The school's first renewable energy program will provide students firsthand experience about electrical energy production
After two years of planning and research, the Saint Xavier Portable Renewable Energy Program, STX#PRE2P was born of the desire to teach a unit on electrical energy production, beyond the classical physics approach. The burning of fossil fuels - coal, oil, natural gas - all produce carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming and thus climate change. The science of climate change is more than 30 years old and really needs to move into the mainstream of science education.
This past summer, St. X Science teacher, Greg Cambron was selected to participate in the Purdue Energy Academy, an on-going summer program for motivated science teachers and high school students to learn about all forms of energy production. The world will need three times the amount of energy we produce currently within the next 30 years.
"It is an unprecedented challenge given the state of energy production currently employed all over the world. Renewable energy must move into the forefront and replace fossil fuels as the primary means of energy production if we are to reverse the process of global warming which has many ramifications for the world population," Cambron said.
The St. X wind turbine and photovoltaic panels are connected to a large battery storage system that can be deployed and used by students to gain a better understanding of the promise and problems of renewable energy. The Environmental Club will serve as the student group charged with understanding and educating other students from local high schools and grade schools about climate change and global warming while using the STX#PRE2P as the mechanism to focus that learning.
Mr. Cambron's honors physics courses will get an in-depth treatment during a three-week unit including all the science and math appropriate at that level for juniors and seniors.
Mr. Cambron's "Science to Understand":
- Climate change is a consequence of global warming
- Global warming is directly attributed to humankind burning fossil fuels - which include coal, oil, gas, gasoline and diesel
- The combustion of all hydrocarbons (fossil fuels) releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
- Carbon dioxide means more trapped heat, thus more global warming, which leads to more extreme climate change
- The planet, overall, is becoming warmer and wetter. Warmer air holds more water vapor.
- Climate change is experienced as extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, floods, droughts and wildfires. These events are becoming greater in magnitude and longer in duration, and some more frequent in occurrence.
- Polar ice caps and the world's glaciers are melting, thus the ocean water levels are rising, consequently coastal hurricane storm surge is worse.
- The oceans act as a carbon sink, absorbing carbon dioxide, and therefore both the salinity and acidity of the oceans are changing in negative ways.
- Carbon dioxide concentrations are measured in parts per million. For millennia, these concentrations were at 180 ppm. Today, they stand at over 410 ppm and rising! Many scientists set the limit between 300-350 ppm.
- The burning of fossil fuels to produce electrical energy is a major contributor to Global Warming. A growing population is consuming a growing amount of electrical energy. 30 Terawatts of power will be needed by 2050.
- Electrical energy produced by wind turbines and photovoltaic panels is 100% renewable and produces no carbon dioxide.
- Enough energy from the sun his the Earth in less than one day to power the entire planet's needs for an entire year! Humans created this problem and humans can fix it
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