The Big Energy Gamble

Students conduct an energy audit to determine how much carbon dioxide their family is releasing into the atmosphere and then make recommendations for minimizing their family's carbon footprint. Students are specifically asked to understand the units of power and energy to determine the cost of running various household appliances. Finding the amount of carbon dioxide emitted for different types of energy and determining ways of reducing carbon dioxide output is the outcome of the lesson.

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Jeff Lockwood
NOVA Teachers

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Clarification - sentence in the foreword: "Some scientists believe that this increase is due to greenhouse gases produced through human activities" is incorrect, because "based on data, scientists have concluded that human activities have caused increases in greenhouse gases."

Since consumption is based on formulas with units of power and energy, the educator may have to help students with their calculations.

The educator is asked to set up a blog for student research purposes. Technical help to set that up in advance may be necessary.

The extension activity for a school audit is very highly recommended, including a guided discussion on what energy use means for the school would be really helpful.

To avoid issues of equity, use sample bill (rather than students' using their own homes).

The website link to Your Energy Audit is not correct but is currently http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/teachers/activities/pdf/3519_energy_01.pdf.

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