From Coal to Outlet: Energy Conservation in the Home and School

Created by: Ashley Ashbeck

C&I 371

Spring 2009

We are constantly becoming a more electrified society.  There is a growing focus being placed on sustainable living, and scientific research is being directed toward replacing non-renewable energy resources with renewable.  One non-renewable resource, coal, contributes to over 50% of the electricity produced and consumed by society, and its deposits are being depleted at an exponential rate.  It’s important for students to understand where most of their electricity is coming from, and to become conscious of their energy usage and how to reduce that usage, but even more importantly, why they should care about conserving energy.


This unit poses the following questions for students to react to:

·         What is ENERGY?

·         What does it mean to SAVE ENERGY?

·         What impacts does coal mining have on the land?

·         Why is coal a non-renewable energy resource?

·         How much energy do I use in the classroom? At home?

·         What can I do to reduce how much energy I use?


Standards Addressed With This Unit:

Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Standards

·         Give examples of how economic resources in the home, school, and community are limited (scarcity) and how people must make choices about how to use these resources.

·         List ways they can participate responsibly in their community (recycling, litter pick-up, planting trees, flowers, etc.).

·         Describe the difference between goods and services and identify the people who provide them.

·         Demonstrate growth in the use of language—ask for clarification and explanation of words and ideas; extend speaking vocabulary.

·         Write to communicate ideas—generate ideas.

·         Use communication skills effectively—asks and responds to questions in group settings; initiate conversation with peers and adults; follow rules for conversation; use appropriate voice level in group settings.

·         List ways they can participate responsibly in their community (recycling, litter pick-up, planting trees, flowers, etc.)

UW-Madison Teacher Standards

·         STANDARD 5: EXPLAINS AND JUSTIFIES EDUCATIONAL CHOICESTeachers can articulate and defend their curricular and instructional choices with sound ethical and pedagogical justifications.

·         STANDARD 6: CONNECTS SCHOOL AND COMMUNITYTeachers use the knowledge and abilities necessary for collaboration with individuals, groups and agencies within the school and community. They base instruction of students on an understanding of curricular goals, subject matter and the community, and help the students make connections between community-based knowledge and school knowledge.

·         STANDARD 7: UNDERSTANDS AND ADAPTS TO MULTIPLE FORMS OF COMMUNICATIONTeachers understand and adapt to students’ multiple forms of expressing and receiving experiences, ideas and feelings.

·         STANDARD 9: MANAGES LEARNING ENVIRONMENTTeachers establish and maintain an environment that engages students in learning while providing for their physical and socio-emotional well-being.


Wisconsin DPI Social Studies Standards

·         A.4.4 Describe and give examples of ways in which people interact with the physical environment, including use of land, location of communities, methods of construction, and design of shelters.

·         A.4.9 Give examples to show how scientific and technological knowledge has led to environmental changes, such as pollution prevention measures, air-conditioning, and solar heating

·         C.4.6 Locate, organize, and use relevant information to understand an issue in the classroom or school, while taking into account the viewpoints and interests of different groups and individuals.

·         D.4.3 Identify local goods and services that are part of the global economy and explain their use in Wisconsin

D.4.7 Describe how personal economic decisions, such as deciding what to buy, what to recycle, or how much to contribute to people in need, can affect the lives of people in Wisconsin, the United States, and the world.

Unit Lessons:

Lesson 1: What is Energy?

Lesson 2:Where Does Coal Come From?

Lesson 3: How Does a Piece of Coal Become Electricity?  

Lesson 4:How Much Electricity Do I Use?

Lesson 5:What Can We Do To Save Energy?