STOP THE BUS! AMERICA WANTS A RIDE
In this lesson and its extensions the students should have the
opportunity to compare the fuel efficiencies of various modes of transportation
and graph the results. The students will gather information about the growing
pollution problem caused by the personal automobile from viewing video segments,
gathering outside research, and obtaining firsthand experience through experiments
conducted in their own geographical area . At the end of this lesson students
will design and conduct a forum to discuss ways to improve on lifestyle
actions and limit excessive pollution for the future.
The Human Community #7: Lifestyle Conflicts
The Human Community#11: Energy Demands Car Smart, 1990 Atlantic Richfield
Students will be able to:
- identify major sources of air pollution associated with automobile
- recognize that human lifestyles directly influence the degree of air
- identify and describe specific actions to take in order to limit air
pollution caused by automobiles
- compare various vehicles (cars, trucks, buses, and mass transit trains)
for fuel efficiency
- and evaluate the use of car pooling or mass transit by observing the
number of people riding in each vehicle as it passes a busy intersection
- pictures of automobiles
- fuel efficiency information from several car dealers
- information on improvements on car emissions
Per group of three to four students:
Per group of two to three students:
- Transportation Survey Sheet
Before starting the unit, encourage the students to bring in
pictures of cars for a bulletin board display. Stop at several car dealerships
and collect pamphlets on the features and fuel efficiencies of various automobiles.
Ask the students to make a list of advantages and disadvantages of personal
automobile use versus car pooling or mass transit. Break up into small cooperative
groups of three to four students to discuss the pros and cons of each mode
of transportation. Assign roles such as reporter, recorder, etc. Ask the
reporter to share the main ideas of the group with the class.
Introduce human demands for energy and the resulting air pollution problems.
Spark a discussion of ways to conserve energy and alternatives to energy
dependence. Ask the students to make a list of advantages and disadvantages
of personal automobile use versus car pooling or mass transit.
Give the students the Transportation Survey Sheet and have them survey their
classmates, teachers, and staff at the school about their modes of transportation.
Tally the results of the entire class on the board and have each student
graph results on graph paper ( a bar graph would be most appropriate).
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, have
each student look for positives and negatives associated with driving a
personal automobile. Have each student construct a chart to place ideas
under each category.
BEGIN the video The Human Community #7: Lifestyle
Conflicts and PAUSE when the narrator says "This is our
new car, shiny and beautiful" and the keyhole of the car is shown on
the video. Review the pros and cons for personal automobile use given so
far in the segment. (Positives: cars help us solve problems and auto makers
have improved gas mileage. Negatives: Cars cause air pollution, reduce air
quality, create a need for parking lots which changes our environment, and
use large quantities of resources.)
FAST FORWARD through the car graveyard segment and as you
are fast forwarding, ask the students to focus on alternatives to cars and
added parking lots in this next segment. RESUME the video when the
serene picture of the island Tangear appears. STOP and EJECT
the tape when the bicycle mirror is shown close up and the narrator says
"Bicycles and motor bikes are their alternatives to the automobile."
Lead a class discussion about the possibility of using these alternatives
solely to replace the automobile or of using them as a transportation supplement
in their individual communities.
BEGIN The Human Community #11: Energy Demands and FAST
FORWARD the segment to the close up of the gas pump toward the beginning
of the tape. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, ask
each student to identify the amount of energy used by automobiles. PAUSE
after the airplane lands. Check out the students' answers to your question
about energy amount used by automobiles. Ask the students to identify in
the next segment why our energy demands are so great today. (population
RESUME the segment and PAUSE when the narrator says "We
must find ways to reduce their energy demand." Ask the students to
look for positive and negative aspects of mass transit in the next segment.
STOP and EJECT the tape when the narrator says "Maintaining
where they live" and apartment buildings are shown. Ask students for
positives and negatives associated with mass transit. (Positives: fuel efficiency,
reduce energy consumption. Negatives: wait at the bus stop, cold weather,
pack into a vehicle with other people.) Encourage students to save their
notes for a debate they will be staging at the end of the video segments.
BEGIN the Car Smart video with Khrystyne Haje speaking about
air pollution. PAUSE when Khrystyne says " Makes you wonder
what this stuff coming out of the tail pipe is" as she points to the
car tail pipe. To give the students a specific focus for viewing, ask them
to look for and write down as many of the substances found in car emissions
as possible. At the end of this short clip on auto emissions, REWIND
the segment and PAUSE often to let each student write them down.
PAUSE when the runner appears jumping hurdles. Ask the students to
comment on the teens' feelings about how auto emissions are affecting their
lives. Tell the students that the rest of the video explains how personal
choices can effect the amount of car emissions that each one of us contributes
to the environment. Ask them to write down each action we can take to help
limit this problem.
