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Human Energy Systems | Activity 5.2

Activity 5.2: Energy Scenarios (30 min)

Students work in small groups to trace carbon and energy through large-scale systems. Classmates hold them accountable to the Three Rules.

Resources Provided


Print the 5.2 Energy Scenarios Cards. You will need to cut these apart before class. You may want to laminate them first in order to make them last longer. Copy a 5.2 Energy Scenarios Handout for each student. Prepare a computer and projector for the 5.2 Energy Scenarios PPT.


1. Activate prior knowledge.

Remind students of the Three Rules: Atoms Last Forever! Carbon Cycles! Energy Flows! Tell them it is their job today to tell stories about how energy use causes carbon atoms to move. Their stories will be expected to follow the rules!


During the presentation of the energy scenarios, help the students identify any instances of “rule breaking.” Do the students confuse matter and energy? Do they ever suggest that matter can turn into energy? Do they suggest that energy can disappear? If so, remind them to have a look at the rules and see how their accounts of energy in their scenarios match or don’t match.


Read and explain the energy scenarios as a class instead of in groups.

Extending the Learning

Have students develop their own energy scenarios and share their interpretations of them with the class.