Notes on The homeowner
Timing: One lesson for the entire activity
Individually, in pairs or in groups – The students can run through the activities on their own, in pairs or in small groups depending on the number of computers.
As a class – You can use this activity with an interactive whiteboard.
This challenge is based in a house with each room providing a different activity. Students navigate from room to room, solving energy related puzzles and building up credits in their Energy Bank.
The homeowner challenge is made up of the following activities.
What is energy?
- Introduce energy and its different forms
This brief activity can be used as a starter for a lesson on energy. Students can examine the definitions of energy and vote on which one is correct. This can be done by a simple show of hands or by identifying fixed objects in the classroom with particular answers (eg the door is definition one, the window is definition two) and asking students to make their way to the object that corresponds with their answer.
This then leads on to another short activity where objects within the hallway of the house are identified and the user has to identify the types of energy they possess at that time. This can be managed in a similar way to the first part of the activity, with a show of hands.
- Demonstrate energy transformations
This activity is based in the kitchen. Presented on a whiteboard, students can watch the process and then decide what energy transformations are involved by choosing a path through an ‘energy web’. The route can be chosen by class vote. Any wrong turns can then be used as the starting point for a discussion.
- Introduce conduction, convection and radiation
This activity starts with simple animated definitions of conduction, convection and radiation. The definitions are incomplete and require students to choose words to drag and drop in the correct place. This then leads on to a problem with an unlagged hot water cylinder. The task is to keep it warm for as long as possible by choosing from a selection of lagging materials.
The choice of material to be used can be made by class vote.
Where does my energy come from?
- Demonstrate that the type of energy used is dependent on a range of factors
- Illustrate how electricity is distributed
- Introduce different ways of pricing electricity
This activity starts with a jigsaw puzzle showing the different energy resources currently used in the UK. Its completion can be used as a starting point for a discussion as to why certain energy sources can be used in the UK and why some cannot.
This jigsaw leads into a ‘tour’ of the National Grid. This tour is best suited to older or more able students aged 13–14 as there is crossover with content for older students. The tour can be used with younger students but explanations of what is going on at particular points will need to be provided at an appropriate level.
The final part of this activity looks at different price tariffs, with students having to make a choice from three different pricing structures. Making the correct choice will involve students doing some basic arithmetic. If using this part of the activity, it would be advisable to print out the different tariffs so that students can have these as hard copies while they perform the calculations.
Less is best
- Introduce energy conservation methods
This activity can be carried out by class vote. Students can guide the search for hotspots around the house and then vote on the action to be taken at each hotspot. The choices made can be used as the starting point for a discussion about how we can save energy and the consequences of excessive reliance on fossil fuels.
Go to The homeowner
Energy efficient house
Science and geography
Timing: One lesson and homework
- Tie together a range of topics including ways to generate electricity, energy transfers and transformations
- Plan for an energy efficient house
In groups – Students work as a team of architects to plan an energy efficient house.
They can research methods of electricity generation to find suitable ways of giving a house the capacity to generate its own electricity. They will need to appreciate how heat can be transferred from place to place and what can be done to limit unwanted heat transfers.
When considering the range of energy sources, they should consider the climate and whether it will be possible to generate that energy where their house is located.
They will also need to realise that energy is dispersed or ‘wasted’ whenever it is transformed into another type of energy.
As an overarching requirement, they will also need to appreciate the reasons why people should examine their energy efficiency and the energy sources they use.
You can suggest they consider loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, double glazing and different types of boiler. This can bring in ecological considerations such as pollution and climate change.
Download Activity card 6: The homeowner: Energy efficient house