PAUSE at the end of the tape when all of the actions are listed on
the screen. Make sure that each student writes them down and understands
each one. STOP and EJECT the tape.
An excellent way to learn about environmental problems is to
investigate them firsthand. Investigations made in your own geographical
area with ecological problems will be remembered far better than by reading
about them in a book.
Take your students to a busy intersection close to your school to observe
traffic. If possible take different classes throughout the day to compare
Give each group a copy of the worksheet A Car Went By and explain that the
categories include cars, buses, trucks, vans, and bicycles/walkers.
Divide the class into five large groups and assign each group a category.
Have each group further subdivide. Each student will count a vehicle in
their category with a different number of people in it. For example, one
student in the group will only count cars with one person driving it while
another person in the same group will count cars with one person driving
and one person riding in it and so on. Each group will be responsible for
counting all of the vehicles in their assigned category that cross the intersection
from any direction.
Before leaving to count vehicles, have the students hypothesize about the
amount of vehicles they will see and the amount of people they will observe
riding in the vehicles.
Walk your group to the intersection if possible or go by bus. Make sure
the students don't start counting until you say to start. Stop the counting
after 20 minutes (longer if you have more time). When you arrive back in
the classroom, have each group report their results on the chalkboard and
ask each group to write down those results. If possible, gather results
from other classes throughout the day and have all students record the results
for the day. Offer extra credit for students who want to sit at the intersection
later in the day and gather results.
Ask each group to graph and analyze the results. Encourage them to use statistics
- average, median, and mode. After graphing and analyzing results, ask the
students to formulate conclusions (reject or accept hypothesis) and answer
the questions on the lab. Use the results and conclusions from this activity
along with information gathered from the videos to spark a class debate
on Mass Transit vs. Personal Automobile Usage. The same five groups who
gathered data in the A Car Went By lab could represent different viewpoints
in the debate and present their facts and opinions to another group of students
in the school. The audience could then vote at the end of the debate. See
extensions for more details.
Assign the students to write the Environmental Protection Agency
to ask for information on emissions data on buses and cars (4, 6, and 8
cylinder engines). Include diesel-fueled vehicles. Compare the amount of
exhaust emissions to the number of people the vehicle can carry. Invite
a city planner to speak to the class about how cities cope with the increasing
number of cars in the community. Ask him/her to bring along detailed drawings
of roadways, greenways, and traffic patterns. Assign students to write questions
to ask the city planner on the day of his/her visit.
Science/Social Studies: VIDEODISCOVERY has an excellent videodisc
called STS Science Forums. One forum is called "Mass Transit."
This forum is an excellent and easy way to involve students further into
this environmental issue. Students are assigned viewpoints and are expected
to research their side of the forum.
Each group then makes a presentation to the class using the videodisc interviews,
documents, and photographs, as well as their own opinions and research.
The second step is called rebuttal. Each group has a chance to challenge
the interpretation of material presented by the other teams.
The last step is to evaluate the information presented and vote on the proposal.
In this case it is a proposal for Mass Transit.
This activity is fun for the class. It pulls together technology, interactive
videos, and environmental issues.
Science/Math: Assign students to calculate miles per gallon for their personal
automobiles at home. Assign one student to ask the school bus driver to
help with the project for comparison purposes. Have them follow these steps:
Fill the vehicle up with gasoline and record the reading on the odometer.
This is the starting mileage figure. After driving until the tank gets low,
record the number of gallons needed to fill the tank. This number is shown
on the gas pump.
Subtract the starting mileage figure from the current odometer reading.
This gives the miles traveled.
Divide the miles traveled by the gallons used. The result is the fuel efficiency
expressed in miles per gallon.
Divide the miles per gallon for the vehicle by the number of passengers
(including the driver). This will give the miles per gallon per person.
Language Arts/Science/Art: A neat way to include language arts would be
to assign students to brainstorm solutions to the environmental problems
of car emissions and resources shortage. After brainstorming solutions,
the students could write an essay about their ideas put into action and
how the future would be changed because of their inventions or lifestyle
Another follow-up assignment could be an essay on what the future would
be like with no lifestyle changes and more people with more automobiles
in the same amount of space.
Give students a piece of posterboard on which to draw their ideas and color
in the details. As students present their stories, they could also explain
their pictures. Display the pictures in the classroom and out in the hallways.
Social Studies: Have the students report on lifestyles of various cultures
worldwide. Which require the least energy? Which require the most energy?
Why? (an activity suggested in the teacher guide that accompanies Human
Community #11: Energy Demands.)
Click here to view the
worksheet associated with this lesson.
Master Teachers: Suzanne Asaturian and Cheryl Rulis
Lesson Plan Database
Thirteen Ed Online