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Grades 6-8


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.
ITV Series
The Human Community #7: Lifestyle Conflicts
The Human Community#11: Energy Demands Car Smart, 1990 Atlantic Richfield Company
Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
Per class:

Per group of three to four students:
Per group of two to three students:
Pre-Viewing Activities
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).
Focus Viewing
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.

Viewing Activities
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 doubling)

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.
Post-Viewing Activities
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 traffic patterns.

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.
Action Plan
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 changes.

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

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