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    Lesson Information
    Outcomes and Standards
    Day Plans
    Enrichment Options
    Teacher Reflection

Stage 1
Identify Desired Results

Catchy Title: We Auto Save Energy
Theme/Topic of Lesson: A Study of Energy Use
Time Commitment: Three 50-Minute Periods/Blocks
Subject Area(s):
    Language Arts
    Social Studies
Grade Level(s): 4,5,6
Standards Alignment:
Class Challenge Question:

What can we do to conserve fuel?


During the 20th century, our country has become more and more dependent upon non-renewal fossil fuels. With the advent of the automobile, Americans began using gasoline in great quantities. Although there was a concentrated effort to conserve gasoline during the late 1970s and 1980s, there has been a gradual decline in the desire of the general public to decrease our use of gasoline.

Most families in areas where mass transit is unavailable are dependent upon the automobile for transportation to and from the workplace. However, we have become a very mobile society, using the automobile for casual trips. Although it is not the intention of this lesson to curtail automobile travel, students should be aware of the declining amount of crude oil and should be able to identify frivolous use as opposed to necessary use of the automobile.

In We Auto Save Energy, students will explore our dependence on the automobile and attempt to discover ways to eliminate unnecessary use in order to conserve our depleting supply of fossil fuels.

Students will compare ways in which we use energy today as opposed to the limited use of energy in 1900. Students will gather data on mileage parents and teachers drive to work and record it using a stem-and-leaf plot. Students will be able to identify the wants and needs of automobile travelers. Students will also use the Internet to research fossil fuels and produce an electronic presentation to inform other students of why energy should be conserved and how they can help.

Additional technology instruction may be needed for those students unfamiliar with the Internet and/or PowerPoint. Other presentation software may be used, such as Hyperstudio, Kid Pix, etc.

Stage 2
Determine Acceptable Evidence

Environmental Science
Maryland Content Standards
Students will use scientific skills and processes to explain the interactions of environmental factors (living and non-living) and analyze their impact from a local to a global perspective.
Maryland State Indicators
explain how natural resources (i.e., renewable and nonrenewable) are used by humans to meet basic needs. (MLO 6.2.)
Knowledge of Statistics
Maryland Content Standards
Students will collect, organize, display, analyze, and interpret data to make decisions and predictions.
Maryland State Indicators
organize and display data using stem and leaf plots and line plots, and line graphs. (MLO 3.2.)
Technology research tools
(Gr. 6-8)
ISTE Technology Standards

5. Technology research tools

  • Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.
  • Students use technology tools to process data and report results.
  • Students evaluate and select new information resources and technological innovations based on the appropriateness for specific tasks.
ISTE Technology Performance Indicators
Use content-specific tool

Use content-specific tools, software, and simulations (e.g., environmental probes, graphing calculators, exploratory environments, Web tools) to support learning and research.

Learning Objectives:

The Students will:
  • The student(s) will be able to?

    Explain how the natural resource gasoline is used by humans to meet basic needs.

    Organize and display data using a stem and leaf plot.

    Analyze and interpret stem and leaf plot.

    Create an electronic presentation to inform other students why gasoline should be conserve


The Stem and Leaf Rubric allows both student and teacher to score the stem and leaf plot generated by each student.

The Presentation Rubric, included with the handouts of this lesson, allows both student and teacher to properly evaluate the slides produced by each pair of students

Stage 3
Plan Learning Experiences


Other TechnologyComputer lab of 15 computers
Multimedia projector
Internet connection
Microsoft PowerPoint
Print MaterialsAlice Ramsey's Grand Adventure

Brown, Don. Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1997.
Describes the difficulties faced by the first woman to make a cross-country journey from New York to San Francisco in an automobile in 1909.


Church, Andrew. Transportation. Milwaukee: Raintree/Steck, 1999.
Shows how current transportation systems could be more environmentally friendly.

Wheels of Time: A Picture Biography of Henry Ford

Gourley, Catherine. Wheels of Time: A Picture Biography of Henry Ford. New York: Millbrook, 1997.

Biography of the U.S. carmaker, illustrated with many period photos and reproductions.

Fossil Fuels

Graham, Ian. Fossil Fuels. Milwaukee: Raintree/Steck, 1999.
Describes the search for additional supplies of coal, oil, and natural gas and efforts to limit pollution from burning fossil fuels.

