Hydrogen Education Curricula for Secondary Schools Under Development

By Mary-Rose Szoka-Valladares, President, M.R.S. Enterprises
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hydrogen Program is committed to educating students about the benefits of hydrogen technologies and the potential of hydrogen as a tool and energy carrier. M.R.S. Enterprises was asked to develop instructional materials and tools for secondary school students for this purpose.

A field test of the Clean Corridor Curriculum (CCC) occurred last year, followed by revisions and preparations for a formal, nationwide field test during the 1999-2000 academic year. (A middle school version of the curriculum also was developed this year, which will be field-tested during academic year 1999-2000.) All curriculum content is reviewed for technical accuracy by the DOE Hydrogen Program and focuses deliberately on the transportation sector (what teenager doesn’t dream of driving?).

The high school Clean Corridor Curriculum covers better than 85 percent of the national standards for chemistry, stressing the fundamentals. This highly flexible, modular curriculum is intended as a complement and enrichment — not a substitute — for traditional science education. Offering more than 75 hours of classroom instruction, it cuts across the sciences, including biology and physics as well as related mathematics. While the curriculum is aimed at first-year high school chemistry students, it is appropriate for technical and honors students as well. The CCC can be used to teach chemistry, physics, biology, earth science, physical science, and environmental science.

The high-school lessons are structured in six modules, which deal with: fundamentals (essentially, a basic chemistry course), production, storage, distribution and safety (covering vital topics of safety and public opinion, such as the Hindenburg), utilization, and Mission H2 scavenger hunts (providing companion lessons for the Mission H2 CD ROM that SENTECH is currently developing [see story]).

The middle school version contains three modules: basics, video-centered lessons built around Renewable Energy: Earth’s Clean Energy Destiny, and “A Pollution Solution?” scenario.

Lessons are structured according to the Constructivist philosophy of education, sometimes referred to as “the learning cycle.” Teachers may elect to teach the CCC in its entirety, on a modular or as-needed basis, or to teach the CCC final project, Hydrogen Filling Station, on a stand-alone basis. (Meritorious projects may be submitted to a DOE sponsored national competition called the Hy-Tec Competition. Winning entries will be posted on our website).

To enhance these materials, M.R.S. also is developing videos which may also be used outside the classroom for informal education purposes (listed are working titles only). Red Thunder is a video that uses our remote-control fuel cell car, Red Thunder, to engage students in learning about hydrogen and hydrogen-powered technologies. Beakman on Hydrogen is tentatively planned to introduce and communicate the basics about hydrogen and fuel cell technology. The Dr. Bob Show, featuring Dr. Robert Reeves, captures highlights of the Secondary School Invitational held at the NHA’s 1999 Annual U.S. Hydrogen Meeting; it will soon air on a metropolitan Washington, D.C. [U.S.A.], cable TV station.

Live Science Shows

Through M.R.S. Enterprises efforts, the DOE/NHA Secondary School Invitational, which debuted in 1997 as the Dr. Bob Show, has become a feature attraction of NHA’s Annual U.S. Hydrogen Meeting. Each year, metropolitan area secondary school students have been invited to participate in this day-long event which features a presentation by Dr. Robert Reeves (“Dr. Bob”) and Jon Hurwitch (of SENTECH and the NHA Board). It includes an opportunity to experience “hands-on” learning in the Dr. Bob Laboratory, the NHA trade show, and a variety of special interactive exhibits in the “Learning Center.” NREL and Sandia scientists and industry practitioners staff the Center. A panel called COOL, Career Opportunities of a Lifetime, was initiated to introduce students to practitioners of science and engineering. For the past two years, we have successfully taken the live Dr. Bob Show to a metropolitan area middle school. Feedback from administrators attributes improved science test scores to our appearance.

On a final note, M.R.S. Enterprises is proud to report that it received the prestigious NHA Public Education award at the 10th Anniversary Conference this year [1999] for the DOE/NHA Secondary School Invitational.

Please call Mary-Rose Szoka-Valladares at +1.301.530.6591 for further information on the curricula.

©1999. All Rights Reserved. A Publication of the National Hydrogen Association.
This material may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

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