Grade: Middle
Subject: Mathematics

#1365. Energy Conservation

Mathematics, level: Middle
Posted Tue Oct 26 07:02:29 PDT 1999 by Cynthia Addison (
Watts Up Energy Project
Co-nect Schools, Cambridge, MA
Materials Required: Access to school electric meter,spreadsheet program (optional)
Activity Time: 4 week long project, 40 minutes a day
Concepts Taught: conservating electricity, analyzing data

This project will take approximately four weeks. In preparation for the project, you need to:

1.Locate the school electric meter. It is probably in the basement or furnace room, and it is probably locked up. The custodian will be able to locate it and will have the key to unlock the cage where it is located.

2.Learn to read the electric meter, and teach the students how to read the meter. You might want to use the meter reading worksheet.

Week One of the Project

After introducing students to the project using the above activity:

1.Break students into groups to take turns reading the electric meter six times a day at regularly scheduled intervals. Obviously, this exercise will be difficult during after school hours, but try to read the meter as close to the end of the day as possible and then again first thing in the morning. A possible plan might be a first reading at 8am and then measurements at the intervals of 8-10am, 10-noon, noon-2pm, 2pm-4pm, 4pm-8am. Assigning students meter readings once during classtime and then again at recess, lunch, and before and after school may help limit the amount of class time spent taking meter readings.

2.Post the readings on a classroom chart.

3.Figure out the amount of electricity used during each time period and during the entire day. Have students begin by doing energy activity two.

4.Keep track of the average outdoor temperature for the week.

5.Sometime during this week, have students should post an introduction in the introduction area of the website. Please write one introduction for the entire class. A good introductory letter will include the following information: 1)school name and location (with latitude and longitude) 2) information about the school -- number of
students, age of students, type of school, etc. 3) information about students -- interests, activities, etc. 4) information on the school community 5) information on the city or town where the school is located. What's unique about your area? It often works well to have
different groups of students work on different parts of the introductory letter.

Weeks 2 and 3

During weeks 2 and 3 of the project:

1.Enter your electricity data into a spreadsheet and graph the results.

2.Submit your electricity use results to the Project Data Table.

3.Determine the total cost of electricity for the week. You will need to
know the cost per KWH of electricity that your local utility company
charges you. Call or email them to get that information. This would
be the perfect time to invite a representative from the electric
company to speak to the class. Usually electric companies are very
happy to send someone to the school to talk about saving
electricity. Here is a report from one school that invited an electric
company representative to their classroom.

4.Do some research on how to save electricity either by inviting in a
guest speaker or using these web resources. Use this electricity
chart to get an idea of how much electricity different appliances use.
Practice estimating electricity use of different appliances at school.

5.As a class, devise an electrical conservation plan. The goal is to try
and cut back electricity use schoolwide. Create signs, write
announcements, and engage in the other pre-planning that will help
make conservation week successful.

Final Week

During the final week of the project:

1.Implement your schoolwide energy conservation plan.

2.Calculate the KWH's used during this week.

3.Share your results with schools around the world by posting the
data in the project data table. Compare your results with others
around the world.

4.As a final activity, draft a report to the school board making them
aware of your project and the amount of energy you were able to
save in a week using your conservation plan. Figure out how much
electricity (and, therefore, money) you would be able to save over
the course of the whole year. Request that the saved funds be used
for schoolwide activities.

5.At the end of the unit, teachers may wish to take students through
the energy assessment activities and compare students work with
the pre-test activity.