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Energy efficiency of different light bulbs (There's a Thief in My Kitchen)

Connecticut Energy Education

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.

Activity takes one to two class periods. Lamps and access to sockets necessary.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPe
About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPg

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
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7.3 Environmental quality.
Many different units are used to quantify energy.
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1.7 Units of energy.
Energy is a physical quantity that follows precise natural laws.
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Energy is a physical quantity.
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

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:C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action
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C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action.

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

  • Educators should add short answer questions for a final assessment.
  • An interesting graphic that summarizes energy usage can be found at http://www.needtoknow.nas.edu/energy/interactive/energy-system.php.
  • For best results, place the light bulbs close to the thermometers (10 - 20 cm).
  • Educators should stress that the personal change in energy has to go beyond changing light bulbs, but it is a good start.

About the Science

  • Simple, yet effective, activity that has students investigate differences in energy expenditure between regular incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs.

About the Pedagogy

  • There are opportunities for data collection, written responses, data sharing and whole class discussion, which will address different types of learners.
  • The hands-on activity is a nifty way for students to understand why compact fluorescent light bulbs are so efficient and how much less energy loss (heat) there is with them.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Very clear and well-illustrated directions for students and educators.
  • Hands-on part of the activity requires lamps and access to sockets.

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