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Lesson Time: 45-75 minutes




Understand the relative amounts of energy used and saved by reusing, reducing, and recycling.


Understand that energy is used to produce finished products.


Investigate different material and manufacturing choices use different amounts of energy.


  • Piper Computer Kit

  • Journals or note-taking space for student reflection

  • Paper (scrap/used paper is preferred)

  • Read the resources yourself, and make sure you understand the energy calculations.

  • The suggested student to kit ratio is 2:1 up to 3:1. Students are in the same teams as before or make adjustments as necessary to facilitate good teamwork.

  • Make sure Piper kits are built, connected, functioning, and batteries are charged for the Raspberry Pi and the speaker.


Teacher-led Discussion (15-20 minutes):

Materials and Energy Consumption

First, have students watch these 2 youtube videos:

Note: These videos can also be found on Slide 1 of the Energy Efficiency Lesson 2 Slide Deck


After watching these videos, ask students the following questions:

  • Why do you think the Piper Computer Kit is made with wood?

  • How does the wood design help conserve energy?

  • How does energy conservation help the environment?


Explore: What Materials are used to make electronics?

In this exploration, students will identify the materials used in electronics, including the Piper Computer Kit. 


Tell students:
“The items we use every day are made from different kinds of materials. The materials are chosen for their properties, cost, and, often, their impact on the environment. By choosing materials that require less energy to make, we can help conserve energy and therefore the environment. Energy is used in every step of the process of making a finished product such as a laptop or a cell phone. It all starts with raw materials.”


Jigsaw Activity: Split students up into equal groups and assign them one of the following materials to research:

  • Metal, Plastic, Glass, and Wood


Once students are in their groups, have them conduct research together to answer the following questions: 

  • What is this material used for in daily life and the world around you?

  • How is this material used in the Piper Computer Kit?

  • Where do we find the raw (in its natural form) version of this material?

  • What processes are used to turn the raw material into the final product?


After students complete their research in expert groups, split students up into new groups so that there is one member of each expert group in the new group.

  • Example: first there may be a group of 4 all studying plastic but in the new group, there is now a group of 4 with 1 plastic member and a member from the metal, wood, and glass groups.

In these new groups, have students present to each other and discuss the similarities and differences between their materials.

  • Note: you can create a graphic organizer to help students take notes during this discussion if you think they need more guidance!


Explain (7-10 minutes):

Reflect on the materials used in electronics with slides 4-8  from the Energy Efficiency Lesson 2 Slide Deck.


Have students read this article about why wood is one of the most environmentally friendly materials: https://www.reuters.com/article/climatechange-forests-furniture/ditch-metal-and-plastic-and-turn-to-wood-to-save-the-planet-says-u-n-idUSL8N1A63B3



Engage Prior Knowledge with slide 

  • What does it mean to recycle?

  • What are the benefits of recycling?

  • What are the challenges and barriers to recycling?

  • How does recycling save energy?


Apply: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Tell students: “It is clear that some materials use more energy than others, but let’s look at the numbers."


Here are some numbers for comparison: These numbers can be shown to students on slide 10

The energy required to make 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of each material in each step 2 above is:

  • Metal (steel from ore): 22,000,000 Joules (6100 watt-hours)

  • Plastic (PVC): 25,000,000 Joules (6900 watt-hours)

  • Glass (containers):       4,600,000 Joules (1300 watt-hours)

  • Wood (mixed plywood): 980,000 Joules  (270 watt-hours)

**Source: https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=97&t=3

Walk students through calculations using slides 10-12.


Following calculations, discuss Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling using slides 13-15.


Reflection (5 minutes):

Have students reflect on what they learned using the Exit Ticket on slide 16.