Teachers know that kids learn best by making real world connections to concepts that they’re learning about in the classroom but as much as I believe in learning through experiences, the honest truth is that it can be almost impossible to visit the places where the most impactful learning could take place. As much as students, teachers, and parents would love to
journey to remote islands in the Pacific Ocean or the Mojave Desert in California to witness the incredible ways these two places use renewable energy, such a field trip is best done virtually.
Next Friday, May 20 The Nature Conservancy is hosting a live virtual field trip to both the coral reef and the desert during Powering the Planet: Renewable Energy on YouTube at 1 pm ET.
Designed for grades 3-8, this science based virtual field trip explores the question: How can we get the energy we need without harming nature. From booting up our computers, fueling our cars, charging our cell phones, and flicking on a light switch, energy powers our lives every day in a myriad of ways. But where does energy come from? This virtual field trip will explore innovative methods for capturing energy that are safe, sustainable, and can change the destiny of life on our planet.
About Powering the Planet: Renewable Energy Virtual Field Trip
Participants will journey from the Palmyra Atoll, a wildly remote cluster of islands atop coral reefs 1000 miles south of Hawaii. This national marine monument area is powered almost exclusively by renewable energy sources and serves as a center for scientific study for research about global climate change, coral reefs, marine restoration and invasive species. Studies being done at Palmrya Atoll will inform conservation strategies for island ecosystems throughout the Pacific and around the world.
From the Pacific Ocean, participants will be treated to a visit to California’s Mojave Desert whose scorching landscape is home to rattlesnakes, tortoises, bats, and coyotes and massive solar panel installations that work to power large cities. Learn about The Nature Conservancy’s Development by Design approach to caring for the desert’s unique landscapes and ecology while encouraging the development of clean energy, which is vital to California’s future.
Mojave Desert, California
How to Participate in Powering the Planet: Renewable Energy Virtual Field Trip
Parents and teachers are welcome to join the free Powering the Planet: Renewable Energy YouTube video at 1:00 pm (EST) on Friday, May 20, 2016. This 45 minute virtual field trip will help third through eighth graders better understand the importance of solar and wind power as renewable energy sources. Unlike nonrenewable energy sources that we currently use (fossil fuels, coal and natural gas), solar and wind power can be replenished quickly and are usually available in a never-ending supply.
How the Virtual Field Trip Will Work
NatureWorksEverywhere.org hosts multiple free virtual field trips each year. Their last field trip How Nature Works in Coastal Peru: The Amazing Biodiversity of a Coastal Ecosystem was hosted as a G+ Hangout and made available via YouTube.
Watching it or other virtual field trips from the Nature Works Everywhere archive can help you and your students get a feel for how it will work to participate via YouTube.
Information for Teaching Renewable Energy Concepts to Students
If students could walk away with one piece of learning from Powering the Planet: Renewable Energy, they would understand why there is a need to explore renewable energy sources. Other key concepts include:
- How wind and solar energy work
- Pros and cons of each as renewable energy sources
- Factors to consider when proposing renewable energy for a region
Key Concepts and Terms
- Nonrenewable energy: Energy generated from natural resources. These sources are considered nonrenewable because they cannot be replenished (made again) in a short period of time
- Renewable energy: Energy generated from natural resources. These sources are considered renewable because they quickly replenish themselves and are usually available in a never-ending supply
- Solar power: The conversion of sunlight into electricity.
- Wind power: The conversion of wind energy into electrical power.
- Whirring: Makes a low, continuous, regular sound.
The following resources serve as supplementary materials that can be helpful to teachers and parents working to build background knowledge about renewable energy sources:
- Renewable Energy Lesson Plan (available as a free PDF or Word)
- Student Handout: Nature Spy
- Video: Renewable Energy
The content of this virtual field trip is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and the National Geography Standards.