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Energy Exploration

This quarter in our theme time, the Clubhouse has been diving into the essential question “how do energy sources impact natural and human systems?” As part of our preliminary content injection, students spent time exploring how various forms of renewable energy are harnessed and converted into electricity.

Originally, we began this content injection by having an educator-led lecture, followed by discussion and debrief with the students; however, as we continued on we decided to pass the onus of teaching and learning onto the students. Groups were tasked with finding an informative video on YouTube for a specific source of renewable energy. The goal was to have students find the best informative video to share with the class and to have evidence that this video was the best based on a rubric of their own design. Students assessed each video’s level of engagement, possible bias, and overall trustworthiness.

As the students dove into the research and the assessment of their sources, it became clear that several lessons were being learned simultaneously. To start, students were acquiring digital literacy as they worked to navigate digital media responsibly and with intention.

Furthermore, students utilized the Communication Literacy toolkit in several ways. They used persuasion with their partners to negotiate scores for each video according to the rubric. They also learned how to verify information by examining multiple sources and how to determine an author’s perspective. And perhaps most important was the experience students gained in citing evidence for their conclusions. For example, one student defended his claim that a video was fairly biased due to the use of a slogan and company logo. This led him to believe that the video was produced by a business that might stand to profit from swaying the views of the audience.

In the end, learning about how solar or geothermal energy works became a convenient byproduct of a larger lesson in how to be a conscientious consumer of information. Had we not shifted the locus of control from the educator to the student, then this multilateral learning could not have taken place and student engagement would have been stifled. All in all, these lessons guided students in acquiring skills like critical thinking that transcend the memorization of facts about energy and that can be transferred universally.

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