages of each source. Students will also engage in activities that help them identify renewable sources of energy and the disadvantages and advantages of each source. They will then compare and contrast renewable and non-renewable sources of energy. They will identify the need to use more renewable sources in the future.
1. Biofuels in a Botany Class, by Heather Peterson
11th-12th Grade, Botany
Students will learn different kinds of forests, uses of forests, how to measure the biomass of trees, how to identify trees, and how forests are used for biofuels Students will review fossil fuels from 9th grade within this unit and evaluate the pros and cons of biofuels. At the end of this unit students will be able to measure and assess a forest plot for biomass and bio fuel possibilities along with some management recommendations. Students will also be able to define what biofuels are, what plants/trees they are made from, the basic process of ethanol production and connect this to their knowledge of plants, cell walls and plant chemistry. Students will be able to write a persuasive essay that has them pick an opinion about biofuels or a kind of biofuel and write with supporting evidence their arguments and counter arguments.
2. Biofuels and Sustainability, by Jim Collins
High School, Environmental Science
The overall theme to this unit will be sustainability. Students will understand that forest sustainability and biofuel use incorporates many other subjects which in essence make this topic an interdisciplinary study. We will incorporate science subjects: chemistry, ecology, and biology. In addition students will understand that decisions with biofuels also are affected by policy makers, economics, and product life cycles. The topic of using biofuels is but one of the alternative energy resources available to consumers. This unit will be tied to alternative energies but the main goal will be on researching the feasibility of biofuels in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan. Students will make a decision and presentation at the end of the unit deciding whether or not they support the use of woody biomass to make ethanol in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan.
3. How Much Wood Biomass is in that Forest? Why do we care?, by Deanna Jaroche
10th – 12th Grade, Environmental Science
Students will brainstorm about how forests are important to people and other living organisms. They will take a survey about forests at the beginning and end of the unit and compare results. After students are introduced to the importance of forests they will discuss PowerPoint presentations and complete activities that will introduce them to measuring woody biomass. They will use the knowledge and skills acquired to collect data from a local forest and use data and observations to answer questions about the local forest.
The unit begins by determining student background about goods and services from global forests and then connects students to their local forest (land). The (pedagogy) methods used are cooperative teams, popcorn reading, journal writing, a field investigation, and report writing. The lessons are designed for 68 minute class periods.
4. Biofuels: The Way of the Future?, by Erich Ziegler
11th-12th Grade, Chemistry
The over-arching goal of this unit is to provide a real-world issue for students to apply a variety of chemistry concepts, including the Laws of Conservation of Mass and Energy, stoichiometry, chemical reactions, and thermodynamics. Students will use the information they learned to synthesize a persuasive argument about fuel use that is based on scientific information. Studying biofuels in the context of chemistry will allow for deeper understanding of the fundamentals of science, as well as a relevant issue in the lives of the students.
5. Biofuels Unit Plan, by Kim Misyiak-Chumney
10th-12th Grade, Chemistry
This unit on biofuels was created to introduce the basic information about the different types of renewable and non-renewable hydrocarbon energy. Biofuels can be produced in different forms and all have different sources, structures and environmental impacts. A power point was created to begin the informational stage and students continue with a group investigation of petroleum products, biomass and wind power. A class discussion will encourage students to discuss their findings and clear up any additional questions students may have. Students will then build hydrocarbon molecule models and balance equations. The unit is concluded by conducting an experiment making biofuel and comparing it to other sources of energy. The goal of the unit is to connect chemistry with real time events in the classroom. Energy and environmental factors are prominent topics in today’s society; it is important that students understand all of the alternatives in order to make educated decisions when they go to the polls and vote or make decisions in their everyday lives. The purpose is not to encourage or discourage specific types of energy usage but to educate students about the benefits and risks.
6. Future Fuels from Forests Teaching Unit, by Christine Webster
11th-12th Grade, Environmental Strategies
Students will be introduced to this unit with a letter from a fictitious Joe Forest at Biomass Corporation. A survey from Biomass Corp will introduce students to the topic of biomass and more specifically biofuels. Through lecture, discussions, demonstrations, and labs, students will learn how ethanol and biodiesel is made. Students will evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using biofuels and use the logging industry as an example for the supply chain model. At the end of the unit, students will write a position letter back to Joe Forest in support of or against the building of a biofuels processing plant in southwestern MI.
7. Future Fuels from Forests Teaching Unit, by Duane Watson
10th Grade, Biology
During this unit students will examine and explain scientific evidence relating to climate change, carbon neutral systems and cellulose to ethanol systems. Students will also review the carbon cycle and explain the origins of plant mass. Finally, students will measure, collect, record data, compute data and make predictions.
The overall theme of this unit is one of introduction to the subject of Biology. The five days of lessons will be taught during the first and second week of the school year. The reason that they will be taught this way is to introduce the students to the terminology and infrastructure upon which they can hang new ideas and old as the year proceeds.
8. Future Fuels from Forests Teaching Unit, by Ian Gagnon
10th Grade, Physical Science, Life Science, Environmental Science, Reading
This unit covers physical processes that produce energy, conservation of mass, and energy. A common student opinion of science is that there is no practical purpose for what is learned. It is the goal of this unit to allow students to see what is learned in class as both practical and beneficial. These lessons are designed to show students how matter and energy are involved in everyday fuel consumption. The students will conduct a fungus-wood decay experiment that shows how a log loses mass as it decays and how fungi gains mass as it colonizes. Students will determine how land use influences greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of carbon present in sinks like forests. Students will then discover how ethanol is produced utilizing reactions. Finally, students will explore how electricity works by constructing a simple turbine