Description:  An Earthship is a passive solar house that is designed to be off the electrical grid. It is generally constructed with natural and recycled materials. Much of the structure of the house is made with recycled tires that are filled with dirt. Thermal mass from the dirt, solar energy from the Sun, and cross-ventilation are used to keep the temperature within the house in a comfortable zone. This phenomenon can be used study thermal energy transfer, energy conservation, and human sustainability.

Web Resource:  Earthship - Wikipedia


Vegetable Oil as Fuel

Description:  Vegetable oil can be used as fuel in both diesel cars and heating oil burners. Reclaimed vegetable oil that is used in food service industries could be used to reduce the amount of fossil fuels that are being used by humans. This phenomenon could be used in an energy unit related to either the physical or life sciences.

Web Resources:  Vegetable Oil Fuel - Wikipedia, Students Power Bus with Vegetable Oil - NBC


Algae Fuel and Food

Description:  Algae food and fuel hope to reduce human dependence on fossil fuels and avert food shortages around the world. Algae fuel works in the same way as fossil fuels but the carbon dioxide released during combustion is carbon taken from the atmosphere in algae photosynthesis. Algae can also be used to create animal feed which currently uses large amounts of soil and water resources. This phenomenon can be use in an energy unit or life science unit related to mass and energy.

Web Resource: Algae Fuel - Wikipedia


Precious Plastic

Description:  Precious Plastics was created in 2013 by Dave Hakkens. It is a website that shares DIY plans for building machines that can recycle plastic. Plastic is recreated through a non-reversible reaction and if it isn't recycled this valuable plastic is often lost forever when it is dumped in a landfill. These plans have spawned a community of DIY plastic recyclers around the world. Even though most students lack the ability to construct these machines it may lead to simple projects like the Ecobricks project linked below.

Web Resources:  Precious Plastic, Ecobricks - plastic, solved


Easter Island Deforestation

Description:  The island of Rapa Nui once supported a large community of Polynesians that are best known for the massive statues (moai) pictured below.  However when sailors arrived on the island in the 18th century the people were barely hanging on.  What is not pictured below are any trees.  Deforestation led to the collapse of this culture.

Web Resource:  How Easter Island Works - How Stuff Works


By Aurbina - Own work, Public Domain, Link