UBC ATSC 313 Renewable Energy Meteorology

FAQs      (dm)

Frequently Asked Questions

 Here are questions (Q) asked by students in previous terms, and answers (A) provided by the instructor.

          (Additional Tips provided by previous students are provided via the course home page --not in Canvas). 

Q. For modules, would it be alright if we collaborate with our peers on what we think the best Page 2 Step 7 decision would be? Or is that a section that is off limits to collaboration? 

A. Yes, in fact we encourage collaborative discussion for steps 5-7. See Step 5: "Feel free to discuss with your classmates the strategy you will use to analyze the info to reach a decision. Use Piazza."
The reason is as you describe, the scenarios are meant to reflect real-world situations, and you would be on a team with meteorologists, hydrologists, and engineers working to come up with the best option under the uncertainty of future weather.
For completeness, the quizzes in Step 3 and Step 4 are for individual submission (no collaboration with other students) since they test student's direct knowledge of the Learning Goals. 

Q. Some of the assignments require us to hand in a PDF file with our analysis. If we have an Excel graph, can we just hand in the Excel spreadsheet? 

A. No, PDF is the only file type Canvas will accept in these questions. One good approach is to write your analysis in Word, including Excel graphics (it is easy to copy Excel graphs into Word), then save your Word document as a PDF file. 

Q. How do I calculate spill in the Hydro theme reservoir flow calculations? 

A. At each hourly time step, calculate Net Inflow, which is Inflow Outflow:
[ = watershed runoff Q - (turbine flow setting + water release gate setting)].
Keep units m3/s.
Then check your current reservoir level (where 0 = Full and negative numbers mean the reservoir is less than full. Keep units in meters).
Then to calculate the change in reservoir level, take the Net Inflow value in m3/s and divide by the reservoir area (m2), then multiply by 3600 to get the change in reservoir level in meters in one hour.
Then calculate the change in reservoir level up or down to get the new reservoir level.
If the reservoir level goes over zero, that means that water is going down the spillway as spill; the net inflow that hour is spill. Not until the net inflow turns negative (check for that) can the reservoir level go down. 

Q. Is there an approximate amount of time we should be spending on each step? 

A. Keep in mind the point diagram. The Step 3 questions and the Step 4 quizzes make up 67% of the module marks. The Step 6 code/calculation/writeup and Step 7b Justification (essay-type, 3-statements) make up another 20% of the module mark. Step 7a, which is multiple choice, is only the other 13% of the module. The midterms and final are 100% based on the Learning Goals, not the Module case-study scenarios. I hope this helps you manage your time for this course. 

Q. Are there more details of what is wanted for our submission in step 6? The assignment pages just give us tips on how to do it and what the final product is for step 7. Is there a rubric or something that we can use, or do you just want a document describing our steps to get to where we did? 

A. For Step 6 submission we'd like to see a brief summary of your analysis of the problem, and a copy of your code if you used a programming language, and a screenshot of your spreadsheet if you used Excel or a similar spreadsheet program. The submission must be in one PDF document to upload. 

Q. How do I access the Learning Goals? A login window pops up. I tried signing in with my CWL but it’s not working. 

A. The login information is on the Canvas home page for this course. 

Q. I wanted to ask how to best study for the hydro midterm exam. There seems to be a lot of concepts for this module alone and it is a mix of vocabulary and concepts. What is an efficient way to study? 

A. First, it's important to know about the midterm exam. If you haven't taken an online course like ATSC 313 before, the midterm is open for a window of time over a 2-day period (as shown on the schedule). But once you start the exam, you have 50 minutes continuous time to complete it, exactly like in-class midterm exams. You cannot take a break and stop and re-start the clock.
The exam is multiple choice questions, similar in structure to the Step 4 quizzes.
All questions are based on the Learning Goals, there are no questions directly based on the scenarios.
On the midterm exams, we ask one to two questions on each Learning Goal, on average, with no more than 50 questions total, in the 50 minutes allotted. 
The exam is open book. You can refer to the all the course web pages and Learning Goals, however you have to keep in mind the time limit.
Each of the 3 midterm exams in the course is worth 10% of the overall course mark.
Students have different methods to study. Some may want to study with a classmate and ask each other questions off the Learning Goals. Some may want to make a set of condensed notes from the course material.  See the "Tips" link from the home page, for recommendations from previous students in this course.

Q. Do we get the correct answers for the step 4 canvas quizzes after they're closed? 

A. No, the quizzes are not available after they close. However, we provide 2 attempts at each quiz, and the quizzes are open book. If a student remains unclear on a concept covered in a Learning Goal, they are welcome to contact the Instructor or TA to discuss further. 

Q. How do we create the ePortfolio assignment? As I understand it, we are supposed to write a report giving the potential solar energy, wind energy, and precipitation at our home.  We are supposed to calculate the energy we could get at my house, on a monthly and yearly basis. How do I find that information? How do I find precipitation information, and how do I include that?  What should I do? 

A. Yes, the assignment is to write a report that calculates how much solar energy and wind energy you could conceivable get at your house or building if you installed a home-scale solar panel installation and a home-scale wind power turbine.  You are asked to provide these as average values for each of the 12 months, plus an average annual summary.  For the precipitation segment, you are to include precipitation amount estimates plus give a qualitiative (NOT quantitative) assessment of what a small hydropower unit might produce IF you lived on a large rural property with a creek.  You will find ALL the information you need for your ePortfolio report in the Learning Goals in the course.  We also provide an example report you can view to help you write your own ePortfolio report. 

Q. I’m trying to figure out what is testable on the midterm exams and what isn’t. 

A. The readings assigned within a Learning Goal DO count as part of the Learning Goal. The key to knowing what is testable is reviewing the aspects specifically listed in each Learning Goal statement (the statement is the LG text directly below the "Subject:" line).  

Q. Are the questions on the final exam multiple choice? 

A. Yes, the final exam consists of multiple choice questions. All questions are based on the Learning Goals.