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Students engage in this brief activity at the start of a module on fossil energy and power generation with no advance notice. They are first asked to form pairs or groups of three (in a large lecture hall, students usually work with adjacent classmates) and to take out a blank sheet of paper. The instructor asks the students to consider the lowly 110-V wall socket: it provides electrical power for their appliances-- but do they know, and can they show, where that power comes from? Without elaboration, they are asked to trace its source as far back as they can envision. If necessary, the instructor can give the basic procedure for concept sketching (after Johnson & Reynolds 2005): list what they know, depict their ideas in an organized sketch, and annotate all of the components with descriptive phrases or short sentences. The class is informed that the sketches will be collected for participation credit. Artistic quality is not required or expected, but students are encouraged to make their sketches as detailed as they can, perhaps for additional credit. Each group may designate one student to sketch, but all members must contribute their ideas. After about 10 minutes or a noticeable decrease in conversation volume, and if time and logistics permit, the instructor may ask some or all of the groups to present their sketches to the class for review and discussion. (To facilitate this, groups may instead be given transparencies and markers and use an overhead projector.) Each student is reminded to put her or his name on the sketch before it is submitted. After the activity is complete, the instructor may present his or her own version of this concept sketch (illustrating the present-day local or national energy mix; an example is attached here), or simply proceed into a lecture presentation or discussion on the topic of energy. Students may also be directed to research the electrical power grid or the national energy mix as a homework assignment.
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