New Year, New Switch Classroom

Mary Tibbets  ·  Switch Energy Alliance
January 10, 2022

Happy New Year, from Switch Energy Alliance! We hope that you were able to take some time over the winter holidays to rest and recharge. 2021 was a year full of challenges, especially for teachers and students. Some went back to school in-person for the first time in a year, some continued to teach or attend school virtually, and some tried to balance doing both. At SEA, part of our mission is to provide an easy-to-use online learning platform with a curriculum that makes learning about energy accessible and engaging, regardless of where it is being used.

In pursuit of that goal, last year we made several improvements to the Switch Classroom platform, including the ability for teachers and students to create accounts using an existing Apple, Google, or Microsoft email address, eliminating the need to remember another username and password. We also made the platform more flexible, allowing teachers to assign only the parts of a lesson they want. Teachers can also now download grades for a single student or an entire class as a spreadsheet, allowing for an easier transfer of grades from our platform to a gradebook. Finally, teachers can send submitted work back to a student with comments, allowing for more dynamic teacher-student communication within the platform itself. These improvements to Switch Classroom and more are detailed in our updated Teacher Guide.

This year, we’ve already made several exciting additions to the Switch Classroom curriculum. We took our celebrated global energy documentary, Switch On, and divided it into a seven-part series, with each episode lasting about a half hour. Now, the Switch On episodes are available on Switch Classroom, along with quizzes to test student understanding of the concepts covered. These episodes and accompanying assessments can be found in the Energy Decisions Unit under Global Challenges: Switch On Episodes

Additionally, in response to teacher requests for more quantitative exercises, we’ve added math activities to several lessons throughout our curriculum. 

  • What Powers the World: Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how much energy they use. This lesson examines energy and electricity usage, as well as how electricity makes everyday activities possible and our daily lives better. Includes the Energy Fundamentals Math Free Response Question activity.
  • The Importance of Storing Energy: There is a basic problem some of the smartest people in the world are trying to solve. This issue is, electricity is generated at the same time people use it. This is a problem because some sources of energy—like solar and wind—may not be available when demand is the highest. They are intermittent. This lesson examines how improved storage capacity would increase efficiency and lower costs, as well as options and challenges to address energy storage at scale. Includes the Energy Storage Math Free Response Question activity.
  • Solar: A Closer Look: Solar energy takes two forms: light and heat. Capturing sunlight and turning it into electricity is what the solar panels on rooftops do. Giant arrays of mirrors on the other hand capture the sun’s heat to create electricity. This lesson examines how these technologies are similar and how they differ and explores what factors go into deciding when solar makes the most sense. Includes the Solar Flux Math Free Response Question activity.
  • Energy Efficiency: Why should society choose to use energy more efficiently? What makes efficiency even more powerful than other new technologies? This lesson examines new ways to use less electricity and explore the impact on emissions, on fuel resources, on the stability of power supplies, and on personal finances. Includes the Sustainability and Conservation Free Response Math Question activity.

We hope you find these improvements and new resources useful as we move into 2022. As always, if you have concerns or feedback, you can reach the Switch Classroom team at classroom.support@switchon.org, and we will respond as soon as possible. We have more exciting updates coming, so be sure to check the blog often for future announcements!

Mary Tibbets, MSc
Manager of Educational Programs
Switch Energy Alliance, Austin, TX

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