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Unit of work

Energy awareness

Computer systems, Global Goals, Mathematics, Programming, Sciences | MakeCode, Python | 7-11 yrs, 11-14 yrs, 14-16 yrs

Lessons summary

A unit of 4, 5 or 6 lessons exploring energy use around us. Students learn how we can monitor our use of energy and use this to make decisions about how we can save energy, save money and have a positive impact on climate change.

Students use micro:bits to monitor electric light use, learn about how to collect good data and present it in order to help inform decisions about changing behaviours.

Depending on the time available and age group, you can choose which lessons to do:

  • In lessons 1 to 4 students collect data about how long lights are left on. These lessons are suitable for ages 7-16.
  • In lesson 5, students then build on this to calculate energy usage in kWh and cost of energy used. This lesson is suitable for ages 11-16.
  • In lesson 6, students collate all their findings in order to present recommendations to their peers, school leadership or parents. This lesson is suitable for all ages.

After completing the unit, students could design their own solutions using technology to collect data about other kinds of energy use, for example for heating or transport and could enter the do your :bit global challenge.

Before starting the unit it will be useful for the teacher to:

  • Identify possible locations for placing light monitors: areas where you get a large difference in light levels when lighting is turned on and off are best, e.g. away from windows, as close as possible to electric lighting. A large windowless storage area or walk-in cupboard would be ideal.
  • If you can, try and find out what kind of lighting the area has, for example if it is incandescent, fluorescent or LED lighting.
  • For lesson 5, find out how many Watts the lighting uses. For example a fluorescent lighting tube could be rated anywhere between 8W and 80W.
  • Also for lesson 5, find out how much you are paying for electricity, the unit cost per kWh (kilowatt hour), or set this as a research challenge for the students.
  • You may be able to get guidance from the people who maintain your school building and get your students to help discover some of this information as part of the activities.

Learning objectives

  • to understand Global Goal 13 (climate action) and why it's relevant to us
  • to think about energy use around us and how we can use data to make decisions and drive change in behaviours
  • to understand what ‘good data’ looks like and plan the collection of good data
  • to collect, process and analyse data, visualising it to make it easier to interpret and present.
  • to use the information collected to make suggestions for reducing energy use, saving money and reducing our impact on climate change
  • to calculate energy use in kWh and cost
  • to present complex findings and demonstrate skills used in a way that is appropriate to a given audience
  • can understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including abstraction, logic, algorithms and data representation
  • are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology

Additional skills

Researching, presenting, collaboration, evaluation.

You will need

Downloadable resources:

  • Lesson slides
  • Lesson plan
  • Student handouts
  • HEX files

Other resources:

  • micro:bit battery packs
  • micro:bits
  • paper - writing (optional)
  • pens (optional)
  • spreadsheet (optional)
  • student work from previous lesson