Report – Visit of an open-cast coal mine, solar power plant and biogas-plant, in Bradenburg / Cottbus
Setting: The aim during this excursion was, to show what energy production is in real, and to demonstrate the real size of the power plants and the effects on surroundings and humans. We had four different kinds of energy production sites to visit. The first stop was a coal mining site in Cottbus in Kiessee Maust (Germany) they use the lignite coal for energy production.
The rest were renewable energy plants such as The Lieberose Photovoltaic Park that is the world´s third-largest solar power plant with a production of 70.8 (MW) by 900,000 solar panels. Also biomass and Wind Power Plant were seen.
The guide used interactive methods of teaching and showing to the group how the Power Plants work by using one of the group members as if he was the owner of the company. This person had to explain how the process of extracting was and how they produce the energy. Also the group member had to explain what were the disadvantages and advantages of each process.
At the PV power plant we had an extra guide that came to explain how they have done the deforestation and the repositioning of the animals by creating new habitats by planting trees.
Evaluation of the method:
As a method these visits were a great way of showing the magnitude of each kind of energy production and the impacts on environment, local infrastructure, economy and social aspects.
The guide was always interacting with the group, asking questions and trying to search the answer in the audience at first, and afterwards telling the answers at the end of the particular conversations.
The aim of the method was to improve the capacity of our background knowledge and thoughts about issues related to the different areas involved in energy production. Like this, people can also improve the critical thinking and be more involved. All of us were interested and active all along the visits.
This kind of method can be used in all age groups, about different topics. In our opinion, the group size should be adapted to the different topics and situations. Because we think that our group should have split because then more people could have active voice/role on the method.
The main advantage of this method was the capacity of the guide to involve the whole group in the discussions, focusing the attention and creating moments of brainstorming before explaining and giving all the informations about the functioning of the power plants. The approach of the guide was very educational in every aspect (experiencing, in an active way using all our senses, like smelling, touching, seeing, hearing…). The only limiting factor we found was the group size. Groups should have no more than 10 or 12 people.