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Are You An Energy Efficient Consumer?
https://koshland-science-museum.org/explore/lights-night-webquest

Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences

This activity engages students in learning about ways to become energy efficient consumers. Students examine how different countries and regions around the world use energy over time, as reflected in night light levels. They then track their own energy use, identify ways to reduce their individual energy consumption, and explore how community choices impact the carbon footprint.

Activity takes two 45-minute class periods. Computer access is needed for part of the activity.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

A combination of strategies is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The most immediate strategy is conservation of oil, gas, and coal, which we rely on as fuels for most of our transportation, heating, cooling, agriculture, and electricity. Short-term strategies involve switching from carbon-intensive to renewable energy sources, which also requires building new infrastructure for alternative energy sources. Long-term strategies involve innovative research and a fundamental change in the way humans use energy.
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
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Actions taken by individuals, communities, states, and countries all influence climate. Practices and policies followed in homes, schools, businesses, and governments can affect climate. Climate-related decisions made by one generation can provide opportunities as well as limit the range of possibilities open to the next generation. Steps toward reducing the impact of climate change may influence the present generation by providing other benefits such as improved public health infrastructure and sustainable built environments.
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPg

Energy Literacy

Energy decisions are influenced by economic factors.
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5.4 Economic factors.
Energy decisions are influenced by political factors.
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5.5 Political factors.
Energy decisions are influenced by social factors.
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5.7 Social Factors.
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Energy decisions are influenced by several factors.
Social and technological innovation affects the amount of energy used by human society.
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6.5 Social and technological innovation.
Behavior and design affect the amount of energy used by human society.
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6.6 Behavior and design.
Amount of energy used can be calculated and monitored.
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6.8 Calculating and monitoring energy use.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

4. Personal and Civic Responsibility:B) Recognizing citizens' rightrs and responsiblities
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B) Recognizing citizens' rightrs and responsiblities.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.3 Humans and Their Societies:A) Individuals and groups
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A) Individuals and groups.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:A) Human/environment interactions
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A) Human/environment interactions.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:C) Resources
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C) Resources.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:D) Technology
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D) Technology.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:E) Environmental Issues
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E) Environmental Issues.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:A) Identifying and investigating issues
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A) Identifying and investigating issues.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:B) Sorting out the consequences of issues
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B) Sorting out the consequences of issues.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action
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C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Different ways of obtaining, transforming, and distributing energy have different environmental consequences.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
Decisions to slow the depletion of energy resources can be made at many levels, from personal to national, and they always involve trade-offs involving economic costs and social values.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • The idea of having students describe what they see in the night sky is nice, but it will be difficult to have them discuss whether or not what they see is disturbed by light pollution. To arrive at this conclusion, they would need to see a difference.
  • Possible follow-up topics include energy cycles (photosynthesis and respiration), global climate change, properties of light and energy (from a physical science perspective).
  • Educators should emphasize that the carbon calculator is using some simplified equations. They will appear like a black box to the students and some more explanation will be helpful.

About the Science

  • The activity challenges users to connect energy use and decisions with broader environmental impact. It forces individuals to examine their energy use and expands thinking beyond immediate self and neighborhood to global perspective.
  • There is an interesting but unexplained connection between evening lighting and energy usage as the starting premise for the activity. It would be enhanced if the connection was supported by scientific data. One image suggests lighting in the United States has decreased, yet national energy use has not. Data is from 1993, 1997 and 2003.
  • Activity takes students on a journey from local to regional to national to world - with changing perspectives on the topic.

About the Pedagogy

  • The activity uses a nice mix of different learning methods - video, graphs, and internet research.
  • Great guideline for educator with clear instructions for the activity.
  • Different learning styles are addressed with the mix of teamwork, visualizations, and classroom discussions.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The activity is easy to maneuver and simple to follow.

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