E.ON Energy Experience e-newsletter | may_2008 2007
Teaching Ideas E.On Energy Experience Current Energy issues curriculum Support Amazing facts
Bringing the world of energy into teaching

Welcome to the June 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

Brain Gym

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!

Suggested activities


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.

Current energy issues

The Town of Total Darkness

In summer 2008, pupils in primary schools across the country will be visited by E.ON’s Town of Total Darkness theatre tour.

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

This year’s tour builds on the success of the 2007 tour, in which the team reached 6,000 primary school pupils in 44 schools.

Town of Total Darkness theatre tour

Current energy issues

Nobel Peace Prize money will be put to good use

The 28th Meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was held in Budapest on 9–10 April. Topics on the agenda included:

  • The future of the IPCC, the IPCC Bureau and the IPCC work programme
  • Use of funds from the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Consideration of plans for a special report on renewable energy
  • Action taken by the IPCC Bureau meeting (7–8th April) regarding the finalisation of the Technical Paper on Climate Change and Water.

The next meeting will be held in Switzerland on 1–4 September.

Kyoto Protocol Project Milestone

The Kyoto Protocol’s ‘Clean Development Mechanism’ (CDM) has registered its 1,000th project, an energy efficiency project in Andhra Pradesh, India. It is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 34,000 tonnes annually.

CDM projects have so far generated more than 135 millions certified emission reductions. 1000 projects, in 49 countries, have been started within the last 2½ years.

US Climate Change Meeting split on 2050 goals

At the US-led meeting in Paris in April, there was a split on the United Nations goal to halve world greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Developing nations said they would not sign up to the goal unless the United States made a much greater effort to cut emissions which come mainly from burning fossil fuels. President Bush was criticised for setting only a 2025 ceiling to halt the rise in US emissions.

‘Plastic Soup’

Further to the alarming facts about plastic bags in the oceans that we mentioned in the last newsletter, scientists now tell us that we are ingesting toxins from ocean-borne plastic through our food. Even when plastic breaks down into microscopic pieces, it still does not dissolve but is ingested by every single organism in the world’s oceans. These plastic fragments now out-weigh plankton by 6 to 1.

Toxins from the plastic leach into the bodies of plankton feeders and so the toxins simply move up a level in the food chain when the plankton feeders themselves get eaten. As the toxins move up the food chain the toxins become more and more concentrated so that life at the top of the food chain (us) takes in the most. Scientists have now nicknamed vast parts of the world’s oceans as ‘Plastic Soup’.

Sources: Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change www.ipcc.ch, United Nations (Kyoto Protocol) www.unfccc.int, ABC News www.abc.net, "Plastic Soup" – various websites including www.thestudioonthegreen.com and www.plasticbagfree.com

Curriculum support

Without direct curriculum guidance on global warming and climate change in the primary curriculum, schools need to build on the links which are available. It is important to ensure that we lay the foundations of awareness and understanding for these vitally important subjects with young children. The following links will provide you with a way into teaching pupils about the impact of climate change and sustainable development together with ways to encourage them to play their part enthusiastically as responsible global citizens.


Geography: Knowledge and understanding of environmental change and sustainable development – recognising how people can improve the environment and how decisions about places and the environment affect the future quality of peoples’ lives; recognising how and why people seek to manage the environment sustainably, identifying opportunities for their own involvement.

Citizenship: Preparing to play an active role as citizens and developing confidence and responsibility in their abilities to do so.


Environmental Studies: (People and Place): Human/physical interactions – Developing an understanding of the interaction between human and the earth’s natural environment; land use, resources and change, environmental issues and sustainability.

Environmental Studies: (People and Society): Developing informed attitudes – social and environmental responsibility.


Geography: (Themes): Environmental issues – including why demands on the environment arise and the need for sustainable management of the environment. Resource issues – including sources and supply and the effects of exploitation of a resource and Global environmental change –including causes and potential effects of environmental change and international response to sustainable development.

PSHE: (Community aspect): Encouraging pupils to become active citizens in local to global contexts; (Environmental aspect): Pupils will be taught about sustainability and responsible use of the environment.

Amazing facts

Did you know that...?

  • As the Arctic ice cap continues to melt beautiful animals such as the polar bear, seal and penguin are likely to become endangered species.
  • The African elephant is becoming endangered by the longer dry seasons caused by climate change.
  • Even in our own country animals such as otters and brown hares and wading birds may become endangered as wetlands dry up with rising temperatures.

But have you also stopped to realise that...

  • Endangered means there is still time

Sources: www.worldviewofglobalwarming.org, www.defenders.org/wildlife, www.cbd.int


© E.ON UK plc 2008