Looking for a renewable energy HS curriculum

Discuss the pros and cons of various curriculums, or get help on which to choose!

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biogkid50
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Looking for a renewable energy HS curriculum

Postby biogkid50 » Tue Aug 18, 2009 5:10 pm

We're down to our last child homeschooling.
I'm looking for a textbook/curriculum that focuses on renewable energy.

Would like it to include info on basic electricity, Edison, Tesla :D , photovoltaic, and especially wind power.

She's reads well, and often.
Some labs would be nice.

Any ideas?

Thanks
Bob

alisoncooks
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Postby alisoncooks » Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:29 pm

The only thing I've seen (and I've not been necessarily looking on this subject) is WinterPromise's science unit (grades 7-9) called "Sizzle, Solve & Survive":

http://www.winterpromise.net/product_in ... cts_id=953

Looks like LOTS of fun, but may not be the correct age for your child (?) or a complete textbook/curriculum...

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Theodore
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Postby Theodore » Sat Aug 22, 2009 4:50 pm

Well... it's not enough to just go over the technology, you also need an economics course to truly understand energy choices. I personally wouldn't worry about this too much until high school / community college.

Fact of the matter is that while oil is becoming more difficult to dig out, it's still so plentiful that renewable energy sources can't compete from a cost standpoint, plus they're unreliable and would require a massive overhaul of the US electrical infrastructure to implement on any scale. Wind power, for instance, is typically built in large flat areas where nobody lives, and even if it produced a nice steady flow of electricity 24/7, you often need to reroute that power tens or hundreds of miles to get it where it's needed. Solar power requires large areas of space to implement at any reasonable wattage, and the materials are still relatively expensive. Have to add in the the cost of building your power source when you're calculating how much energy you're saving. Ethanol from corn is a dead end and is raising the cost of food staples for the poor (ethanol from sugarcane is a different matter, but we don't have the right climate for that).

Basically, wind power will probably never be useful outside of certain areas of the country. Solar collectors (using salt solutions for heat storage) have a strong possibility of becoming competitive in the near future, and solar panels / LCD lighting will similarly improve over the next 5-10 years. But neither will ever provide more than a small percentage of US power (probably less than 20-30% at the most wildly optimistic estimates - more would periodically crash the network). What we really need is more nuclear power plants, it's the cleanest and most efficient way to replace coal power, and new technology there (pebble bed reactors) has made even such non-incidents as Five Mile Island impossible. The US is in no way like Russia.

Bottom line, replace coal with nuclear power to reduce pollution, let the market decide the rest. Sadly, most of the energy funding added by Obama has been to create wind and power plants using current, non-competitive technology, not to research new technology that might have a chance of competing over the next few years. It's ethanol or electric cars all over again :\

(you can probably tell I've read a lot about this - you might try collecting some back issues of the MIT Technical Journal and have your daughter read the energy-related articles. There are also plenty of news stories in major news publications if you don't mind filtering out the puff pieces)


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