Back to the Future (EnerAction)
Students explore how the movement of goods has changed over time. They examine different means of transporting freight, which makes up 46% of transportation emissions in Canada. Students take on the task of historically sorting a set of Moving Goods Cards. In analyzing the cards, they also consider speed and pollution to weigh the sustainability of different modes of transportation. After working with the Moving Goods Cards, students also examine one of three case studies to identify transportation solutions and then create their own ideas for transporting goods. They reflect on options for the future and consider how decisions today impact the future.
Time Required: 3 hours
The EnerAction web site provides curriculum links for ON, BC and AB.
Student investigate how their food reaches them via modes of transportation.
Students explore the pros and cons of historical, present day, and future alternatives to how we move freight.
Students consider how to revitalize older modes of transportation in ways that could reduce our impact on the environment.
Students envision a different future and explore sustainable ways to transport freight.
LEAD IN - 40 minutes
1. Ask students to bring in one favourite processed food snack or lunch item. Ask them to list all ingredients, and then create a mind map showing three or more steps of how these three or more ingredients travelled from their source to students' homes.
2. Ask students to consider questions such as:
- How might people have accessed their snacks or lunch in Canada 100 years ago?
- How does the environmental impact of transportation differ for whole and processed foods?
- How does the transportation of goods differ from personal travel?
- What do you think has contributed to changing the way goods move and where they come from? [cheap fuel and trade policy have both had a large influence]
3. Explain or discuss the differences and connections between personal travel and the travel of goods and services we use. The impact of personal travel is direct while the impact of transporting goods and services is indirect.
4. Tell students they will explore how the transportation of goods has changed and that knowing about the movement of goods we use can help inform the choices we will make in the near future.
5. As a class, enjoy a sample of local food and ask students how they would define local?
MAIN ACTIVITY - 2 hours
Part A - 30 minutes
6. Put students in groups of three and provide each group with a complete set of the Moving Goods Cards (Lesson 13 attachment). Tell the students they will be sorting the cards in three different ways. They will have five minutes to complete each sorting task, and they will have five minutes afterwards to make some observations. Using the information provided at the end of the lesson, review what information they will find on the cards, explain the concepts of distant versus recent past, and assign roles within each group. Each group will need a timekeeper to track time: a recorder to record the final sequence; and a gatekeeper to ensure that everyone gets to participate.
7. Sorting historically: Ask students to organize the cards into three categories - distant past, recent past and present - to generally capture their historical sequence. You can ask the recorders to quickly jot down the card number sequence or to use a cell phone or digital camera to snap a picture of the cards in sequence.
8. Sorting by speed: Next, ask students to sort the cards according to speed by placing the cards in order from the slowest mode of transportation to the fastest.
9. Sorting by impact: Ask students to sort the cards again, this time by considering the amount of pollution associated with each type of transportation.
10. Encourage students to make observations and discuss their results using prompt questions:
- How have modes of transportation changed over time?
- Which modes are fastest? Slowest?
- Which pollute the most? Least?
11. Spend ten minutes with the class revealing the correct sequence on the board. To do so, see the answer key (Lesson 13 attachment). Lead a discussion with the class, using general questions.
- What patterns did you see in the card values you explored?
- What, if anything, surprised you about the sequences?
- What modes have outlasted others? Do older modes still have use?
- What do you think this says about the future of transporting goods?
Part B - 1 hour and 30 minutes
12. Show students that the total emissions from shipping goods continue to rise despite more efficient modes of transportation. There are two main factors that cause emissions to rise: the increasing quantity of goods and the increasing speed at which they move. This is not a sustainable approach to transporting goods. With more efficient and less environmentally harmful technology, people around the world are finding better ways to transport goods.
13. Tell students that they are going to learn about some success stories that reduced emissions for moving goods, which will prepare them to explore their own ideas.
14. Form groups of three students and provide each group with a copy of one of these three case studies (EnerAction web site):
- Go Fly A Kite - Sailing Ships with Power
- Getting Charged About Electric - Vehicles for Now and the Future
- Building Bike and Bearing Food - A School Where Food and Transport Meet
15. Ask the groups to identify (a) how their case study relates to moving goods, (b) what solution is suggested in the case study, and (c) what they liked about the story.
16. After 15 minutes, ask the class as a whole to share their insights and any other thoughts on how we move goods.
17. After debriefing, tell students that their final task is to form a design team to find or invent a way to make ONE mode of transporting goods (e.g. ship, rail, truck, zeppelin, airplane, bike) less harmful to the environment and more efficient. In their design teams, they will create a short case study of their own, using the list of solutions in Ways to Reduce Transportation Emissions from Moving Goods (Lesson 13 attachment).
18. Ask students to use the same basic format for their case study as they found in the sample case study. Tell them to be prepared to provide a brief class presentation that includes:
- two benefits and one challenge of moving goods this way
- a diagram, drawing or photograph of the technology/idea/design in use
- an explanation of how this idea is being used, or could be used, far and wide
- what they are most proud of in their design and why
- the advice they would give to someone trying to create a solution for this mode of transportation
19. Plan a period in the library and/or computer lab and allow at least one day out of class time for the groups to prepare their case.
20. Ask the groups to make their presentations in class during the first half of class, keeping to the requested two-to-three minute time limits, and allowing time for one or two questions from students. With groups of three, there will be eight to ten presentations of case studies if all groups present.
WRAP UP - 20 minutes
21. After the case study presentations, lead a class discussion to debrief the students' experiences and perspectives. Sample questions to explore include:
- Of the design you heard about, which ones sounded most promising?
- How do you think transportation patterns are changing now and will change in the future?
- How do you predict our needs and wants as consumers may change as a result?
- What is the importance of putting less demand on transported goods? (i.e., by buying less or buying locally, you conserve energy and reduce emissions)
- How has your thinking on the transportation of goods changed from this exercise?
22. Collect the case studies. As a class, you may wish to share your case studies in school or with GreenLearning. Use the Contact Us on the GreenLearning web site. (www.greenlearning.ca/contact-us)
You may wish to prepare the Moving Goods Cards a few days in advance. If you make colour copies and have them laminated, you will have a lasting resource.
Assessment Rubric is provided in the complete Lesson plan.
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