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Idea Bank: Asking Authentic Questions with Tangible Consequences

The Science Teacher—April/May 2007

For physics teachers, it seems irresponsible to teach energy without asking students hard, relevant questions such as, “What will we do when oil becomes prohibitively expensive?” Therefore, in the fall of 2005, the author asked senior-level physics students to identify some energy-related problems within the community to solve as a class. Even though they came up with excellent ideas, the suggestions were a bit too complicated and expensive. Eventually, with help from other faculty, they came up with a suitable project: Students would research options for a renewable onsite power source for the new water pump they would soon buy for their school’s greenhouse. Through a collaborative effort with local members of the community and school personnel, students’ utilized science process skills to embark upon this exciting project.
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