E.ON Energy Experience e-newsletter | April 2007
Teaching Ideas E.On Energy Experience Current Energy issues curriculum Support Amazing facts
Bringing the world of energy into teaching

Welcome to the April 2008 edition of the E.ON Energy Experience e-newsletter for primary teachers across England, Scotland and Wales. The newsletter aims to keep you up to date with the latest energy issues and relate these to your curriculum needs.

Teaching ideas

Suggested activities


Tackle the concept of energy, why we need it and why we must not waste it. Work with your pupils to ensure they understand what energy is and how we use it in our lives.

Can the children identify all the different uses for electricity in their homes and their schools? Where else do they see the uses of electricity?

Do pupils know why we should not waste energy? Can they think of ways to save energy?

When they have this basic understanding of energy, you can move on to looking at the different sources of energy:


Work with your pupils to clarify the difference between non-renewable and renewable sources of energy. Can they name the different sources? Do they understand which sources have led to environmental damage and climate change and why? Make sure they can identify the non-renewable sources of energy which we have depleted and also the sources we are now trying to use to help combat climate change.

Can pupils suggest how they can participate as responsible young people in finding ways to combat climate change? Can they help by reducing their own energy usage? How can communities help?

These topics will give a good grounding for understanding the various types of energy source available and why renewable sources are so important. Once your pupils have grasped this they can begin investigating some of the initiatives associated with changing to renewable sources.

Brain Gym

This brain gym activity could get pupils thinking about some of the problems caused by plastic bags.

Tell your pupils that plastic bags are made from petroleum which is a non-renewable natural source of energy found underground. Making them uses up our limited natural energy resources. Extracting the petroleum and producing the bags is harmful to the environment. Plastic bags can also cause a litter problem. Ask your pupils to imagine that it’s a windy day and they are walking to school:

You are doing a litter project at school and this morning you are very aware of all the plastic bags flapping about in the wind. There’s one caught up high in the tree, one in your neighbour’s front garden, another over there in the hedge and now even another caught around the back of your ankles. Let’s pick them up!

  • Stretch up with your right hand to get the one in the tree to your left
  • Lean across with your left hand to get the one in the garden to your right
  • Cross your right arm back for the one in the hedge on your left
  • Turn round and bend down with your left hand for the bag caught round your right foot

And again!

Current energy issues

The Town of Total Darkness

In summer 2007 over 6,000 primary school pupils in 44 schools across the Midlands were visited by E.ON’s Town of Total Darkness theatre tour.

During the performances, the children help as two detectives, who have travelled in a time machine to 2030, work out why all the lights have gone out and what we can do now to stop this from happening.

Due to the success of the tour, E.ON will be running the Town of Total Darkness again in selected areas in 2008:

  • Birmingham (9–13 June)
  • Coventry (16–20 June)
  • Sheffield (23–27 June)
  • Bolton (30 June–4 July)
  • Leicester (7–9 July)
  • Ashford (10–11 July)

Town of Total Darkness theatre tour

If you live in one of these areas, you can register your interest in a visit from the tour by emailing liveteam@edcoms.co.uk. Visits are subject to availability.

Current energy issues

Nobel Peace Prize for Al Gore and the IPCC

The close of 2007 saw the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert (Al) Gore Jr. They were awarded the prize for ‘for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change’.

United Nations Climate Change Conference

The United Nations Climate Change Conference took place in Bali in December and brought together representatives of over 180 countries. After Australia’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol just before the conference, it only remained to bring the United States onboard. The US made a last minute u-turn and the conference succeeded in agreeing the adoption of the ‘Bali Roadmap’. This initiates a two-year process of negotiations designed to agree a new set of emissions targets to replace those in the Kyoto Protocol.

The agreement is being seen by many as a vital step forward by the participating nations, though environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth do not believe that it has gone far enough.

Climate Change Bill

The British government introduced the Climate Change Bill into the House of Lords last November and the aim is to receive Royal Assent by early summer of 2008. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has committed Britain to meeting EU targets for 2020 on boosting renewable energy and cutting carbon emissions. A Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has been set up as part of the Climate Change Bill, to assess independently how the UK can optimally achieve its emissions reductions goals for 2020 and 2050.

