In this activity, students collect data and analyze the cost of using energy in their homes and investigate one method (switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs) of reducing energy use. This activity provides educators and students with the means to connect 'energy use consequences' and 'climate change causes.' Through examining home energy use and calculating both pollution caused by the generation of electricity and potential savings, students can internalize these issues and share information with their families.
The activity follows a progression that examines the CO2 content of various gases, explores the changes in the atmospheric levels of CO2 from 1958 to 2000 from the Mauna Loa Keeling curve, and the relationship between CO2 and temperature over the past 160,000 years. This provides a foundation for examining individuals' input of CO2 to the atmosphere and how to reduce it.
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.
In this activity, student teams research and develop a proposal to decrease the carbon footprint of their city's/town's public transportation system and then prepare a report that explains why their transportation plan is the best for their community.
This board game, designed for middle school students, introduces the concepts of energy use in our lives and the real impact that personal choices can have on our energy consumption, energy bills, and fuel supply.
In this activity, students construct a Global Warming Wheel Card, a hand-held tool that they can use to estimate their household's emissions of carbon dioxide and learn how they can reduce them. One side of the wheel illustrates how much carbon dioxide a household contributes to the atmosphere per year through activities such as driving a car, using energy in the home, and disposing of waste. The other side shows how changes in behavior can reduce personal emissions.
Students calculate the cost of the energy used to operate a common three-bulb light fixture. They then compare the costs and amount of CO2 produced for similar incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs. Students also do a short laboratory activity to visualize why two bulbs, which give off the same amount of light, use different amounts of electrical energy.
Student teams design and build solar water heating devices that mimic those used in residences to capture energy in the form of solar radiation and convert it to thermal energy. In this activity, students gain a better understanding of the three different types of heat transfer, each of which plays a role in the solar water heater design. Once the model devices are constructed, students perform efficiency calculations and compare designs.
Students investigate passive solar building design with a focus on heating. Insulation, window placement, thermal mass, surface colors, and site orientation are addressed in the background materials and design preparation. Students test their projects for thermal gains and losses during a simulated day and night then compare designs with other teams for suggestions for improvements.