Lesson Overview: Students will use play money to understand the dollar cost of their energy habits.
Time: 20–30 minutes
Vocabulary: utility, save, spend
Students have a hard time understanding how much energy they are using if it is not tied to dollar amounts. They know how much a candy bar, a pair of shoes or a movie ticket costs. In this lesson they will use play energy money to learn some of the dollar amounts attached to a shower, the refrigerator or their pool. The dollar amounts for this game are based on amount of energy used multiplied by the state average for electricity costs.
Note: you may want to delete questions or change them depending on students in your area. If you know no one has a pool at home you may want to omit that question, however if you do ask it, the students will see how much they are saving by not having a pool.
How much the student learns from this depends on you. If you quickly discuss the “why’s” of the questions with the students they will have a better understanding of how to change their energy practices. Stress to the students that this is a game for them to see how much extra energy they really use. So it is best if they answer the questions honestly. If this was real money, and students could use any money that they could save, what would they do?
Utility companies produce good pamphlets with energy saving tips. You could get copies for your students to take home as a follow-up to this activity. Alternatively, ask students to write down those behaviors that "cost" them money to the utility. They can bring that list home and discuss what they learned about the costs of electricity.