Henry Ford

Joseph, Paul. Henry Ford. Chicago: Abdo & Daughters, 1996.
Biography of inventor Henry Ford, creator of the automobile.

Stagecoach: The Ride of the Century

Mansir, Richard. Stagecoach: The Ride of the Century. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge Publishing, 1999.

Traces the history of the stagecoach from the revolutionary period to 1910.

Behind the Wheel: Cars Then and Now

Otfinoski, Steve. Behind the Wheel: Cars Then and Now. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 1997.

Journey into the amazing world of transportation and learn about the history and development of automobiles.

Fuels for the Future

Parker, Edward. Fuels for the Future. Milwaukee: Raintree/Steck, 1998.
Explores the limits of fossil fuels and their destructive forces and introduces sustainable, Earth-friendly alternatives.

Get Up and Go: The History of American Road Travel

Whitman, Sylvia. Get Up and Go: The History of American Road Travel. Minneapolis: Lerner Publishing, 1996

Video(s)The Remarkable 20th Century: 1900-1909

PBS Programming. Produced by Passport International Productions, 2000.

Internet SitesA Hotlist on Fossil Fuels

This is a site for students to access all of the links they will need for their research on fossil fuels.

MapQuest provides point-to-point driving directions as well as total mileage. The site also provides maps of any requested area. Students will be able to find the mileage driven from home to work for both parents and teachers.
Time 100: 1900 vs. Now

This site introduces students to data comparing standards of living in 1900 and 1998.
The Energy Story: Fossil Fuels

This Web site gives background information on fossil fuels.
The Cost of a Gallon of Gas

This site gives background information about how gasoline cost is determined. It also allows the students to compare the average cost per gallon in various regions of the United States.
Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Energy Information

This site is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy. It shows cost of gasoline and the outlook for future use.
Learning About Saving Energy

This is a site provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, which gives background information on energy along with helpful ideas of how to save energy.
Department of Energy: Glossary of Fossil Energy

This site gives an extensive glossary for students who may need definitions of terms used in this area.

This site gives students an alternative to traveling to the workplace.
Average MPG for U.S. automobiles

This site gives a graph of the average mpg rating for automobiles from 1972-1997.

Per class
  • Computer lab of 15 computers with Internet access

    Multimedia Projector

    Remarkable 20th Century: 1900-1909. PBS Programming: Produced by Passport International Productions, 2000.

    PowerPoint Presentation of Stem

Per student team/group of 2
  • Fossil Fuel Web Walk: worksheet to be used for fact-finding information while surfing the Web. (Completed version also available.)

    Computer with Internet access

    Floppy disk to save journal entries and PowerPoint slides.

Per Student
  • Home and Work Sheet: to be completed for homework after first lesson.

    Index cards with a teacher's address (no names.)

    Paper for stem-and-leaf plot. May use graph paper, if desired.

    Stem and Leaf Rubric

    Not Specified
    • Team Presentation Notes  (View)
    • Team Presentation Rubric  (View)
    • Fossil Fuel Story Board  (View)
    • Fossil Fuel Web Walk  (View)
    • Home and Work Sheet  (View)
    • Presentation Rubric  (View)
    • Stem and Leaf Powerpoint  (View)
    • Stem and Leaf Rubric  (View)

  • Energy: - Energy is the ability to do work. Stored energy becomes working energy when we use it.
  • Alternative Sources - Ways of making energy without using fossil fuels.
  • Fossil Fuels - Fuels formed in the ground from the remains of dead plants and animals. It takes millions of years to form fossil fuels. Oil, natural gas, and coal are fossil fuels.
  • Fuel - Any material that can be burned to make energy
  • Nonrenewable Fuels - Fuels that cannot be easily made or "renewed." We can use up nonrenewable fuels. Oil, natural gas, and coal are examples of nonrenewable fuels.
  • Oil - A liquid fuel found deep in the earth. Gasoline and some plastics are made from oil.
  • Renewable fuels - Fuels that can be easily made or "renewed." We can never use up renewable fuels. Types of renewable fuels are solar, wind, and hydropower energy.


