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Think big

  • Key Stage 3
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Case study
Topic: Building materials

Students become members of a consultancy firm which specialises in sustainable building projects. They have to use their knowledge of materials and physical processes to explain and justify a range of different and alternative building techniques. This activity shows applications of energy to sustainable building and illustrates various career routes possible.

Get involved: Bespoke STEM careers CPD workshops are available in school – please contact the STEM Careers project at: [email protected]

Published: 19th April 2010
Reviews & Comments: 1

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Learning objectives

Students learn to weigh up the benefits and drawbacks of different building technologies and materials.

Try the activity

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S3 National Curriculum
Key Concepts: Applications and implications of science
1.2 (a) Exploring how the creative application of scientific ideas can bring about technological developments
Key Processes: Critical understanding of evidence
2.3 (a) Use appropriate methods, including ICT, to communicate scientific information and contribute to presentations and discussions about scientific issues.
Range and Content
1. Energy, electricity and forces
(a) Energy can be transferred usefully, stored, or dissipated, but cannot be created or destroyed.
4. The environment, Earth and universe
(c) Human activity and natural processes can lead to changes in the environment.
Personal learning and thinking skills
Teamwork – work together to review information, develop ideas and decide how these can be applied in a real life context.
Creativity – use existing scientific knowledge together with new information to come up with creative and innovative ideas

Running the activity

Discussion and research linked to ideas about sustainability.
Build it Green (BiG) Consultants are a firm working in the field of sustainable building. They are considering the use of straw bale building as part of the portfolio of methods they recommend. Pupils are asked to consider this and then other building methods and make recommendations, supported by scientific information, in relation to three ‘projects’ that the company are working on.
Introducing the Task
The pupils work in small teams considering initially the possible benefits of various building techniques and then looking at how these could be applied to a range of projects. They are asked to present and justify their views and findings to the firm’s ‘clients’.
· Organise the pupils to work in teams of four.
· Use the Stimulus page – BiG Consultants to introduce the context and move on to the Task sheet – Building with straw the linked Information sheet to help review the pupils’ views from their discussions.
· Move on to the activity which introduces a range of other eco-friendly building materials (Task sheet – Other eco-friendly building materials), again giving the teams time to discuss their views on each and, if wished, allow the pupils time to develop these with appropriate internet research (see sheet Researching eco-friendly building for some websites). Emphasise the need to support views with scientific information. Review this task using the linked Information sheet.
· Pupils move on to consider three projects that the BiG consultancy firm are advising on using Task sheet – Working on BiG projects. Individual teams could work on just one project. The pupils should be allowed time to consider their views based on the ideas discussed so far and to extend these further using internet research (see sheet Researching eco-friendly building for some websites). At this stage the idea of possibly including small scale energy generation in individual buildings is included. Each team should then prepare a brief presentation (which could be supported by powerpoints etc.) about their recommendations based on their research. This could be made to the rest of the class or to appropriate visitors invited into the classroom.
· Teachers may like to cut the researching eco-friendly materials information sheet into cards to support less fluent readers and ease access to information.

News links

Industrial Trust
Arrange a visit to a local building or site that is using eco-friendly building materials or saving energy via the Industrial Trust.
Green Day activity
Use the downloadable Green Day activity produced by the Commission for the Built Environment (CABE) as well as their other design resources.
Barbara Jones
Find out about Barbara Jones who won a Women of Outstanding Achievement Award form the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) in 2009 - along with other women in SET. Barbara runs Amazonails.
This is the careers site of Constructionskills to find out about all construction careers.
Eden Project
Draw on the Eden Project Online Resource called Real Cool Futures that has a range of eco-friendly people talking about their work.

Media links

Jo's case study
There a not many women working in the built environment - find out why. Watch the case study about Jo who works to save energy on Olympic buildings for London in 2012.

Reviews & Comments

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Sep 24th, 2012

5 Star

Excellent activity. The estudents are interesting

Reviewer: Olivia Rodríguez


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