Integrating Energy, Equity, and Place in High School Physics

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Energy in its material and social context - Power plants

Power plants have tremendous social significance both locally and globally. This paper considers the energy dynamics of two electrical power production facilities: (1) the largest coal-fired electrical power production facility in the US, and (2) one of the facilities that provides significant electrical power to the authors. We suggest an analysis that includes the relationships between the power plant and the surrounding human, plant, and animal communities, as well as lands, waters, and air. We model an approach to energy learning that begins to prepare students to engage in ethical decision making about energy resources.

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Energy is a foundational concept of physics and plays an integral role in a web of sociocultural realities, economic issues, and public policies. The Energy and Equity Portal supports high school teachers in teaching a robust model of energy, grounded in the NGSS, and also intentionally constructed to support engagement with current sociopolitical issues.

Using the resources and community provided in the Portal, teachers explore energy learning as a means for promoting discussions of energy justice and energy equity globally and in our local communities. By developing a model of energy in physics that is fully aware of how science is sociocultural, teachers and students create science concepts informed by their cultural worlds and educational priorities. Check out the classroom-ready teaching tools and enjoy a dynamic and compassionate professional learning community!

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