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Grades 6 - 12


Teenagers seem to possess an inner spirit that motivates them to listen to loud music, buy all the latest electronic gadgets, spend extra time primping in the bathroom, and borrow the car to drive to school. Many are also quite concerned about the future of our planet earth. In this lesson, students will discover the interconnectedness of their energy demands on the earth's resources. From energy resources to waste products, consumers interact with the health of our earth on a global scale. This lesson asks students to identify their energy demands and to calculate this impact on a personal and school wide basis. The video segments stage a contrast between modern vs. ancient needs, and help connect and explain energy utilized and the greenhouse effect.

Student assessments of their own energy uses help to develop an awareness of the different types of natural resources affected by consumers. Electricity and fuel bills are used to document a family's or school's energy consumption over time. The analysis of this data presents learning opportunities in the form of graphing, statistics, and experimental design. Optionally, computer spreadsheet software could be used as an efficient technological tool to maintain records and analyze trends in energy consumption. Calculations enable students to expand relationships to show how much they are personally impacting the earth.
ITV Series
Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
For each pair of students:
at least one complete year of electricity and/or other fuel bills for your school
graphing paper

Optional: A computer with spreadsheet software and graphing abilities

Pre-Viewing Activities
Ask students to reflect on their morning ritual of waking, preparing themselves, and getting to school. Prompt students to retrace every little step they take by asking them, "What time do you wake up? How long does it take you to get out the door? What did you do with each minute of that time? How long did it take you to get to school?" Ask students to briefly write a "play-by-play" of their morning adventure. Choose one student to retrace her/his steps aloud to the class and map each step on the board. Ask the class to help highlight which steps are made easier by technology.
Focus Viewing
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, ask them to watch carefully the characters in the video, and jot down instances where they see them interacting with the earth. Students should also note differences in the lifestyles of these two characters. Inform students that they will be watching the video without sound so they can draw on their own perspectives.

START the Planet Under Pressure, #10: Pleasure Planet video at the beginning where just the planet is shown. Be sure the TV is muted or turn the volume all the way down. Play the video for just one minute to show the caveperson trying to build a weapon to ward off a wolf.

FAST FORWARD the video to the man emerging from the woods with his dog. Continue to watch the modern man through to the new skyscraper being built (approximately three minutes). STOP the video.

Insert the Planet Under Pressure, #5: Winds of Change video and FAST FORWARD to the evolution of the horse. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, ask them to note any connections they can make between their morning ritual and the health of the earth. Ask students to record all numerical data they see or hear, and note how scientists determine these values.

BEGIN the video.

PAUSE the video at the graph of the average global temperature increase vs. time Ask students to explain the trends suggested by this graph. Ask students how old they will be in the year 2040?

RESUME video and play to when the narrator says, "by the time you're retiring if you're in your teens now." STOP the video.

Post-Viewing Activities
Ask students to predict a typical morning for the caveman. Ask another student to record student ideas for their typical morning in another play-by-play map on the board. Encourage students to reflect on each lifestyle and how they impact the earth. As students are offering specific differences, the teacher and the student recorder should write specific connections on the maps on the board. Significant differences between the ancient and modern lifestyles should include comfort levels, the availability of energy, and the use of natural resources.

Compare the impact of the caveman to the student's impact on the earth. Pick one item that involves current technology from the morning activity map on the board, and ask students to help you trace all of its energy and resources usage. Don't stop your web at the plug in the wall...continue to trace the energy requirements through the power lines to the generating station. How does this power station affect the earth? Continue to map out all connections, including energies needed for manufacturing the item, all material requirements of natural resources, and the waste products introduced to our planet. Although we are focusing on just one item, ask students to imagine what our energy/resource web would look like if we were to analyze every small step involved in their morning.

Solicit numerical information from the students and record it on the board. Be sure to include unit descriptions for every number. Re-play the video if necessary to get the complete information. Ask students: "What is the significance of a 5 C change in temperature? What connection is there between your morning lifestyle and the Greenhouse Effect?" Ask students to reflect on the ride from their home to school:

How many miles (or Km) do you travel? Example: 10 miles. What kind of mileage (mpg or Km/L) does your car get? Example: 22 mpg. For every kg of gasoline burned, automobiles emit 3.10 kg of CO2. The density of iso-octane is .7028 g/mL and the density of CO2. under standard conditions is 1.527 g/L. Use this information to calculate the volume of CO2 emitted by your car as you drive back and forth to school.

Allow students to work in pairs to solve this question. Record all student answers on the board. Are they identical? If not, there must be a problem here...same car, same mileage. Ask students to describe how they arrived at their answer. There are many routes to the correct answer, but some students may have forgotten to convert gallons to liters, or mL to liters. The teacher should then use a 10-mile roundtrip with a school bus's mileage to calculate the amount of CO2 emitted. Using unit analysis and relationships to determine your solution will demonstrate accountability in problem solving. For example: ask students to decide which mode of transportation would be kinder to our planet and our future? Comfort and privacy has costs, how much are you willing to pay?

Pass out individual energy bills to students, and ask them to determine:
The average KW hours used each day of the billing period.
The average cost of each KW hour.
The average cost per day for electricity.
Student work should include unit analysis whenever possible.

Ask students to brainstorm the factors that would affect these energy needs.
Amount of daylight.
Average daily temperature.
Use of special electrical tools or equipment.
Vacation time - more people home or not.
Turning off lights when not in use.
Shades or curtains on windows.
Extra insulation on water pipes or water heater.

Divide the class into energy research groups and ask students to hypothesize how these items might affect electricity needs. Place the factors identified onto small pieces of paper, fold, and place them into a container. Ask one member of each group to pick one factor for a research project. Allow student groups to research the information necessary to show how these factors relate to the school's electrical (or other fuel) energy costs. Students may need to contact the school's business office, or conduct an energy audit of each classroom in the building.

Students may design specific energy experiments using building materials such as glass, lexan, metals, or insulation. Encourage students to obtain as much data as possible for more dependable results. Depending on the availability of computers in your classroom, student groups may design spreadsheets individually or the class may combine efforts to produce one spreadsheet that involves all information. Student groups should prepare their data for presentation to the class.
Action Plan
Contact your local public utilities company for additional information on rates, demand, and conservation tips.

Invite fuel specialists or scientists to share cutting-edge technologies that are being developed.

Ask an electrical engineer or graduate student to help explain electrical energy units such as amps, watts, volts.

Borrow equipment to conduct energy audits of appliances or lighting devices. Use these instruments to obtain data for student-designed experiments.

Encourage student groups to actively promote electricity conservation at home and/or school. Data from previous years can be used for comparison.
Science/Math: Conduct energy audits of students' homes, make comparisons to energy used, and offer suggestions for conservation.

Art: Design energy conservation posters for your school and community.

Social Studies: Launch an energy conservation month at your school, monitor changes in use, and report savings to the school and community. Schools within districts or states may want to compete for energy savings.

Language Arts: Ask students to write about the issues involved in making "good" consumer decisions.

Science/Social Studies: Conduct a survey of community energy practices and report on global impacts.

Energy, Economics, and the Environment, Office of School Assistance, Center for School
Improvement and Performance, Indiana Department of Education, Indiana.

Wilson, David A., "Home Energy Survey." The Science Teacher, November, 1995.

Energy Information Packets produced by local public utility companies.

U.S. Department of Energy.

Master Teacher: Barbara A. Hopkins
Oyster River High School, Durham, NH

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