Facilitating understanding for the way energy works through stories, play and image
Energy in general and renewables especially are a fascinating subject. Also young kids in primary school can comprehend the power of energy, if explained with simple metaphors and images. And easily-bored youngsters get excited over chemical and physical processes, if the connection to real-life applications, e.g. in hydrogen storage or fuel cell electrive vehicles and their contribution to combatting climate change is made. ‘Discover the energy of hydrogen’ – that is the claim and scope of the toolkit developed by FCHgo.
The FCHgo toolkit aims at translating simple energy principles for primary school children (age 8-13) and the opportunities of hydrogen and fuel cell technology for secondary school children (age 14-18) into ready-to-teach materials, plays and tools for inspiring lessons.
You can download the first version of the materials, which has been tested in the FCHgo classroom activities, below.
Introduction to Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technology
What it is: For teachers and everyone interested in learning more about fuel cells and hydrogen, this comprehensive guide introduces the main principles of FCH technology, using simple language and pictures. The explanations exemplify the approach of FCHgo to teaching energy.
Key data: The document is about 30 pages.
Comprehensive teacher guides on FCHgo lessons
The FCHgo toolkit materials described in the following are part of a didactic concept for interactive lessons on energy and FCH developed by the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, the Nicolaus Copernicus University Torun and the Technical University of Denmark. The content of the materials as well as the outline of the lessons are a result of many year’s research on the impact of using narrative and metaphors in teaching. The teacher guides below describe an exemplary educational path employing the FCHgo materials the best way possible.
Download the teacher guides below.
Teaching materials, suited particularly for kids age 8-13
The Apple Story
What it is: A simple illustrated story about the use and transformation of energy in an apple tree. A small girl experiences the magic transformation of blossom to fruit by observing how the tree uses water, air, and sunlight to let apples grow.
How it works in lessons: The story is told by teachers and discussed and played out together with pupils; older students read the story themselves. With help of the story pupils understand the analogy between energy transmissions from tree to human body via apples and from tank to motion in a car via fuel.
Key data: The story is 10 pages long and comes with instructions for teachers. For telling and discussing the story about 1-1,5 hours are needed.
The Perpetuum Mobile movie
What it is: A short, animated movie telling the story of an inventor trying to create a perpetuum mobile consisting of solar cells, pumps, water wheel, and generator. Imaginative ‘spirits’ – funny looking figures – represent forces of nature carrying energy from interaction to interaction. The movie was developed by artist Marion Deichmann and is used within FCHgo lessons to demonstrate the principle of energy to children.
How it works in lessons: Pupils watch the video and analyze together with their teacher the transformation and exchange of energy between the spirits. They learn the name of the ‘spirits’ and observe that the system only works, if energy is sustained by the sun and heat can escape to the environment.
Key data: The video is 5:14 minutes long and originally in German with English, Italian and Polish subtitles. Instructions for teachers are provided; screening and discussing the video takes about 0,5-0,75 hours.
Energy role plays
What it is: Ideas for different role-plays in which students act as energy carriers (sun, electricity, heat, hydrogen) and film their performances.
How it works in lessons: Pupils write a script for their own energy story; they dramatize for example the processes happening in a fuel cell car. This playful approach allows them to experience natural and technical processes with their own bodies.
Key data: The material comprises instructions for teachers and a worksheet for pupils. Implementation of plays with recording and screening in class is for 1,5-2,5 hours/lessons.
Analysis of Models/Toys
What it is: Kids examine and compare different toys respective models, for example, a dynamo torch (crank flashlight) and a fuel cell model car, using the work sheet provided by FCHgo. Teachers also receive instructions for the lesson.
How it works in lessons: Pupils explore each model in groups and describe how it works, before comparing the two models. They describe analogies and differences of processes that are going on in the two models.
Key data: The material comprises instructions for teachers and a worksheet for pupils. Models must be provided by schools. The model analysis takes about 1 hour.
Energy playing cards
What it is: A set of playing cards to ‘play through’ energy chains in games of domino and speed. The set contains cards for every main energy carrier, including hydrogen. Every card displays a specific intensity to indicate the energy content of the carrier.
How it works in lessons: Kids play different card games, e.g. domino or find the energy carrier, according to instructions and learn about the way energy carriers and exchangers are interconnected.
Key data: 15 energy carrier cards; introducing and playing with the cards is for 1 hour.
PowerPoint presentations for pupils age 13-18
To help teachers discussing Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technology with older pupils, FCHgo partners UMK and DTU developed a set of PowerPoint presentations. They provide pupils with facts and background knowledge about climate change, alternative energies and introduce to electrochemistry taking the example of Volta’s pile. Also, different applications of fuel cells and hydrogen, e.g. in mobility, are highlighted. By covering social, ecological and technical aspects of the energy transition, the presentations foster comprehensive understanding of the issue and prepare pupils for exploring energy science and technologies themselves.
Overview of PowerPoint presentations and complementary lesson guides
1) Climate change: why it is urgent to stop burning carbon and hydrocarbons
Watch the video lesson ‘Effetto Serra’ in Italian
2) Alternative energies: why the choice of alternative (i.e. renewable) energy “sources” is not easy and different in every country
Watch the video lesson ‘Energie Alternative’ in Italian
3) Volta’s pile: A prototype of all electrochemical energy “sources”, still in use around the globe
Watch the video lesson ‘Pila di Volta’ in Italian
4) Hydrogen fuel cell: Its principle of operation, construction details, implementations and open problems
Watch the video lesson ‘Celle all’idrogeno’ in Italian
5) Energy: what does energy transformation mean and why we cannot “create” energy
Watch the video lesson ‘Energia’ in Italian
The FCHgo Toolkit genesis – Background on the process
Developing the teaching materials of the toolkit was a joint effort of FCHgo partners – mainly UNIMORE, ZHAW, UMK and DTU -, teachers, didactic and FCH tech experts. It started with co-creation workshops in March 2019, at which the just mentioned stakeholders provided a first feedback to the materials envisaged for the FCHgo toolkit. Teachers then tested first versions of the toolkit at training workshops in autumn 2019. This cycle of iteration between development and feedback culminated with the actual and first implementation of the materials during pilot lessons concluded in February 2020. We published a first story about the pilot lessons in Switzerland here.