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Day 4: Students examine their own energy consumption and conservation


Language Arts, Science, Social Studies  


7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Do Something about… the Environment 10-Day Unit
Day 4: If the shoe fits… Learning about Ecological Footprints
By – Jordyn Wells/Do Something, Inc./
Primary Subject – Science
Secondary Subjects – Science, Social Studies
Grade Level – 7-12

Unit Information:

      The following lesson is the fourth lesson of a 10-day

      Environment Curricula from Do Something, Inc.

      Other lessons in this unit are as follows:

Day 1: Introduction

      Introduction to global warming, energy conservation and how rising temperatures affect us locally

Day 2: Its Getting Hot In Here! – The Science of Global Warming

      Students learn about greenhouse gases and the power of language

Day 3: The Consequences of Global Warming

      Students learn about the potential consequences of global warming

Day 4: If the shoe fits… Learning about Ecological Footprints
(See the lesson below)

      Students examine their own energy consumption and conservation

Day 5: How Green Is Your School

      Students learn how schools can participate in energy conservation

Day 6: Energy Hog – Who’s using up all the energy?

      Students compare U.S. energy use to that of other countries

Day 7: Renewable Energy Sources

      Students explore different types of renewable energy sources

Day 8: Renewable Energy – How Do You See It?

      Students discuss the pros/cons of renewable energy

Day 9: The Politics of Energy Conservation

      Students debate the pros/cons of government involvement in energy conservation

Day 10: Presentation Day

    Students present their energy conservation projects

Lesson 4: If the shoe fits… Learning about Ecological Footprints


  • Students will examine their own energy consumption and think about ways they can conserve energy


  • Geography Standard 18: Understands global development and environmental issues


  • Ecological Footprint : a way of measuring human demands on natural resources.


      1. Heat it up:

        Begin a discussion by asking students to contemplate their own energy use? Have them think of their morning and list all the energy they used. For example, do they have an alarm clock? Which lights did they turn on? How long was their shower? Did they take food from the refrigerator? Did they drive to school?

      2. Provide Background:

        Begin by describing the concept of an ecological footprint. Explain to students that ecological footprints have been done on a global, national and individual level. A nation’s footprint is calculated using its population, the amount consumed by the average resident, and the amount of resources used in providing good and services required to meet people’s consumption. Also included is the area required to absorb the CO2 that is released due to fossil fuel burning.

        3. Have students

 find out their ecological footprint.

        Discuss with class:

        a. How did they compare to their national average?

        b. How many earths would we need if everyone lived the same way they did?

        c. What are some things they do that increased their score? What are some things they do that decreased it?

      4. Calculate the overall score of the class.

        Tell them that through the course of the year, they will work to decrease this score, so as to have less of a detrimental effect on the environment.

      5. Synthesize:

        After students have determined their footprint, discuss what contributes to a “deeper” ecological footprint. Using the categories from the website (Food, Mobility, Transportation, Shelter, and Goods and Resources) have students think of ways that they could conserve energy.

      6. After students have listed options for each category, have each student personally arrange what they would be most willing to do/change in their life to what they would be least willing to do.
      7. Have students choose one action to try for the week and then report back on their outcome. Inform other students by creating “footprint” signs that show how other students can help conserve energy through simple actions.
    8. Take Action:

      How can the class get others to be more aware of their energy use? Is there a way/venue to provide an ecological footprint reading for students?

E-Mail Do Something, Inc. !

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