This lesson includes many different instructional strategies. Students will be working in pairs and collaborative groups while researching, interpreting data, and producing their electronic presentation. Individuals will be responsible for recording data in stem and leaf plots as well as working in a group to create a PowerPoint slides. Each day starts with the teacher asking the students for prior knowledge or reminding them of the knowledge they gained from the prior day’s activities. Technology is integrated throughout the lesson. The class watches a video in order to gain perspective on how travel has changed, students collect information on daily travel of adults they know in order to create a graph, and the students use information on the Internet to collect information which will be used in a class PowerPoint presentation.

All activities are structured to accommodate different learning styles and abilities. Modifications can be implemented throughout these lessons to provide for the success of all students. Heterogeneous groups are a good way to support for lower performing students. Also, the use of graphic organizers and allowing extended time will assist those students with disabilities. Extension activities can be used to enrich the lesson for high achieving students.

This lesson is designed for a computer lab of 15 computers (one computer for every two students.) All computers have Internet access and are equipped with Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint. The lab is also equipped with a multimedia projector for teacher use. If a computer lab cannot be arranged, the students can rotate through any computers available in the classroom. Another situation may require the teacher to print out certain Internet documents and make copies. The class can also create a series of story boards instead of a PowerPoint presentation.

Day 1: The Purpose of Travel
Daily Challenge Question: Why do people travel?

Set-up Directions:

Teacher should have a copy of Remarkable 20th Century: 1900-1909. The clips outlined in Teacher Presentation include only those portions involving transportation and home life. Teacher may want to include other parts of the decade, such as, working conditions, movies, sports, etc., if students are studying those topics in other classes. However, for this lesson, the clips below are recommended. Teacher should also be sure that Inspiration Software is installed on teacher station computer.

Teacher Presentation & Motivation:

Say: "Life is certainly different today than it was many years ago. How many of you go somewhere in the car every day? Let's take a look at some video clips of the early 1900s to see how people traveled. As you watch the clips, watch for as many kinds of transportation that are used. Try to remember by holding a finger up for each kind of transportation."

Activity 1 - Remarkable 20th Century: 1900-1909

During the presentation, students will be asked to keep track on their fingers of the different modes of transportation noted in the presentation.

Focus for Media Interaction
Focus for Media Interaction: The focus for media interaction is a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments, Web sites or other multimedia elements.

The focus for media interaction is a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments, Web sites or other multimedia elements. The focus for this activity is to examine different modes of transportation in the early 1900s.

Viewing Activities
What will your students be responsible for while viewing this piece of multi-media or video?

During the presentation, students will be asked to keep track on their fingers of the different modes of transportation noted in the presentation.

Play the video, Remarkable 20th Century: 1900-1909, at the beginning. When globe appears and narrator says "The political landscape?" fast forward to (8:24) when capitol building appears and play. When Theodore Roosevelt's picture appears and narrator says, "his vice president was Theodore Roosevelt?" fast forward to (16:18) to dark screen after switchboard and play. After Ward's Catalog appears then a dark screen appears, fast forward to (30:20) where people are exiting a movie theatre and play. After airplane clips, when narrator says, "other transportation?" fast forward to (46:25) when Master Card/Visa signs appear and play. When narrator says, "soon half the cars in America were Tin Lizzies?" press Stop.

Post Viewing Activities
How will students utilize the information they gathered while viewing the multi-media or video?

After viewing the presentation, students will use think-pair-share to generate modes of transportation noted in the presentation.

After viewing the short presentation, teacher will ask, "What were some of the ways people traveled?"

Use think-pair-share to have students remember the modes of transportation in the video.

Using Inspiration software, plot responses of all modes of transportation used in 1900s that were seen in video.

Say, "I'd like you to take a minute to think about how the Eastern Shore of Maryland would be different from the transportation seen in the video. Remember that this area of the state was still very rural and the main occupation here was farming." Allow think/pair time.

Then say, "Which of these do you think would not be used on the Eastern Shore at that time?" Cross off those students feel would not be found here. Have students give reasons why they think the transportation would not be available here.

Then say, "Which of the remaining would be used by only a few people here on the Eastern Shore?" Cross off those responses. Have students justify answers.

Say, "Using the web we just made, what would be the most prevalent mode of transportation here in Cambridge in 1900?" Students should respond with horse, horse and wagon, or walking.

Say, "How much gasoline do you think was used by the average family to travel?" Students should overwhelming agree that little to none was used.

