Grade Level: 3–8
ACF Lesson Plan: Conserving Electric Energy
Students participate in two experiments that familiarize them with electricity use and energy consumption.
Special Note to Teachers:This is a great hands-on activity for students to comprehend the effects of regulation. Also ties into wasteful use of our resources.
- gain an appreciation for their dependency on electricity,
- analyze and contrast two graphs measuring the consumption of a resource under modified regulations,
- understand that regulating the rate of consumption of a resource allows it to last longer, and
- compare and contrast the rate of consumption of a resource over a period of time through regulation.
- Science in Personal and Social Perspective, 5-8
- Populations, resources, and environments
- Production, Distribution, and Consumption
- Science, Technology, and Society
- Data Analysis, 3-5, 5-8
One to two 45-minute class periods
- Pen and paper
- Cookies or crackers (two per student)*
- Overhead projector or blackboard
- Data Graphing Sheet
*Do not use any products that contain peanuts in case there are students with allergies.
- In what activities do you participate that are dependent on electricity?
- How is that electricity generated?
- Do you know how much coal and other natural resources are needed to generate the electricity you use in a given day?
- After conducting a brief discussion about the nation’s immense dependence on electricity, explain to students that more than half of the United States’ electricity is generated by coal—far more than any other energy source. Our country’s demand for electricity is on the rise as the use of microelectronic (e.g., computers) and other electronic equipment increases.
- Ask students if they think they could live in their homes without electricity for just two hours. What would their lifestyle be like? For homework, ask students to try to survive without using any electricity for two hours. Discuss as a class the items that students will have to abstain from using. The list may include the following:
- Radio or stereo
- Video game console
- Coffee maker
- Alarm clock
- Washing machine
- TV/VCR/DVD player
- Water heater
- Electric stove
- Clothes dryer
- Can opener
- Garage door opener
Have students write a paragraph explaining their opinion about conserving energy resources. What measures do they believe individuals can (or should) take to conserve resources such as coal? What, if any, measures should the government take to regulate individual or industrial rates of consumption?
Students can research what regulations are in place for controlling rates of consumption of other natural resources in their area or nationally. They may want to investigate rainforest or old-growth preservations, oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), water consumption restrictions placed on drought-ridden areas, or other significant efforts. Allow them to share their findings with the class and encourage them to become involved with these efforts if they feel passionately about them.