Teacher Worksheet

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computer1Teacher preparation

Overarching learning goal: Students understand that our energy consumption behaviours have changed significantly over time. They recognise the value or conducting interviews with older people about issues that are important to themselves.

Teacher content information: Energy is the lifeblood of our modern life. It powers our industry, it fuels our cars, and charges our iPhones. The problem is that much of our energy is produced by burning fossil fuels like coal, and this has a range of environmental, social and economic impacts, one being the emission of greenhouse gases.

Cool Australia Presents... Energy (Shortened Version) from Cool Australia on Vimeo.

Hot tips: Teachers must confirm that this activity fits with their school’s privacy policies. It may be necessary to modify the activity so it does comply (making sure there is no references to names, including the student’s name). Your school may also require that a note goes home explaining and asking permission that students collect family oral history comparing energy use.

Teaching sequence

10 minutes - Part A: Thinking about electrical appliances and gadgets
25 minutes - Part B: Designing and conducting an interview
25 minutes - Part B: Class discussion
10 minutes - Reflection

Work through this resource material in the following sequence:

Part A: Thinking about electrical appliances and gadgets

Step 1. Begin this activity by asking students to think about all the electrical appliances and gadgets that we have now. Ask students to work participate in a 'Think Pair Share' thinking routine around the following questions (also available on the Student Worksheet):

  • How many of them were around when you were a little kid?
  • How many do you think will still be around when you are older?
  • How many do you use everyday?
  • What would you use instead of these appliances if these appliances didn’t exist?
  • What new appliances and gadgets do you think will be available in the future?

think pair share1

When complete, ask groups to share their answers with the rest of the class.

Explain to students that while there might be some people out in the world who could correctly predict what sorts of gadgets and appliances will be used in the future, we don’t need to look very far to find out what has happened in the past.

Part 2: Designing and conducting an interview

Step 1. In the next part of this activity, students will devise and carry out an interview with an older person to find out what sorts of appliances and gadgets were used in the past and what was used instead of all the gadgets and appliances we now use.

The first step is for students to design a questionnaire or interview. Ask students to think about what it is that they want to know and what sorts of questions they could ask to get this information. We have created a very simple checklist questionnaire (below and on the Student Worksheet) that students can use or can use to base their own interview around. Students can be far more elaborate than what we have been. However, students should get teacher's approval for their interview and questions before they conduct their interview.

Electrical appliance Was it in their home? If it wasn't, what did they use instead?
Air conditioner    
Washing machine    
Electric blanket    
Vacuum cleaner    
Clothes dryer    
Hot water heater    
Mozzie zapper    
Games console    

Step 2. Once students have completed their interview, ask them to share their results with the class through a class discussion. Consider some of the following questions to help conclude the discussion:

  • What was the most surprising thing about conducting this interview?
  • Were there any other questions that you wanted to ask once you’d sat down with your interviewee that were not on the list?
  • Do you think life would have been harder without all the gadgets and appliances that we now have?


Invite students to complete the following reflection questions (also available on the Student Worksheet):

  • How well did you manage the interview?
  • What would you change about your interview if you were to do it again?
  • What other questions would you ask if you were to do it again?
  • Did you enjoy the interview process? Why or why not?
  • What was the most interesting thing you found out from your interview?
  • What other things would it be interesting to interview an older person about?

Differentiated Learning

Extension: Invite students to interview more than one person, or to interview people of different backgrounds and cultures and to compare the answers in a multimedia presentation or report.