Science & Engineering of Renewable Energies

Students in the renewable energies course explore pivotal issues facing us today about sustainability from a science perspective. This class introduces energy-related concepts through multiple inquiry-based modules that feature driving questions including: 

  • How can we reduce our carbon footprint?
  • Can electrical cars replace gasoline-powered cars in the future
  • How can we build a zero-energy house? 

Students engage in various activities to investigate scientific phenomena in everyday life, including performing experiments to understand greenhouse effect and heat transfer, recording activities on a typical weekday to calculate carbon emissions, interacting with computational simulations about energy sources, assembling and testing solar cell-powered cars, building zero-energy houses, and creating urban districts with maximal use of green energy. 

With these stimulating modules, students learn to explain everyday events by integrating various concepts about energy and apply their knowledge to solve real-life problems. Student investigations weave together chemistry, physics and the life sciences, including environmental science. Through investigation, class participants develop an understanding of:

  • the differences between renewable and nonrenewable energies
  • how to assess the advantages and disadvantages of different renewable energies, e.g., wind, solar, hydroelectric, tidal, biomass, geothermal and other forms of non-fossil fuels
  • how to determine what are the ‘most’ environmentally friendly energies

Student engineering design challenges include designing vehicles that use non-fossil fuel sources, designing magnetic levitation train prototypes and/or designing "net zero" home prototypes. Their work will include use of our 3D printer.

Site visits or visiting specialists! The Ti2 team engages area research institutions and industries to help students understand how and why people are investigating the science behind and developing innovative solutions to the topics and issues covered in this course.   

Learning entry points may include the use of fiction and non-fiction literature, field trips, and art.