Investigating Renewable Energy and Sustainability (Prim-Ed)

Being green has never been more important.  It is often said that the companies who will become the most successful in the world will be those who focus on renewable energy and other environmentally friendly business plans.  The Irish curriculum does a reasonable job in supporting this with both the Science and Geography curricula focusing on full curriculum strands on the environment.  Educate Together schools dedicate a full quarter of their ethics curriculum to the environment.

Investigating Renewable Energy and Sustainability consists of 37 lessons aimed at 5th and 6th class.  The lessons are divided into 6 sections, mainly focusing on a particular type of energy, e.g. Hydropower, Solar Energy, etc.

Relevance to curriculum aims: 4/5

This book certainly follows the guidelines of Science and Geography and they are listed on page “X” of the book.  This book clearly wasn’t aimed at the Irish market originally so the aims are more suited to the UK and adapted to our curriculum.  I was a little bit disappointed that one of the book’s aims is to use comprehension skills for non-fiction, which is an aim of the English curriculum.  For me, a book about Renewable Energy should not be full of English comprehension questions.  I feel it should be more about exploring the concepts rather than simply reading the text and answering questions about it.

Teacher usability: 4/5

Prim-Ed have a good format.  Like most of their books each lesson takes two pages.  The first page is for the teacher and the second is a worksheet for the lesson.  It couldn’t be much more usable. The teacher section in this book is a little bit sparse in most places due to the large amount of comprehension style worksheets.  I also think an accompanying CD-ROM or web site with links to videos of these energies in use would make the programme a little more real to the children using it.

Value for money: 2/5

At €22.95, this book is about average for Prim-Ed’s photocopiable resources.  In this case, I’m not sure I’d be willing to spend this amount of money on what is mainly a comprehension workbook.  I think if it used in conjunction with a project on certain renewable energies, it might have some benefit and be worth the money.

Extras: 0/5

There aren’t any extras with this programme.  An electronic version of the worksheets would be a welcome addition.  Links to videos or simulations of these energies would have been useful.

With a little bit more imagination, I think this book could have become a staple for any senior classroom.  There are not enough practical lessons in the book, with too many comprehension-style lessons throughout it.  Some of the practical lessons are good – for example the solar oven is quite good.I was really looking forward to the “getting energy from rubbish” lesson. However, I was disappointed by it, in the end.

Overall, if this book were to impress me on scale of wind energy, I’m afraid it hasn’t succeeded as I’m not particularly blown away.

Score: 10/20

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