Hidden energy of the technology world

Explore what tech companies are doing and learn how to discern true corporate commitment to a sustainable, low carbon future.

  • Grade 10
  • 2 activities
  • 2 hours
Lesson Image

Big idea

Science 10

Energy is conserved, and its transformation can affect living things and the environment. 


Technology Explorations 10

Social, ethical, and sustainability considerations impact design. 


Composition 10 

Language shapes ideas and influences others.


Entrepreneurship and Marketing 10 

Social, ethical, and sustainability considerations impact design and decision making.


Learning objectives

  • Understand different ways technology uses energy when moving and storing data. 
  • Demonstrate critical thinking as they present their arguments in an opinion piece.
  • Apply a critical lens to company claims of sustainability, using research and reasoning skills. 


Activities

Background info

Hidden energy

Each day we charge our devices so we can use apps and create social media posts, often without considering that these apps, posts, and data storage use energy to take a physical journey around the world. In addition, data is kept in mega data storage centres where it is saved, processed, and the data and apps disseminated. Often the energy source used in this process is fossil fuels. 


Data centres

Hyperscale data centres are being built all around the world and contain IT products and tens of thousands of servers and hardware. This is in part a response to a rapid growth in cloud computing, SaaS (software as a service where software is licensed on a subscription basis and centrally hosted), e-commerce, gaming and video services. Many large tech companies, owning and operating these hyperscale data centres, are responding to the climate crisis with commitments to use green energy and sustainable business practices. 


Smart sustainability

With the increase in information flow and connectivity in our world, we need to be discerning about how to interpret the information. Greenwashing is when a business makes incorrect or misleading claims about its sustainable initiatives. But many companies are honestly striving to be sustainable by switching to renewable energy sources and adopting other sustainable practices. The challenge is to differentiate between the two. A sustainable company will share proof to support its sustainability claims and targets and will be transparent and honest about its progress in reaching these targets. 


Assessments

  • Assess students’ understanding of the energy used by large data centres and the need for tech companies to commit to a low carbon future. 
  • Assess students’ critical thinking and reasoning as they present their arguments in their opinion piece.
  • Assess students’ ability to apply an analytical lens to company claims of sustainability.

BC curriculum fit

Science 10

Big ideas and content

  • Energy is conserved, and its transformation can affect living things and the environment
  • Local and global impacts of energy transformations from technologies

Curricular competencies

Questioning and predicting
  • Demonstrate a sustained intellectual curiosity about a scientific topic or problem of personal interest 
Communicating: 
  • Communicate scientific ideas, claims, information, and perhaps a suggested course of action, for a specific purpose and audience


Socials 10

Content

  • Environmental, political & economic policies: environmental issues including climate change and renewable energy 

Curricular competencies

  • Use Social Studies inquiry processes and skills to ask questions; gather, interpret, and analyze ideas and data; and communicate findings and decisions


Technology Explorations 10

Big ideas and content

  • Social, ethical, and sustainability considerations impact design.
  • Alternate energy sources

Curricular competencies

Applied design - Ideating
  • Critically analyze and prioritize competing factors to meet community needs for preferred futures


Composition 10

Big ideas and content

  • Language shapes ideas and influences others
  • Writing processes

Curricular competencies

Comprehend and connect: 
  • Access information for diverse purposes and from a variety of sources to inform writing
  • Think critically, creatively, and reflectively to explore ideas within, between, and beyond texts
Create and communicate
  • Express and support an opinion with evidence
  • Use acknowledgements and citations to recognize intellectual property rights


Entrepreneurship and Marketing 10 

Big ideas 

  • Social, ethical, and sustainability considerations impact design and decision making
  • Ethical marketing, forms of marketing and online marketing concepts

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