Here is an idea to get pupils thinking about the effects of being too close to a bonfire. Don’t tell them it is linked to the work on pollution that follows; just get them involved in the actions. Hopefully it will help them make connections with the follow-on activities.
Let’s imagine we are around a big bonfire on a windy day. We are being careful and know we mustn’t get too close but hold on a minute, it is getting a bit uncomfortable!
- The wind is blowing the smoke into our eyes. Close your eyes, turn your head to the left and bring your right elbow and shoulder up and forward to keep the smoke out! (Right arm crosses the midline going around the left hand side of the body).
- On no! Now it’s coming from the other direction. Turn your head the other way! Left shoulder forward to stop that smoke! (Left arm crosses the midline going around the right hand side of the body).
- Now it’s making you cough.
- Turn your head back to left, right shoulder forward to keep out the smoke again and cough into your left hand!
- Whoops, the wind has changed again! Turn the other way and cough into your right hand!
It is the pollution caused by burning fossil fuels that is causing damage to our planet. Encourage pupils to name all the sources of pollution that they can and also to identify what the pollution actually looks like.
Check that your pupils understand that pollution is a by product of some forms of energy production. (Do not tackle renewable and non-renewable sources at this stage). Show the connection between excessive use of energy which results in pollution and environmental damage and discuss how to could combat this.
Pupils should work first on the activities which help them understand how energy is wasted.
Explain that pollution and environmental damage are caused by energy produced from particular sorts of fuels called fossil fuels. Explain that pollution can be limited by using other sources – or renewable sources.
Next get your pupils to consider how energy-dependent we are in our lives.
Finally remind your pupils that some sources of energy do much less harm to the environment. Identify some of the main sources of renewable energy (such as the sun and wind) and discuss how these sources will not run out.
Older pupils also need the opportunity to make the connection between the terminology of pollution, environmental damage, global warming and climate change and what they actually mean.
Start in the same way as suggested above for younger pupils but then move on to cover the other concepts. Can they explain what global warming and climate change actually mean? Can they give examples of global warming and climate change in the world today?
Are pupils themselves being affected by climate change? Can they find out more about what has changed by talking to parents and grandparents about the climate they remember as children (smog, acid rain)? Do they know any of the history of the damage caused by fossil fuels? Encourage pupils to see the link between increased use of energy and increased carbon emissions.
Pupils should identify the evidence of pollution and environmental damage caused by wasted energy in their own lives.
Pupils should realise that energy usage has increased dramatically in the last 50 to 60 years, especially with the onset of the ‘technological age’. A visit or talk by grandparents could help really pupils understand this huge difference. The following activity will also help pupils make the contrast.
Now encourage pupils to consider the effects of such increased energy usage across the world. Can we maintain current energy usage without continuing to damage the environment? Point out the dramatic difference between the energy usage of the first and third worlds. Are countries which produce less pollution suffering any less from global warming and climate change?
Pupils could also develop their initial investigations through group work with different groups taking on responsibility for a presentation on a particular aspect of the topic.
The following activities would be helpful for these investigations:
This activity will give pupils an idea of how much energy is used by a community and also encourage them to discuss the relative benefits of using a variety of renewable sources rather than relying on just one.
This activity will help pupils consider a way of generating electricity that is in harmony with both the needs of a community and the environment.
This section will help pupils understand the advantages and disadvantages of the different energy sources. Just make sure you click on the tabs at the bottom of each page to get all the information.
This activity will help pupils recognise the need for forward thinking in order to ensure that we can maintain supplies of energy which will also help prevent continued damage to our world.