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Las Vegas Energy Project

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Innovative Teaching in Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.840.1 - 9.840.23



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Paper Authors

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Nicholas Harth

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Matthew Barber

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Andrew Spurgeon

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract


Las Vegas Energy Project An environmental investigation for the ninth grade science class

Matthew G. Barbera, Nicholas B. Harthb a Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering b Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science College of Engineering University of Cincinnati

Abstract As part of a National Science Foundation grant at the University of Cincinnati, a project focusing on environmental issues and engineering impact was implemented in two high school classrooms, one urban and one suburban, in the Cincinnati area. The students, working in groups, demonstrated an understanding of energy sources and the effects of those sources on the community. Each group’s goal was to convince the “Las Vegas City Council,” composed of teachers and university faculty, to choose the type of power plant assigned to that group to be built near Las Vegas. The arguments for each type of plant were communicated in a presentation with visual aids and in a written report.

This paper describes the scope and sequence of the project including specific lesson plans, timelines, evaluation rubrics for student work, and associated Ohio academic science content standards. An evaluation of the success of the project is also discussed, with emphasis on differences in student performance between the two schools. By comparing teaching methods (individual styles), students’ work, and attitudinal surveys completed by students after the implementation of the project, insights can be made into the factors that influenced the motivation level and quality of the work of the students involved. Particular note is made of how best to implement this project, or a similar one, in other classrooms.

1. Introduction

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of undergraduate engineering degrees has been decreasing over the last decade [1]. It is vital to stem that trend and encourage junior high and high school students to actively pursue futures in technological fields. With this mission as a part of its mandate, Project STEP, short for Science and Technology Enhancement Program, was conceived of at the University of Cincinnati (UC).

Project STEP is a National Science Foundation funded GK-12 program at UC which involves graduate and undergraduate Fellows, secondary science and mathematics teachers, University of Cincinnati faculty and a graphics/web developer, working in teams to design, develop, and implement hands-on activities and technology-driven inquiry-based projects which relate to the students' community issues, as vehicles to teach science and math skills [2]. Activities are incorporated into lessons, demonstrations, laboratory exercises, individual and group projects, and field experiences to enable

Harth, N., & Barber, M., & Spurgeon, A. (2004, June), Las Vegas Energy Project Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13804

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