Investigating Fuel Sustainability

Investigating Fuel Sustainability

This video serves as primer to some of climate change impacts and sustainability issues associated with producing and using biofuels and fossil fuels.

This set of lessons addresses the socio-scientific issue of sustainable fuels. Like most socio-scientific issues, there is no simple answer and even more complex solutions do not apply equally everywhere. Students address the complexity by first exploring the meaning of sustainability and how it applies to fuel production and use. Students then research the steps involved in producing multiple fuels or energy sources for vehicles including fossil fuels, biofuels, and electricity produced in a number of different ways. They explore the environmental impacts of each step with particular emphasis on carbon emissions. Students dig one step deeper as they examine data on the yields of different biofuel crops.

Grade Level Middle School, High School and Undergraduate (Grades 6-16)
Subjects Biology, Environmental Science, Earth Science, Economics, Social Studies
Resource Type Stand-alone activity, Unit
Concepts/Skills energy, fuels, sustainability, natural resources, data analysis, systems thinking
Time Required Five 50-minute class periods
Prior Knowledge Familiarity with fuels and sustainability helpful but not required.
Required Supplies None. Download materials in activity package.
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Investigating Fuel Sustainability Package (.zip, 16.48MB)
Includes teacher instructions, classroom presentations, student worksheets, and answer key.