Footprint Futures

Footprint Futures
The key stage 2 and 3 eco-footprint teaching resource from the Centre for Alternative Technology

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Module 3: Energy

Pupils will discover which everyday activities are most energy intensive and be motivated to reduce their energy footprint. They will find out that some activities have a bigger impact than others, and that these are not always in accordance with popular belief. They will find out about different types of renewable energy and experiment with practical renewable energy models that generate electricity. They will further develop interview skills, and develop a regional energy plan taking into account what they have learned.


Pupils will understand:

  • That solar water heating panels have a black surface, insulation, and clear glass to increase heat efficiency
  • Which day to day activities use most energy - heating and cooling, transport, food and the embodied energy of the ‘stuff’ that we buy.
  • That ‘embodied energy’ means the amount of energy that has been used to make a product from start to finish.
  • Which daily activities have a comparatively small energy footprint – lighting, electric gadgets.
  • That Britain could be powered completely by renewables if 50% energy savings are made.
  • The basics of how different renewable energy technologies work – eg wind, solar, tidal, wave, biomass
  • Number skills to calculate energy mix needed
  • Practical skills to assemble renewable energy models
  • Interviewing skills
  • Debating skills

You will need
You are encouraged to acquire additional resources and materials to make the project relevant to your school. These are described in each activity and also listed here:

1. Solar Power Cans

  • 4 aluminium drink cans of which:
    • 3 are painted with matt black paint (or blackboard paint) of which:
    • 2 have been insulated with pieces of insulation that is safe to handle – sheeps wool for example covering the back half or two thirds of the can of which:
    • 1 is placed in a clear plastic bag or container  such as a clear 2l bottle with the bottom cut off
  • Thermometer
  • Recording sheet

3. The Green House

  • Downloadable activity from CAT (coming soon)

4. Walk the walk

6. Power Up! – Solar Power

  • Whole class in groups
  • Small photovoltaic cells, motors, crocodile clips and propellers (available from the Centre for Alternative Technology shop and other education suppliers)
  • Clean floatable materials – eg plastic bottles (with lids), cartons and cups and containers, rubber bands

7. Power Up – Wind Power

  • EPK20850
    ‘Wind Kit’ from the Centre for Alternative Technology
    (or a wind power kit from another education supplier)
  • Bits of corriflute plastic and/or other suitable scrap materials like thin card and plastic, scissors, tape.
  • Large electric fan with wide blades, the ones which come in cages designed to sit on the floor are best. (tall bathroom fans with thin blades will not work so well.)

8. Mystery Guest

  • Mystery guest from the sustainable energy industry. This could be someone who works to install renewable energy systems, or an engineer who designs them. It could be someone from the council with responsibility for energy efficiency, or someone who promotes energy efficiency. Or it could be someone from a local group such as Friends of the Earth.

9. Regional plan - energy

  • Hopefully the mystery guest will be able to stay for this session
  • Maps and aerial floor photo mats if you have them
  • Variety of media for recording

Solar Power Cans Solar Power Cans
A day (or half day if the weather is sunny!) long solar water heating demonstration that you will need to prepare in advance. View >>
Energy Footprints Energy Footprints
This slide show demonstrates how most of our energy is currently produced in the UK. View >>
The Green House The Green House
This downloadable activity allows pupils to make energy choices for the home to see how they raise or lower emissions. View >>
Renewable Energy Renewable Energy
This slide show introduces some sources of renewable energy. View >>
Power Up! – Solar Power Power Up! – Solar Power
This is a group activity which allows pupils to investigate solar electricity. View >>
Power Up – Wind Power Power Up – Wind Power
This group activity allows pupils to design and make their own wind turbines that generate electricity. View >>
Mystery Guest Mystery Guest
A visitor from the energy industry is invited to the class to be interviewed by the pupils. View >>
Regional plan - energy Regional plan - energy
The pupils use what they have learned to design a regional sustainable plan for energy. View >>
Report Report
An opportunity for pupils to work in groups or as individuals to report on the days activities. View >>


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