Using Inspiration software to plot responses, teacher will ask, "Where are some places that we go today to which we wouldn't have gone in 1900 without a great deal of planning or difficulty?" Allow think/pair time.

Students will generate such answers as: the mall, Ocean City, Easton, Baltimore, Washington, DC, other states, Europe, etc.

Teacher should ask, "What would be the difficulty in traveling to those places in 1900?"

Students will generate such answers as: lack of transportation, no cars, no bridges, no highways, no airplanes, etc.

"It looks as though we go many more places today than people did then. Do we need to go to all of those places? "

Teacher should use think-pair-share when asking students to think of at least two places that we need to go and two places we go because we want to go.

Use Inspiration or Word on the projector to place responses in a t-chart comparing places we need to go and places we want to go. Students may come up with responses for needs, such as work, school, grocery shopping, doctor's office, hospital, etc.

Student responses for wants may be the mall, movies, Wal-Mart, McDonalds, baseball practice, etc.

Each student pair keeps a data journal on disk. Journal is written in Word. Teacher will say, "Together with your partner, write two or three statements about why we need gasoline and how we use it. You will have (5) minutes to complete your entry."

Share some of students' ideas by having one of the pairs voluntarily read their entry.

Wrap Up:

Say "Today we have learned that we use our automobiles for both needed trips and wanted trips. In the early days of this century, people worked at home or close enough to home for them to walk. Since technology was not available at the time, people generally did not travel very far from home. If they did, it had to be a planned trip. It was not even possible for them to say, 'Let's drive to Ocean City for the day.' Since work is a need for all families, tomorrow we will try to find out how far people travel to work every day."

Teacher will distribute Home and Work Sheet and explain that students are to bring their home address along with the address where one adult in their family works.

Day 2: Collecting and Graphing Data
Daily Challenge Question: How much gas does you community use weekly?

Set-up Directions:

Teacher should be sure that the PowerPoint presentation Stem and Leaf Plots is loaded on teacher computer. Data Sheets Word file should also be on teacher computer. An index card should be ready for distribution to each student. Each card should have a different teacher's address (NO NAMES) and the school address.

Teacher Presentation & Motivation:

"Yesterday we learned that we travel a great deal more today than we did in the early 1900s. We also learned that we travel because we want to and also because we need to. One of the places that people need to go is to work. Today we're going to use the Internet to help us find out how far your parents travel to work and also how far the teachers here at school travel to work."

Activity 1 - Stem and Leaf

Teacher will say, "Using your Home and Work Sheet from last night's homework, we're going to collect data for parents first."

Students are to log on to and enter addresses to find the total amount of miles traveled to work for the adult in their family. When they have found the total mileage for that person, they will raise a hand and come up to the teacher's station and enter the data onto the "Parents" block of the Data Sheet Word file that is open and displayed with the multimedia projector.

When data is complete for that group, index cards should be distributed to each student. Each card should have the address of a different teacher (no names) and the address of the school.

Teacher will say, "Now we will use the teachers here at school for another data group. Again, after you complete finding the total mileage for the person assigned to you, raise your hand and come up to enter the data of the "Teachers" side of the data sheet."

Teacher should be circulating during Web surfing and should also oversee the entering of data onto the data sheet.

When data entry is complete, teacher should minimize the data sheet after saving as Class "A" data. (Please note that if you simply "SAVE" the data sheet, you will be unable to use it without erasing data. This is important if you want to use it with another class.) Open the PowerPoint presentation Stem and Leaf Plots.

Before showing the presentation, let students know that they will be making a stem and leaf plot using the data that they have just collected and recorded.

Stem and Leaf Rubrics should be distributed to students at this time so they will know what is expected of them.

Focus for Viewing

The focus for media interaction is a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments, Web sites or other multimedia elements.The focus for today is to determine mileage traveled to work by parents and teachers. In addition, students will use the data gathered to create a stem and leaf plot.Viewing Activities

Students will view the PowerPoint presentation entitled Stem and Leaf Plot PowerPoint to produce a stem and leaf plot using the data gathered. Students will view the presentation once and then complete their stem and leaf plot while viewing the second time.Post Viewing Activities

After viewing the presentation, students will construct a stem and leaf plot.

After students watch the presentation, distribute paper to students for their stem and leaf plots.

