Challenges and Successes of Transferring Internship Experiences

July 21st, 2017 by Jen Cypra

My experiences at the Environmental Protection Agency over the last few weeks have been educational and eye-opening. It has been a fantastic learning experience for me. Trying to process all of the information and convert that into lessons that I can use with elementary school children has been exciting and challenging. My biggest challenge has been trying to narrow down and focus on one aspect for my product when there are so many fascinating and applicable topics from which to choose. I chose the lesson that focuses on the work that the EPA is doing in conjunction with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. The scientists test cookstoves as part of a global effort to reduce pollution and lessen the health issues caused by smoke and pollutants emitted from the open flames and stoves currently used worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates four million deaths worldwide linked to this problem.

My challenge has been to create a lesson that will teach elementary students about this issue in an engaging way.  Connecting this to social studies and learning about other cultures is an important aspect of understanding about the cookstove issues.  I also realized that students needed to learn a bit about air quality as part of the lesson.  I wanted the lesson to have an optional engineering design aspect and struggled to find one that would complement the other aspects of the lessons.  I have worked with teachers on the solar oven activity where students create an oven to cook s’mores, usually to teach the topic of heat transfer.  I felt that using that activity as an extension of this lesson would complement the topic by allowing students to create their own clean energy cookstove. My feeling of success lies in the fact that I believe this is an important issue and a wonderful example for children to see how scientists and organizations around the world can work together to try to solve a problem.

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