This hands-on activity will provide students with an understanding of the issues that surround environmental clean-up. Students will create their own oil spill, try different methods for cleaning it up, and then discuss the merits of each method in terms of effectiveness (cleanliness) and cost. They will be asked to put themselves in the place of both an environmental engineer and an oil company owner who are responsible for the clean-up.
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.
This Energy Flow Charts website is a set of energy Sankey diagrams or flow charts for 136 countries constructed from data maintained by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and reflects the energy use patterns for 2007.
This video segment highlights how the U.S. military is the single largest user of energy in the nation, but it is also trying to reduce its carbon bootprint. Scenes taped at Fort Irwin and Camp Pendleton show the Army and Marines experimenting with wind and solar in order to reduce the number of fuel convoys that are vulnerable to attack.
Sankey (or Spaghetti) diagrams parse out the energy flow by state, based on 2008 data from the Dept. of Energy. These diagrams can help bring a local perspective to energy consumption. The estimates include rejected or lost energy but don't necessarily include losses at the ultimate user end that are due to lack of insulation.
This video segment from the Earth Operators Manual summarizes how fossil fuels are made, provides a comparison of how long it takes to store energy in coal, oil and natural gas, and discusses how fast we're using them.