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Author

MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative

Grades

9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College

Subjects

Science, Physics

Resource Types

  • Podcasts, 13 minutes, 31 seconds
  • Interactive Media
  • Worksheets
  • Lesson Plans
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables

Regional Focus

Global

Format

PDF

Electric Vehicles and Climate Change

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Synopsis
  • This lesson allows students to investigate where their electricity comes from, the effects of gas-powered vehicles on our health and the planet, and how we can help reduce emissions by making the switch to electric cars for most situations.
  • The lesson includes a short podcast, teacher pages and resources, student worksheets, brief readings, investigation activities, a group project, and an analysis of charts and maps to establish why electric cars are an important climate solution.
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • The resource includes all teaching materials, an educator's guide on how to use the activities, and resource links for additional information.
  • The Air Pollutants Communication Project allows students to apply their knowledge in the real world by creating a communication plan to encourage solutions for improving air quality at their school.
  • Each section can be used as a standalone or in sequence.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The first two activities require access to the internet.
  • The Air Pollutants Communication Project tiny URL link is broken, so use this link instead.
  • Students should be comfortable with reading charts and graphs.

Differentiation

  • The first activity includes a glossary on the website and activity sheet for students unfamiliar with certain terms.
  • Students could research the total emissions and costs of the different vehicles if we counted the footprint of the production of the cars. The last section of this resource only evaluates the cost and emissions once the vehicles are in use.
  • This resource can also be used in language arts classes during lessons about communicating complex scientific topics and the importance of climate solutions.
  • Health classes can make connections using this resource when discussing health conditions such as asthma, COPD, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Additional resources include this activity on comparing gas and electric vehicles and this reading comprehension activity on electric cars.
Scientist Notes
This resource provides students with sources and tools to understand the promise and limitations of electric vehicles. The 10-page student handout is well-sourced and provides numerous opportunities for students to interact with energy, fuel efficiency, and CO2 emissions data. Resources are provided from MIT, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the EPA that help students understand the makeup of our electrical grid and the potential climate and environmental benefits of electric cars. A communication project is also included to give students a chance to affect change in their communities. (The only issue in this entire resource is one broken link on page 8 of the student pages. Just remove ‘1’ from the end of the URL at the top of the page and it will work). Put succinctly, this resource informs students of electric vehicles in a meaningful way and is recommended for teaching.
Standards
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-3 Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.9 Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.
  • National Health Education Standards
    • Standard 2: Students will analyze the influence of family, peers, culture, media, technology, and other factors on health behaviors.
      • 2.12.10 Analyze how public health policies and government regulations can influence health promotion and disease prevention.
    • Standard 8: Students will demonstrate the ability to advocate for personal, family, and community health.
      • 8.12.3 Work cooperatively as an advocate for improving personal, family, and community health.
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