Teacher should then right click on the Task Bar and click on "Tile Windows Vertically." This will allow students to see their data along with the PowerPoint presentation.

Students should complete stem and leaf plot while viewing the presentation on a step-by-step basis.

When plots are complete, students are to discuss their graphs in groups of four students. Teacher may direct the discussion by giving students possible questions to ask, such as:

1. Which group travels the farthest to get to work?

2. Why do you think this is so?

3. What are the most miles traveled by an individual?

4. Which stem has the most leaves?

Tell students that a new car in 1997 could travel an average of approximately 25 miles per gallon of gas (25 mpg). Work with students to calculate the amount of gas their parents and teachers weekly.

Each student is then required to write at least one conclusion he/she has drawn in his data journal.

When complete, teacher will have several students share their conclusions.

Wrap Up:

Teacher will say, "Today we have learned that some people travel quite a distance to work and others live very close to their jobs. We also learned that teachers and parents both use a substantial amount of gasoline every week. Tomorrow we will find out about gasoline- what it is, where we get it, and how much of it is left."

Day 3: Day 3
Daily Challenge Question: Can we keep going and going and going?

Set-up Directions:

Teacher should have one copy of the Fossil Fuels Web Walk for each student and be sure that PowerPoint software is installed on every computer in the computer lab.

Teacher Presentation & Motivation:

Teacher will say, "Since we have concluded that we use our automobiles for both needed trips and wanted trips, do you think we will always have enough gasoline to supply our wants and needs? Since gasoline is a fossil fuel, let's use the Internet to find out about fossil fuels-what they are and how we use them."

Activity 1 - Fossil Fuel Web Walk

Distribute one copy of Fossil Fuel Web Walk to each pair of students.

Students are to log on to A Hotlist on Fossil Fuels.

Each pair should complete the Web Walk together. Teacher should be sure that computer time is shared equally. This may be accomplished by a timer or by alternating questions. Teacher should also encourage using a selection of books for additional research.

When Web Walk is complete, students are to meet in discussion groups to be sure that everyone has completed all parts of the walk.

Teacher will say, "If we wanted to show younger students what we've learned from our research, how could we do it?" Teacher should guide students into suggesting a PowerPoint presentation.

Teacher will say, "If we're going to make a presentation, we have to plan what should be in the presentation.

Teacher should then use Inspiration or Microsoft Word to take suggestions from students and arrange the information with their assistance. See Fossil Fuel Story Board for possible design.

Teacher should assign portions to each discussion group.

At this time, teacher should distribute Presentation Rubric for students to review for expectations.

Students will then decide in their group what slides they will do for their portion of the presentation.

If students are not familiar with PowerPoint, teacher may present Making a Slide, which is included in teacher information. I did not see any information on this in teacher information?

Each slide must have at least one complete sentence, one graphic, and be in at least 28-point font. Teacher may determine font that all students should use.

When complete, students are to save slides to disk for teacher to assemble into one presentation.

Teacher will assemble slides into one presentation.

Focus for Media Interaction
Focus for Media Interaction: The focus for media interaction is a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing of video segments, Web sites or other multimedia elements.

Wrap Up:

Teacher will say, "During the past few days, we have learned that gasoline is needed but may not always be available. We've also learned that we can help."

Enrichment Options
Community Connection

Students may present the class PowerPoint presentation to Second and Third Grade classes. Groups of four students will make the presentations to individual classes and answer questions.

Teacher may post the PowerPoint presentation on the class or school Web page.

Cross-Curricular Extensions

Language Arts
Write a letter to the mayor or chamber of commerce suggesting that a school-pool matching system or a car-pool matching system be set up on their web site to make it easier for people to find others to share rides.

Fine Arts
Make posters to hang throughout the building to encourage other students to save gasoline while at the same time educating the school community.

Social Studies
Interview older people to find out what kinds of cars they drove when they were young and how much gasoline cost.

E-mail students in other states to find out how much they use cars and how much gasoline costs per gallon.

Stage 4
Teacher Reflection

As a reflective practitioner, note how this lesson could be adjusted after its initial implementation. How successful were the students? What did the assessment demonstrate about the students’ learning? What skills do the students need to revisit? What instructional strategies worked and what made them successful? What will you change the next time you use this lesson? Why?

Author: Judy Ward & Barbara Kerr
Modified by: Danielle Dunn