Plastic bags

The damage to the environment caused by production of plastic bags is particularly topical at the moment. The 2008 Budget stated that laws will be introduced by 2009 to tax plastic bags if shops do not do more to charge for their use. See ‘Teaching ideas’ and ‘Amazing facts’ to help your pupils understand the controversy more fully.

Sources: Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change www.ipcc.ch, BBC News news.bbc.co.uk, United Nations www.unfccc.int and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs www.defra.gov.uk

Curriculum support

The UK Government, the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Executive sent copies of ‘An inconvenient truth’, Al Gore’s film about climate change, to all secondary schools as part of the nationwide ‘Sustainable Schools Year of Action’. This decision was challenged in the High Court of Justice, on the basis that it is a political film, and is not impartial. In October 2007 Justice Michael Burton ruled that the film could be shown if accompanied by guidance notes.


A recent report by Ofsted has said that Geography is the least well taught subject in both primary and secondary schools, with pupils not learning about important global issues such as climate change, famine and flooding.

The report states: ‘The global dimension remains underdeveloped in the majority of schools surveyed. Frequently, insufficient connections are made between the wider curriculum and the geography curriculum to reinforce pupils’ understanding of issues such as global citizenship, diversity, human rights and sustainable development’.


Pupils from three schools gave presentations at the recent Scottish Parliament event ‘Our Environment – Our Future’. The event was designed to allow youngsters to feed into decision making around topics including climate change, renewable energy and flooding. Scotland’s pupils were also offered the chance to win internships with the country’s leading investment manager (and MP3 players) in exchange for their thoughts on climate change. Pupils’ views were sought on the following subjects:

  • Do you believe technology can solve global warming?
  • "Wind turbines might save the planet, but they ruin the look of the countryside." Should we take this argument seriously?
  • How can we fight climate change if we need our economy to keep growing?


The Welsh Assembly’s Revised Curriculum for 3–19s, due to commence in September 2008, will include teaching for sustainable living and active global citizenship right through from the foundation stage.

Amazing facts

Did you know that...?

  • Replacing a light bulb with a compact fluorescent tube will result in using 1/5 less power and it will last 8 to 10 times longer.
    Source: http://www.sustainablewales.org.uk/
  • Under optimum conditions, one tonne of waste can produce up to 150–200 cubic metres of landfill gas.
    Source: www.uk-energy-saving.com/landfill_gas.html
  • Installing loft insulation to a depth of at least 15cm can save you about 20% of your heating costs.
    Source: www.sepa.org.uk/green/facts_figures.htm
  • If it could be harnessed, enough sunlight falls on the Earth in just one hour to meet world energy demands for a whole year!
    Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/
  • The total power of waves breaking around the world’s coastlines is estimated at 2–3 million megawatts. The west coasts of the US and Europe and the coasts of Japan and New Zealand are good sites for harnessing wave energy.
    Source: http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energyfacts/sources/renewable/ocean.html
  • Currently, only 1.3% of Britain’s total energy demand (which includes transport and heating as well as electricity) is met by renewable energy. This is the third lowest figure in Europe, behind Malta and Luxembourg.
    Source: Independent 24/1/08
  • Estimates suggest that a 10-mile barrage on the Severn river could provide around 5% of Britain’s electricity demand on its own.
    Source: Independent 24/1/08
  • Energy use in Italy has dropped 5% since smart meters were installed in its 30 million homes. If this was mirrored in Britain, National Grid believes it could save £8billion in reduced energy bills and 35 million tonnes of carbon by 2020.
    Source: Guardian 20/2/08
  • Plastic bags take up to 1,000 years to decompose on land and 450 years to decompose in water.
    Source: http://www.plasticbageconomics.com/ and http://www.earthresource.org/
  • Plastic bags make up 80% of litter on land and 90% of the litter in the ocean.
    Source: http://www.plasticbageconomics.com/ and http://www.earthresource.org/
  • It is estimated that over 100,000 different birds, seals and whales die each year from eating plastic bags. The bags do not decompose with the animal and so they emerge to re-float and kill again.
    Source: http://www.plasticbageconomics.com/ and http://www.earthresource.org/
  • Turtles confuse plastic bags for jellyfish which are their primary food source. Once they ingest a plastic bag, the turtles suffocate and die.
    Source: http://www.plasticbageconomics.com/ and http://www.earthresource.org/

Other sources:

Curriculum news and initiatives:
TES www.tes.co.uk

Information on plastic bags:


© E.ON UK plc 2008