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International 2011 Materials Education Symposium

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Sustainable Education Resources for Schools

Dr Hugh Shercliff | University of Cambridge

Sustainable Education Resources for Schools

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The sustainability content of many university Engineering and Materials courses is steadily increasing. There is clearly demand from current undergraduates to study the production and use of energy and materials, renewable energy, and low carbon technology. But engagement with school audiences is equally important on these issues. This talk will describe recent work with the objective of supporting schools and teachers with this challenge, both within the curriculum (e.g. science and geography courses) and in extra-curricular activities (such as "Eco-Schools"). David Mackay's stimulating book "Sustainable Energy - without the hot air" is a timely contribution to education in this area, as is Mike Ashby's "Materials and the Environment". Both emphasise the need for accessible, quantitative assessment of energy balances or CO2 implications - whether analysing the potential of renewable energy technologies, or conducting life cycle analysis of products. Our goal has been to adapt the methodologies of these books for a secondary school audience, developing and testing online resources. The presentation will include examples of the practical steps being taken by some UK schools to tackle their carbon footprint, and the potential use of "eco-data" by the students themselves to quantify their effectiveness.