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Human Energy Systems | Activity 5.3

Activity 5.3: Extreme Makeover: Lifestyle Edition (45 min)

Students visit four stations representing four lifestyle sectors, choose a lifestyle preference for each sector, and calculate the CO2 emissions associated with their lifestyle choices.

Materials You Provide

  • (optional) Calculator (1 per group of four students)

Resources Provided


Print the 5.3 Lifestyle Cards . You may choose to laminate them in order to re-use them another time. Prepare four stations. Set up one transportation station with all four transportation cards, one food station with all four food cards, etc. Print one copy each of 5.3 Extreme Makeover: Lifestyle Edition Worksheet and 5.3 Secrets Revealed! Worksheet for each student. Note: do not hand out the Secrets Revealed! Worksheet until after students make their first lifestyle choices.


1. Make connections to the previous activities.

Tell students in the last activities we examined how we as individuals use organic carbon. In this activity, we will examine how people from all parts of the world use carbon and energy, and how our personal choices and also where we live impacts how we use organic carbon.

  • Place the 5.3 Lifestyle Cards around the room.
  • Introduce the students to the four different stations around the room: food, electricity, transportation, and buildings.
  • This should serve as a reminder that organic carbon stores useful chemical energy in C-C or C-H bonds.


The worksheets in this Activity do not come with accompanying annotated worksheets. This is because the choices students make in this Activity will vary from student to student, and there are no correct or incorrect answers. The purpose of the Activity is to show that there is variation in how we use carbon, not that there is a correct or incorrect way to use carbon.


Point out to students that the unit of measurement for CO2 is pounds, whereas the unit of measurement for electricity is kilowatt hours. These are different units of measurement! One kilowatt hour does not always produce the same amount of CO2.


Have students visit the stations as pairs and see if their choices change when they have to make compromises with another person about their lifestyle.

Extending the Learning

Have students research the carbon use of countries per capita on the internet to make informed guesses about which countries are represented in each choice.