Topic Progress:

Lesson – Using Energy at School Activity & Proposal


Title: Using Energy at School Activity & Proposal
Grade: 5th Grade
Duration: Two – 45 Minutes Class Sessions


Science: 3-5-ETS1-2
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Language Arts: LAFS.K12.W.1.1
Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

Essential Question

  • Using what we know about science, what impact does energy efficiency and conservation have on the natural world around us?

Background Information

People around the world are using more electricity as technology increases. As populations increase, so does the demand for electricity. The importance of energy efficiency and conservation are often overlooked. Losses in generated electricity can occur during conversion and transmission of electricity. We must find ways to minimize this. There are numerous benefits associated with the use of less energy in our homes, schools and within our community. Whether you decide to use energy-efficient equipment or change the type of bulbs you are using in your home, you will find that the reduction of energy consumption is not only good for the environment,it is also good for your wallet.

Guiding Questions

  • What does being more efficient mean?
  • Why is it important for us to find ways to maximize efficiency of our energy sources?
  • What is fuel efficiency?
  • How can energy be lost?
  • How can we minimize losses in electricity?
  • How can we make homes/buildings more energy efficient?
  • What can be done to minimize the need for new power plants?
  • What is the difference between energy efficiency and energy conservation?

Inquiry Type

Using Energy at School Activity and Written Proposal to increase Energy Efficiencyand Conservation at your School

In the following activity, students will investigate how energy is used at their school.Students will be able to identify several energy consumers in the building. They will also watch a video about energy efficiency in commercial buildings that will be help them to differentiate between energy efficiency and energy conservation.. Students will then develop and write a proposal on how to increase energy efficiency and conservation at their school using the knowledge they have acquired.

PLEASE NOTE: This activity will take about 3–5 class sessions to complete

Procedure (from pages 18 and 19 of NEED Project – Saving Energy Teacher Guide):

  1. Introduce the idea that energy is usually the second largest expense in school districts after personnel costs.
  2. Place students in groups for this activity.
  3. Ask students to brainstorm how they think schools use energy.
  4. List student responses for the class to see. Make sure their examples include transportation, heating and cooling, lighting, cooking food, heating water, and running machines. Have students refer back to the informational text in the Student Guide (pages 4–11) if needed.
  5. Discuss the factors that affect the amount of energy schools use. Make sure to discuss the size of the building; the number and efficiency of windows and doors;the number and types of lights; the number of machines and how energy efficient they are; the efficiency and temperature settings of the heating, cooling, and water heating systems; the number of transportation vehicles, what fuels they use, and how far they travel; how well systems are maintained; and how people in the building manage all of these factors.
  6. Introduce the activities that students will be doing to investigate their school building and how their school uses energy — drawing diagrams of the school building, their classroom, and their work areas.
  7. Have students complete the activity with copies of the Student Guide (pages 21–25) and pencils.
  8. Have the students walk around the outside of the school building with supervision, making sketches of the shape of the building and the placement of doors and windows. Return to the classroom when students have a good idea of the building’s shape and design.
  9. Display or project the Legend (2-1) master (Teacher Guide page 20) and explain the symbols.
  10. Display or project the Blank Grid (2-2) master (Teacher Guide page 21) and draw a simple diagram of the school building using the symbols for doors and windows.
  11. Discuss with the students what is accurate/inaccurate about your diagram, making changes until there is a consensus that the diagram is an accurate depiction of the school building.
  12. Go to the Using Energy at School worksheet in the Student Guide. Have the students read the instructions, examine the example, then draw their own diagrams of the school on page 22 of the Student Guide. Instruct them to leave enough room around the outside of the diagram to add landscaping later.
  13. Display the Kitchen Example (2-3) master (Teacher Guide page 22). Indicate the symbols used to represent doors, windows, electrical outlets, lights, and energy consuming appliances and devices. Display or pass out copies of the Legend (2-1) (Teacher Guide page 20), and direct students to page 29 in the Student Guide showing the symbols.
  14. Go to page 23 of the Student Guide and have the students make their diagrams of the classroom, following the instructions to make sketches first on notebook paper.
  15. Draw a basic outline/diagram of your school building on the board, interactive board, or overhead for student reference.
  16. Label the main office, cafeteria, gymnasium, library, and your classroom.
  17. Add a map legend and compass rose to your diagram.
  18. Instruct the students to locate each of the items contained in the legend in their classroom. Using the symbols on the legend, have student volunteers add these items to the diagram.
  19. Give each team of students a large sheet of chart paper and ten markers, one color for each item on the map legend. Have each team choose a team leader. The team leader will be responsible for drawing the outline of their assigned location.
  20. Each team member will be assigned one or more items from the map legend. The team leader will monitor and assist as needed.
  21. Discuss with the students the appropriate behavior for this assignment: no talking in the hallway; no running at any time; work cooperatively; do not disrupt any activity in your assigned location.
  22. Student teams will go to their assigned locations and complete the diagram for that location.
  23. Once the students have completed their inventory and diagrams, teams will return to the classroom and review what they found.
  24. Go to page 24 of the Student Guide, My Work Area, and have students draw their diagrams in their work groups.
  25. Go to the Reflections activity in the Student Guide, and have the students complete the questions at the top of the page.
  26. Project or display the Building Inventory (2-4) master (Teacher Guide page 24).
  27. Fill in the chart with data (numbers, locations, or important notes) from the work groups as the students complete their charts on the bottom of the Reflections activity.
  28. Discuss what the students learned while completing the diagrams.
  29. Now Watch the short video clip – Energy 101: Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Video
  30. After watching, discuss content with students.
  31. Instruct students to develop and write a proposal on how increase energy efficiency and conservation at their school.
  32. This activity may be done independently, in pairs or in small groups.
  33. Allow time for students should present their proposals to the class.