Students will be able to:
- Describe how they each have an effect on California's energy consumption.
- Choose an energy conserving action, carry it out for a week, and evaluate the results.
Students decide what actions they would be willing to take for one week to save energy; write a contract stating their intentions, then discuss the results after a week.
Initially 45 minutes, periodical check-ins for one week, and a 30-minute conclusion.
Energy, interdependence, and critical thinking.
Science, social studies, and language arts.
Conservation, energy, and natural resources.
Americans use more energy per person than people in any other country, including countries with similar lifestyles. People are often unaware of the consequences of high-energy use such as pollution, oil spills, and the greenhouse effect. There are many ways we can conserve energy. Conservation can be as simple as acquiring the habit of turning off lights when we are not using them or as complex as developing cars that use renewable resources. Conservation can also mean changing behaviors, for instance, taking shorter showers or walking instead of driving for short trips.
One piece of butcher paper, writing paper, and pens.
- Ask students why we should care about energy conservation. Discuss the effects of energy consumption. Ask students what their lives would be like without electricity or gasoline.
- Divide into small groups to brainstorm all the things we wouldn't be able to use if we didn't have electricity or gas.
- Suggest to students that they can make choices that affect how much energy they use and therefore, the amount of harmful consequences of energy consumption. Have students brainstorm ways they can save energy: taking shorter showers; using a towel instead of a blow dryer; not leaving hot water running while washing dishes; closing the refrigerator door as quickly as possible; turning off lights, T.V., or radios when no one is in the room; walking or bicycling instead of riding in a car.
- Share ideas from the small groups.
- Write a large example of an energy contract on butcher paper or on the chalkboard.
- Ask students to decide one or more ways they will conserve energy for the next week. Using the example as a guide, have students write out a contract stating their commitment to saving energy.
- Post the contracts in the classroom.
- Have the students write two or three sentences each day about how their contract is working out. Encourage them to include their feelings about it – do they feel deprived, excited, etc. – and include observations about family energy habits, too.
- Check in during the week to find out how they are doing and to see if they are running into any difficulties sticking to their contract.
- At the end of the week, return the contracts to the students. Ask them to re-read their original contract. Then write a summary explaining whether they were able to keep to their plan, what difficulties they found, any unusual things that happened, anything they learned about their habits and use of energy, and how they felt about making choices to conserve energy.
- Discuss the results. Have students share their experiences. Have them list ways that would make energy conservation easier. Encourage then to continue their energy conservation beyond their contract and to make other choices to save energy.
- Have students conduct an energy survey of their homes or classroom, making a list of items that use energy and how they could be used differently to conserve energy.
- Have students design an energy efficient house, school, or city.
Adapted from: The California State Environmental Education Guide, Carole Sly, Leslie Comnes, and Celia Cuomo, Alameda County Office of Education, 1988.
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