WISE Framework Connections
WISE Activism Ideas
Fuel Cell Lesson Plan Download:

Hydrogen: The Fuel of the Future?
A Fuel Cell is a lot like a typical battery that you would find in a car, cell phone, MP3 player, or laptop –they are both devices in which the energy of a chemical reaction is converted directly into electricity. However, this is where the similarity ends. Conventional batteries use a variety of chemicals like zinc, carbon, lithium, nickel, cadmium and lead to produce a flow of electrons and power their reactions, while a hydrogen fuel cell only uses the smallest atom there is, a hydrogen atom (atomic number 1), and even that has its electron stripped away. Instead of moving big molecules through thick gel-type ‘goo’ like most batteries, fuel cells move nothing but protons and electrons through tiny bubbles of gas. Another large distinction between a battery and a fuel cell is that a fuel cell does not run down or need re-charging, it operates as long as fuel (hydrogen) and an oxidant are supplied continuously from outside the cell. As most of you already know, water can undergo electrolysis to produce hydrogen gas and oxygen gas - well this electrolysis can work the other way as well. If you combine oxygen and hydrogen, you get that energy back (remember our ‘exploding’ water bottle demonstration!!). In a vehicle such as a space shuttle, hydrogen and oxygen are combined and burned. The huge release of chemical energy becomes the spectacular rush of hot expanding gases that force the shuttle skyward. The only by-product is pure water, which the crew uses as drinking water!! In a fuel cell, the idea is to combine hydrogen and oxygen slowly and in such a way that we capture the released chemical energy as electricity.

Connections to the WISE Framework
WISE Issue
Resources/Factors in decision making

Impact of the use of fossil fuels in internal combustion engines on the Environment
STSE Expertise

Environmental and health impacts associated with the use of internal combustion engines in cars and other forms of transportation

Products Expertise

Function of the internal combustion engine

Effects of pollutants in car exhaust

Alternative technologies to the internal combustion engine such as hydrogen fuel cells
Activism Expertise

Assessing the benefits and hazards of a specific technology

Developing and carrying out an action plan
NoST Expertise

Opportunities to explore:
the economic and cultural factors that can influence science and technology
Skills Expertise

Expertise for:
hypothesizing, experimenting, developing prudent conclusions
Project(s) Findings

Results and conclusions from experimental studies on vehicular emissions

WISE Activism Ideas
Activism Ideas
Education campaign e.g. informational brochure or ad on hydrogen fuel cell technology in automobiles

Community change campaign e.g. organizing a “car free day” in the school community, organizing a "No Idling" campaign

Personal lifestyle change e.g. walking, using bicycles when possible