Assessing Chicago's Carbon Footprint One Step at a Time

byTaissa Lau

Carbon dioxide emissions have been on the rise since the Industrial Revolution and the invention of the steam engine. Scientists almost inarguably agree that there is a correlation between carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. Without incorporating mitigation techniques and strategies, the world as we know it could suffer drastic consequences by the end of this century due to these greenhouse gas emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels. In this curriculum unit, my goal is to introduce energy principles, energy sources and implications for the environment from using those sources. Specifically, the unit focuses on carbon dioxide emissions, evaluating current uses of energy and proposals to reduce environmental impacts from those uses.

The unit starts by introducing students to energy in its different forms: kinetic energy and potential energy in addition to the forms that fall into those categories. It then progresses to understanding the behavior of energy through conservation and transformation. Students must understand these behaviors in order to understand how humans harness energy from different sources. The unit will also introduce nonrenewable and renewable sources of energy to students to complement how humans use energy. After understanding the sources of energy, students dive deeper into exploring the greenhouse effect and carbon dioxide emissions caused from harnessing energy from fossil fuels. The unit culminates with students assessing Chicago’s carbon dioxide emissions, researching the current energy policy proposals and assessing their effectiveness in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

(This unit was developed for Physical Science and Earth Science, grade 8.)

(Developed for Physical Science, grade 8; recommended for Earth and Space Science, grades 6-8)

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