Lesson – Pretzel Power
Title: Pretzel Power
Grade: 4th Grade
Duration: 45 Minutes
Please note: This is a Project Based Learning Project with four separate steps.
The students will recognize the energy efficiency of different kinds of transportation and the benefits of carpooling.
- NEED worksheets – Teacher Resource
- 3” x 5” Cards
- Internet access for students
- Plastic sandwich bags
- Three signs (Home, Near Town, Far Town)
- KWL-What do you know about how vehicles move?
- Discuss what they know and what they would like to know.
- Divide students into groups of 2-3, each representing a different type of energy source.
- Natural Gas
- Electric Vehicles
- Hybrid Electric Vehicles
- Next, introduce the unit of study, by sharing background information on different forms of energy used for transportation.
- Now it’s time for them to research their energy form.
- Allow access to the computer, school library and/or make copies of the suggested Informational Text found at:
- Allow 3-6 days for students to gather information.
- Have groups create a display board, creatively, putting together acquired information on their energy source.
- 11X17 White/Manila Construction Paper
- Colored Pencils/Crayons/ Markers
- Have groups present their boards.
- Have students complete the“L”from the KWL chart.
- Discuss their findings
- What did they learn about the different types of energy sources?
- Which one form better for them, society, or the future? Why?
- In this section, directions can be a bit tricky. However, it is a great exercise for students to apply their knowledge on energy sources used in transportation.
Pretzel Power Experiment
Prior to starting, prepare a plastic bag with ten pretzels for each group.You may do this in your classroom, however; you will need a large space.We recommend doing it outside.
- Have groups look up a car they would like to drive on: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/
- Or you can distribute pre-made cards found at: Elementary Transportation Fuels Info Book
- On 3”x5”index cards, students should record the car’s name, model year, combined miles per gallon, and the number of passengers the car holds.See samples below:
- Have students make three signs: one labeled “Home” one labeled “Near Town”and one labeled “Far Town”. The signs should be large enough to see from across the room.
- Select a large area and place the Home, Near Town, and Far Town signs on cones, poles, walls, or desks.
- Have students “guesstimate” where they think these locations should be.
Group members will need to determine who will represent HOME, NEAR TOWN, FAR TOWN.
- Distribute the bag of pretzels to each group.
- Tell groups not to eat the pretzels until they are told to.
- Explain to the students that each pretzel represents one gallon of gasoline, and each step (heel-to-toe) the student takes represents one mile traveled.
- Students eat a pretzel and take the appropriate number of steps before eating the next pretzel. All steps are heel-to-toe.
- Using only 5 pretzels for this round. Each person will drive his/her car.
- Students will go to work in“ Near Town” and return “Home.” If anyone runsout of fuel (pretzels), he/she must stay at that point until round one is over.
- Now ask them to step heel-to-toe to Near Town approximately 50 steps from HOME.
- Line up at “Home” and start stepping!
- Which cars got you to work and home? Which didn’t?
- Did anyone have extra fuel remaining?
- What are the alternatives to driving your own car are there?
- Using the remaining five pretzels, try some of the suggestions discussed above. Expect “negotiations.” Suggest students carpool to work.
- Drivers may combine each passenger’s pretzels for fuel.
- Everyone will travel to “Far Town” and return “Home”. Line up at “Home” and start stepping!
- The distance to Far Town should be approximately 100 steps from HOME
- Who made it to “Far Town” and back? How did you do this?
- Who did not make it to “Far Town” and back? Why not?