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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Transportation Fuels: The Future is Today

Lesson Description:
This teacher guide provides extensive background information on transportation fuels to help your students learn about conventional and alternative transportation fuels by evaluating their advantages and disadvantages. In addition, there are six suggested activities:
  • Learning about transportation fuels
  • Conducting research on transportation fuels
  • Write papers on the fuel choices
  • Develop a plan for a city to reduce emissions from their vehicles
  • Teaching others about transportation fuels
  • Calculating payback periods

Lesson Type:
  • Project
  • Other

Sustainability Topic:
  • Energy
  • Waste Reduction
  • Other

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Energy Challenge

Time Needed:
Two class periods
Standards Addressed:
Intermediate (Grades 4-8) Standard E: Science and Technology
  • Abilities of technological design
    • Identify appropriate problems for technological design.
    • Design a solution or product.
    • Implement a proposed design.
    • Evaluate completed technological designs or products.
    • Communicate the process of technological design.
  • Understandings about Science and Technology
    • Technological solutions are temporary and have side effects. technologies cost, carry risks, and have benefits.
    • Perfectly designed solutions do not exist. all technological solutions have trade-offs, such as safety, cost, efficiency, and appearance. Risk is part of living in a highly technological world. reducing risk often results in new technology.

Intermediate-F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
  • Natural Hazards
    • Human activities can induce hazards through resource acquisition, urban growth, land-use decisions, and waste
    • disposal.
    • Hazards can present personal and societal challenges because misidentifying the change or incorrectly estimating
    • the rate and scale of change may result in either too little attention and significant human costs or too much cost
    • for unneeded preventive measures.
  • Risks and Benefits:
    • Students should understand the risks associated with natural hazards, chemical hazards, biological hazards, social
    • hazards, and personal hazards.
    • Students can use a systematic approach to thinking critically about risks and benefits.
    • Important personal and social decisions are made based on perceptions of benefits and risks.
  • Science and Technology in Society:
    • Science influences society through its knowledge and world view. the effect of science on society is neither entirely
    • beneficial nor entirely detrimental.
    • Societal challenges often inspire questions for scientific research, and societal priorities often influence research
    • priorities.
    • Technology influences society through its products and processes. technological changes are often accompanied
    • by social, political, and economic changes that can be beneficial or detrimental to individuals and to society.
    • social needs, attitudes, and values influence the direction of technological development.
    • Science and technology have contributed enormously to economic growth and productivity among societies and
    • groups within societies.
    • Science cannot answer all questions and technology cannot solve all human problems or meet all human needs. Students should appreciate what science and technology can reasonably contribute to society and what they cannot do. For example, new technologies often will decrease some risks and increase others.

Secondary (Grades 9-12) Standard E: Science and Technology
  • Abilities of technological design
    • Identify a problem or design an opportunity.
    • Propose designs and choose between alternative solutions.
    • Implement a proposed solution.
    • Evaluate the solution and its consequences.
    • Communicate the problem, process, and solution.

Secondary-F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
  • Natural Resources
    • Human populations use resources in the environment to maintain and improve their existence.
    • The earth does not have infinite resources; increasing human consumption places severe stress on the natural processes that renew some resources, and depletes those resources that cannot be renewed.
    • Humans use many natural systems as resources. natural systems have the capacity to reuse waste but that capacity is limited. natural systems can change to an extent that exceeds the limits of organisms to adapt naturally or humans to adapt technologically.
  • Environmental Quality
    • Many factors influence environmental quality. Factors that students might investigate include population growth, resource use, population distribution, overconsumption, the capacity of technology to solve problems, poverty, the role of economic, political, and religious views, and different ways humans view the earth.
  • Natural and Human-Induced Hazards
    • Human activities can enhance potential for hazards. acquisition of resources, urban growth, and waste disposal can
    • accelerate rates of natural change.
    • Natural and human-induced hazards present the need for humans to assess potential danger and risk. Many changes in the environment designed by humans bring benefits to society, as well as cause risks. students should understand the costs and trade-offs of various hazards--ranging from those with minor risk to a few people to major catastrophes with major risk to many people.
  • Science and Technology in Local, National, and Global Challenges
    • Understanding basic concepts and principles of science and technology should precede active debate about the economics, policies, politics, and ethics of various science and technology related challenges. However, understanding science alone will not resolve local, national, and global challenges

Materials Needed:
  • Handouts included
  • Other materials vary by activity

School or Group:
Contact Email:
Lesson Documents:
application/pdf Future%20Is%20Today.pdf

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