Overarching learning goal: Students recognise where energy is being used in their classroom and at their school, and understand the ways they could reduce the amount of energy used. They recognise the ways we could share what they know about reducing energy at school or in the classroom and why this is important. Finally, they understand some of the steps required in designing and implementing a school or class energy reduction plan.
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.
10 minutes - Introduction
10 minutes - Part A: Why Do We Need To Take Action?
15 minutes - Part B: Ideation - 50 Ideas in 5 Minutes
35 minutes - Part C: Project Planning
60+ minutes - Part D: Execute the Project (this could be done in one day or over a number of weeks to complete the project)
30+ minutes - Reflection
Work through this resource material in the following sequence:
Step 1. Begin by sharing the following quote with students:
Invite students to reflect on what this might mean in the context of energy.
Step 2. Now explain to students that in this lesson they will be developing a plan, project or action for reducing energy use at their school. The plan should be based on what they already know about the energy use at your school (through lessons such as the AuSSI Energy Audit or the Classroom Audit).
In addition, explain to students that although they will be working in groups, each group member should take responsibility for collecting evidence and artefacts about the work that they put into the project, including drafts of everything they create as part of the project and records of any opportunities they pursue (either successfully or unsuccessfully). The most important thing for students to remember is that the PROCESS of completing the project is really important - perhaps even more than the final product. Students should aim to demonstrate the growth and learning that they experienced both personally and as a group as a result of facing the challenges inherent in a project of this type.
In this lesson students will be asked to:
- Think about what they think is most important for them and their school
- Develop a range of ideas for taking action
- Select one idea for taking action
- Plan a project around this idea
- Execute the project
- Reflect on the success of their project and celebrate their efforts
Part A: Why Do We Need To Take Action?
Step 1. Invite students to nominate energy issues around the school or in the classroom that they think are most important. For example:
- Appliances/lights/computers left on over night/weekends/holidays
- Using heaters or airconditioners unecessarily
- No curtains or blinds on windows to keep sun out or warmth in
- No shade around buildings
- Opportunity to install solar panels
Step 2. Once complete, invite students to nominate which issue they are most interested in. If possible, assign students into groups of three based on individual interests. Alternatively, break the class into groups of three and invite each group to nominate an action they are interested in, or assign groups with an action. When assigning students to groups, see if you can give students the opportunity to work with others who might have a different level of ability, or who are of a different gender or cultural background.
Step 3. Once groups have been established it's time to assign group members with roles. Each group member should be assigned with a specific role (such as Manager, Director, Speaker) but explain to students that all members will share leadership responsibilities. This means that each group member will need to ensure the project stays on track and should be able to explain how results were achieved. Each group member should be aware of how each member of their group is performing.
Assign group members with the following roles:
Part B: Ideation - 50 Ideas in 5 Minutes
Step 1. Now that students have identified the action they are interested in, they need to start thinking about what they need to do to make it happen. This activity will guide them in brainstorming ideas by completing the '50 ideas in 5 minutes' challenge.
Students will work in their groups to come up with as many different and varied ideas as possible in 5 minutes. The ideas can be as abstract and off-the-wall as students like, but they should also add some practical and realistic ideas too. The aim is to have as many as possible, with a view to being able to choose one that can be developed, refined and put into action.
The group brainstorm could be run like this:
Give each group a piece of butcher's paper and each person a pen/pencil.
- Before starting the countdown, ask students to write their action on the top of their piece of paper.
- Students should stand around the tables rather than sit in their chairs as this encourages more creative thinking.
- They should:
- Write everything down as fast as possible on the butcher's paper.
- Work fast: they only have 5 minutes and they need 50 ideas.
- Do not discuss the ideas at this stage ... just get them recorded.
- Give time markers as they progress - "Three minutes left! Two minutes! One minute left!" You could project a countdown of 5 minutes using this online stopwatch.
- Share a rough figure of how many ideas have been generated across the whole class - remind students how productive they can be in 5 minutes.
- You could offer a prize for the group that creates the most ideas within the 5 minutes.
Hot tip: If you have time, you could run this brainstorming challenge in its traditional form: 100 ideas in 10 minutes!
Step 2. Once groups have completed the '50 ideas in 5 minutes' challenge, ask each group to spend the rest of the brainstorming time viewing and discussing their list of ideas.
Invite each student to nominate their favourite ideas by:
- Drawing a star next to the idea they think is the most creative
- Drawing a smiley face next to the idea that they like best
Step 3. Explain to students that each group will be selecting one idea to bring to life. It is important that each group selects an idea that is feasible and realistic to complete within the time frame. One way to do this is by using the S.M.A.R.T. project criteria.
Ask each group to use the S.M.A.R.T. project criteria to select one idea that they will complete. Explain to students that S.M.A.R.T. project criteria can help focus on what you what to achieve, how you will achieve it, how long it will take and how you will measure your group's success.
Step 4. Explain to students that if any of the ideas don't stand up to the S.M.A.R.T. criteria they should be discarded. If they have more than one idea that stands up to the S.M.A.R.T. criteria then the group should decide fairly on which one to choose. If none of the ideas stand up to the S.M.A.R.T. criteria then groups will need to adjust or adapt existing ideas to meet the criteria.
Part C: Project Planning
Step 1. Write the above quote on the board and explain to students that now they have developed an idea for action it’s time to start planning a project around this action. Students might need to conduct research or talk to people in order to plan their project properly, for example, to find out why the action is significant or to talk through any challenges or sensitivities. Teachers should be available to guide students at this stage.
Step 2. Using the idea developed and refined in Part B, groups should complete the Project Planning Tool. These should be printed and each group needs to fill in their own copy.
Some tips for supporting groups through the project planning phase:
Part D: Execute the Project
After students have completed the planning process, allow time for students to action their projects. This could be done in one day or over a number of weeks to complete the project. The Project checklist can be used to help groups complete their project.
Consider the following tips when supporting students through the implementation phase of their projects:
1. Give students the opportunity to present their learning in a public arena. This could designing and creating an exhibition where the process and final products of students' projects are displayed as posters. It could mean creating a newsletter about students' projects and distributing it to the school community. Another option could be producing and screening a two-minute film that documents students' projects.
2. Invite students to complete the project reflection and personal refection (available on the Student Worksheet). Each student should complete both sets of reflection questions independently.
- How does our project help to reduce the amount of energy our school uses?
- What impact did our project have?
- Was our project a success? Why or why not?
- What did I learn during the implementation of our project?
- What parts of the project were the most successful and why?
- What parts of the project were the least successful and why? How would we improve these parts?
- How would we improve the project overall?
- What challenges did we face and how did we overcome them?
- How could we extend our project?
- What did I learn about using less energy at our school or in our classroom?
- How did I work in the group?
- What would I do differently next time?
- What was the best part of working on this project and why?
- What was the worst part and why?
- What impact did I have?
- What am I most proud of?
Finally, congratulate your students on their efforts and remind them to be proud of what they achieved, even if they didn't achieve all they hoped to. Making change is hard and efforts to make change should be acknowledged and celebrated.