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Curriculum Ideas anyone?

 
Posts: 100
Location: Northern California Zone 8b
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Hi, I am a high school special education teacher and I work at a non-public school that has a lot of kids who are taking summer school every year. This summer I wanted to do something to explore with the kids about alternative energy (our school has about 40 panels), permaculture, sustainable living, and the like. I have about 20 days but will consider anything for longer periods of time (quarters, semesters, etc.).
The emphasis of education is weird and to teach these kids just meaningless academics seems completely asinine to me. These kids, being special education, are hindered within the current system, and most of the greater societal systems. Therefore I really want to impart to them more beneficial understands of life and our world, as well as how they can make life work for them instead of trying to work so hard to fit within in it.
Any information would be greatly appreciated.
peace
 
                              
Posts: 25
Location: near Bellingham WA
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I would suggest something project based.  Maybe each summer something different.

I've seen (but can't link to) plans for building a solar panel that doesn't use those photo cell thingies.  (so technical, eh??)  It's basically a poor man's version of a solar panel.  Or maybe those panel heaters that require a slightly open window and air flow as the panel heats up the air inside which then flows into the house to warm up the house in winter.

Recently I came across http://www.re-nest.com/re-nest/energy-power/windbelt-the-ribbon-wind-generator-048063
It's an invention that uses wind to vibrate a ribbon/band between two magnets, and thus produces energy.  Look the inventor up and you'll find something about his upgrade invention which creates enough power to recharge a few cell phones or mp3s at once.

With something like these, one part of the project could involve learning how to store energy that's created.

And, while this isn't alternative energy related, but maybe another teacher could offer it, I, personally, think that as a culture we could use more knowledge and experience in creating and using simple machines...and creating complex machines from simple machines.  Add this ability in with some understanding of alternative energy methods, and we've got the start of some decent experimenters and re-inventors for simple needs being met without the need for stored energy use.  (my opinion is that we rely too much on electric gadgets that we could get met with a little ingenuity)

Oh, or maybe explore various ways of getting light for night time reading.

Etc etc.

But yeah, primarily I would suggest something project based and that encourages experimenting and creative problem solving from the students.
 
brett watson
Posts: 100
Location: Northern California Zone 8b
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thanks anndelise, I think I am gonna go the project route as you suggest. definitely going to look into building a "poor man's" solar.
 
Posts: 489
Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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Projects definitely!  How about

1) composting
2) build a recumbent bike
3) build a small wind turbine
4) build a concentrating solar water preheater
5) vermicompost
6) develop a tank based grey water marsh
7) Do an energy audit of the school
build an electric go-cart
9) build ancient technologies (trebuchet, walking crane etc)
10) partner with community groups to run community gardens
11) develop community eco walks, eg marsh boardwalks, desert trails, forest gardens whatever is appropriate for your region
12)  Run a contest for self  made alternate energy
13) Science fair for community sustainability
etc
 
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