Energy from the Ocean Currents: the New Renewable

 

Lesson Format

The Energy from Ocean Currents: The New Renewable is an exciting new curriculum for high school students focusing on ocean energy technology. The curriculum was created in partnership with FAU’s Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center (SNMREC) and the Center for Environmental Studies (CES).

There are 6 detailed lessons in the curriculum. These are:

  • Why do we need renewable energy?
  • How is electricity generated?
  • How do we identify ocean currents with the best potential for producing energy?
  • Harnessing energy from ocean currents: the new renewable
  • What are the environmental impacts of ocean energy?
  • The future of ocean energy

The beginning of each lesson has the vocabulary for that lesson as well as a teacher background so that the teacher can confidently teach the lesson. After the background sections, we’ve used a variation of the 5 E’s model for the curriculum’s teacher sequence. These sections are:

  • Engaging the learner – these activities will get the students excited about the topic.
  • Exploring the concept – these activities are an exploration intended to get the students to learn the concepts by doing them.
  • Explaining the concept – in each lesson, the explaining the concept section is a PowerPoint based on the teacher background that you read at the beginning.
  • Elaborating on the concept – once the student has explored on their own and then had the concepts explained, they complete another activity and meet a professional to learn about their environmental career.
  • Evaluating the learner – students now have an understanding of the purpose of the lesson and should be able to answer some questions summarizing the lesson.

A glossary in the back of the manual has a list of the definitions given within each lesson.

Why do we need renewable energy?

 
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The purpose of this lesson is to review the science and consequences of global climate change
and to introduce students to the importance of increasing our options for renewable energy
sources.

Learning Objectives:
After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Explain how climate change and the use of energy are connected.
  • Explain why the limited supply and negative impacts of non-renewable energy sources places even more significance on the development of renewable energy sources.
  • Identify energy sources currently used in Florida.
  • Calculate their carbon and ecological footprint.
  • Compare the various types of non-renewable and renewable energy sources.

Total Estimated Time for this lesson: 4 – 5 class sessions

How is electricity generated?

 
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The purpose of this lesson is to explain how electricity is generated. The students will learn
about energy, conservation of energy, and the basics of electricity. This lesson will also
describe electromagnetism, power, and their applications.

Learning Objectives:
After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Define, recognize, build and draw a closed circuit.
  • Understand that a closed circuit is required for any electrical device to
    operate.
  • Describe the transformations of energy that occur in the circuit.
  • Use correct operations and appropriate methods to solve Ohm's law problems.
  • Recognize how electricity is important to everyday life.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of energy, power, and electricity.
  • Identify the different parts and purposes of a generator.
  • Predict how minimizing electrical use can save energy and why it is crucial to
    find other energy sources (preferably renewable) besides fossil fuels.

Total Estimated Time for this lesson: ~5 class sessions

How do we identify ocean currents with the best potential for producing energy?

 
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Students will learn about the surface currents and how to identify the best locations for utilizing the currents for energy production

Learning Objectives:
After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Describe the factors that cause the surface currents to flow around the major ocean basins.
  • Compare and contrast the characteristics of the boundary currents that comprise each gyre.
  • Explain why the western boundary currents are intensified compared to the other boundary currents in the gyre.
  • Describe the advantages of using the Florida Current or the Gulf Steam for electrical power production.

Total Estimated Time for this lesson: ~6 class sessions

Harnessing energy from ocean currents: the new renewable

 
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The purpose of this lesson is to explain how we can use the Ocean’s currents to generate power. The students will learn about the different types of power plants and turbines. This lesson will also describe Bernoulli’s principle and how it relates to wind and water turbines.

Learning Objectives:
After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Recognize the components of a turbine.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of Bernoulli’s Principle and how it relates to turbines (and everyday life).
  • Identify different types of energy that could potentially drive turbines in power plants.
  • Explain the different ways energy can be transformed, and how this relates to turbines.
  • Interpret the different laws of Physics that apply to turbines.

Total Estimated Time for this lesson: 3-4 class sessions

What are the environmental impacts of ocean energy?

 
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Students will learn about the issues that could possibly have environmental impacts and what is being done to determine the risks to the environment.

Learning Objectives:
After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Predict possible impacts of turbines on the physical and biological environment.
  • Produce a simplified ranked matrix on the impacts of active turbine systems on sea turtles in the region.
  • Predict possible stranding areas for sea turtles impacted by turbines.
  • Compare and contrast the use of pilot vs. commercial turbines and their impacts on the environment.
  • Discuss the large-scale environmental impacts resulting from human activity
  • Identify possible impacts of ocean energy and categorize them on their need for further investigation.
  • Understand the difference in impacts between non-renewable energy and renewable forms of energy such as ocean energy.

Total Estimated Time for this lesson: 3-4 class sessions

The future of ocean energy

 
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The purpose of this lesson is to connect what the science students have learned about in previous lessons to the research conducted at Florida Atlantic University’s Sea Tech campus and to introduce students to a potential future source of ocean energy – Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion.

Learning Objectives:
After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Explain the concept of phases of matter.
  • Contrast the physical differences between solid, liquid, and gas.
  • Understand the connection between energy and the state of phase of a substance.
  • Describe the different phase changes that are occurring during the process of boiling, melting, freezing, sublimation, condensation, precipitation.
  • Develop and explain the various sections (legs) of a heating curve
  • Contrast the difference between Latent and Thermal Heat
  • Explain the connection between the concepts of average kinetic energy of a substance and temperature.
  • Describe the basic concept of heat capacity and the general differences between a high and a low heat capacity of a substance.
  • Be able to read and interpret a phase change diagram.
  • Explain how pressure and temperature effect the phase of matter of a system.
  • Describe how the intermolecular bonding strength and the polar characteristics of a
  • substance are the primary phenomena behind phase changes.
  • Hypothesize how materials with different phase characteristics can be used in realistic applications of electrical energy production.
  • Describe how the thermal differentiations in the ocean can be utilized in the production of electrical energy.
  • Understand the basic science behind Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) technology.
  • List some advantages and disadvantages of using OTEC technology to provide electrical energy

Total Estimated Time for this lesson: 3-4 class sessions

 
 
 Last Modified 11/8/16