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Alternative Energy Report

School: Vergennes Union Middle School

City/State: Vergennes, VT

Grade(s): 7, 8

Format(s): Report: Science

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Technology

Project Overview

This report was created by 7th and 8th grade students from the Vergennes Union Middle School in Vergennes, Vermont as part of a Learning expedition called “Reducing the Carbon Footprint.”

The larger learning expedition was an attempt to help the middle school/high school reduce its carbon footprint by determining the amount of energy used on a yearly basis. The building manager met with a team of approximately 40 students as they investigated alternative energy sources for the school.

To investigate their questions, students researched an existing school or institute in Vermont, which used one of the class’s assigned alternative energy sources, in order to learn about the implementation process. Students worked in groups and were responsible for creating pertinent questions, based on their stated objectives, to include in an interview of the site’s building manager and, if a school, the building principal. Utilizing their training from a professional videographer, students videotaped their visit and interview. They looked at the costs and benefits of each energy source and energy-saving technology.

The students compiled their findings into this report; all groups were responsible for completing a section. Students presented their findings and made a recommendation to the school board as to which alternative energy source would best suit their site. The presentation was open to the public and included student findings regarding the science behind the technology, a cost benefit analysis, the steps necessary to implement the sources, and the advantages or disadvantages of each of the sources: wind turbine, solar panels, biomass furnace, or a methane digester.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Brilliant example of using students to do vital work – assessing the energy status of the school building and the costs and benefit of adjustments to energy sources or energy-saving techniques – why have adults do this work when students are capable, invested and can become agents for positive change
  • Clear example that the capacity of students is often underestimated
  • Great local focus to meet broader state standards regarding energy
  • Demonstrates in-depth investigation that brought together the independent research of multiple small groups
  • An example of a highly pertinent and relevant investigation – one with potentially important economic implications
  • Demonstrates a high quality report, with carefully written and detailed information
  • Exemplifies a project and product with an inherent audience – the school community
  • Highlights a project that had extensive fieldwork with outside experts
  • Highlights a localized and service-based means for studying energy sources and carbon footprints
  • Highlights a cross grade-level project – students from multiple classes in two grades engaged in producing one product

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and concepts using relevant information that is carefully selected and organized.
  • I can use a standard format for citation.
  • I can select evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection and research.
  • I can use correct grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • I can use correct capitalization, punctuation and spelling to send a clear message to my reader.
  • I can use resources to build my vocabulary.
  • I can use resources to build my vocabulary.
  • I can estimate and compute in my head to determine whether an answer makes sense.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
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