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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Fuel Cells

Lesson Description:
Scientists are constantly in search of alternate sources of energy that are environmentally friendly and do not deplete the earth’s supply of fossil fuels.  Because of their portable and rechargeable nature, fuel cells hold great potential as a future power source for everything from cars, to laptops, to cell phones.

In this project, students investigate the workings of fuel cells with that of a combustion engine to examine, first hand, the pros and cons of each source. Once the experiment and research are completed, students spread the word about why everyone should care about fuel cell technology.
This project incorporates elements of the scientific method.
Lesson Type:
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Energy

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Energy Challenge

Time Needed:
Up to one semester
Standards Addressed:

North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) Excellence in Environmental Education

  • Guidelines for learning:
  • Strand 1—Questioning and analysis skills (guidelines a, b, c, d, e, g) -strand 2.2—the living environment (a, c, d)
  • Strand 2.3—Humans and their societies (c, e)
  • Strand 2.4—Environment and society (a, b)
  • Strand 3.1—Skills for analyzing and investigating environmental issues (a, b, c, d)
  • Strand 3.2—Decision-making and citizenship skills (a, b, c, d)
  • Strand 4—Personal and civic responsibility (b, c)

Technology Foundation Standards for Students
  • Guidelines for learning:
  • Standard 1: Basic operations and concepts
  • Standard 3: Technology productivity tools
  • Standard 4: Technology communications tools
  • Standard 5: Technology research tools

Materials Needed:
  • What's up in the environment video (optional)
  • Excel (optional)
  • Powerpoint (optional)
  • Word processing software
  • Equipment to document the project for the final assessment, such as cameras, video or tape recorders (optional)
  • Fuel cell kit (optional)
  • Small combustion engine (optional)
  • Log books
  • Chart paper or graph paper or excel for creating the master chart in step 1

School or Group:
Thirteen Ed
Contact Email:
Located in: Science

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