Overview
This project is designed to be used as a culminating activity in the last three weeks (seven 85 minute class periods) of marking period four. Designing and building of these model power plants will engage students while incorporating the various topics they’ve learned in the marking period (electricity, circuits, alternative energies, embodied energy, payback period, life cycle assessments, etc.). Students will design and construct model power plants using an alternative energy of their choice. Along with a working model, students must hand in their blueprints, and a summary research paper including their calculations of embodied energy, payback period and LCA, as well as other analyses. As stated above in the introduction, quantitative analysis of their models and student’s ability to prove their models environmental superiority over fossil fuels will be weighted heavily. Learning objectives, a timeline of the unit, materials needed, the components of the research paper, and an example grading rubric for the unit have all been provided below.
Learning objectives

SWBAT brainstorm and design working model power plants

SWBAT create electrical flow using a generator

SWBAT construct working circuits

SWBAT calculate embodied energy of their models using online tools

SWBAT measure voltage and amperage using a multimeter

SWBAT calculate the energy outputs of their models

SWBAT calculate the payback period of their model

SWBAT research the life cycle assessment (LCA) of their chosen energy

SWBAT analyze the scalability of their model for lifesize use
Timeline
Teacher checks will be required after completion of each of the following stages to help keep students on pace.
Stage 1: Research on their technology or technologies of interest (1 day)
Stage 2: Submitted blueprint/design of model along with list of needed materials (1 day)
Stage 3: Construction and testing of model (2 days)
Stage 4: Calculations of embodied energy, payback period, and LCA
(Alternatively, LCA may be looked up in order to save time and complexity) (1 day)
Stage 5: Writing of research paper (2 days)
Materials
It is recommended to have students work in no more than pairs (individually if they prefer) to maximize engagement. Each group is likely to need the following materials:

2 feet of insulated copper wire (gauges between 20 and 22 are likely best, alligator clips could also be used)

3 light emitting diodes (LEDs)

Wire strippers

One DC generator/motor

AA Battery (to test circuit without generator)

Multimeter

Materials specific to their energy of choice

Solar panels

Components to construct a wind turbine

Desk waterfall to model a flowing river along with components to construct a watermill

(it is possible to make model steam powered generators in the classroom, although this is likely to be more challenging)
Research Paper
Research papers are expected to be between 35 pages with included calculations and figures. The following components must be included in their research papers:

Introduction to energy source: what it is, how it works, current applications, etc.

Breakdown and calculations of embodied energy (most likely in table)

Calculation of payback period (will be more difficult if their technology emits any CO
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2
}
in normal use)

Graph of CO
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2
}
eq released overtime for their technology including lines for one or more fossil fuels

Calculation or research on lifecycle assessment (LCA)
Analysis Questions:

What challenges were faced in the design and construction of your model?

Based on your calculations and research, how will your technology improve human environmental impact?

What problems do you potentially foresee in the scaling of this technology for actual use?
Presentations including these components may also be used in place of or in addition to the research paper.
Grading Rubric
Component

Percentage

Blueprint/design

10%

Working model

30%

Research paper



Intro

5%

Embodied energy

10%

Payback period

10%

Graph

10%

LCA

5%

Analysis questions

20%
