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published by the U.S. Department of Energy
This lesson for upper elementary asks children to investigate which type of lightbulb is most fuel-efficient:  the incandescent bulb or the compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). It can be conducted with a simple thermometer or with a watt meter for highly precise measurements. In the final phase of the experiment, students will calculate the electricity usage in kilowatt hours for each bulb, then find the dollar cost and the greenhouse gas emissions.  

This resource is part of the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Project.
Editor's Note: Newer compact fluorescent light bulbs use 1/3 the energy and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. The reason:  in an incandescent bulb, about 90% of the energy escapes as heat to the surrounding environment. This lesson asks kids to formulate a hypothesis, then discover for themselves why the CFL bulb is cheaper and greener. Some math is required to complete the entire activity.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Work and Energy
= Mechanical Power
Education Practices
- Active Learning
= Inquiry Learning
Thermo & Stat Mech
- First Law
= Heat Transfer
- Elementary School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- New teachers
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Keywords:
clean energy, electric power, green energy, renewable energy
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Metadata instance created April 2, 2013 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
April 2, 2013 by Caroline Hall

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4E. Energy Transformations
  • 3-5: 4E/E2b. When warmer things are put with cooler ones, heat is transferred from the warmer ones to the cooler ones.

8. The Designed World

8C. Energy Sources and Use
  • 3-5: 8C/E4. Some people try to reduce the amount of fuels they use in order to conserve resources, reduce pollution, or save money.
  • 6-8: 8C/M1. Transformations and transfers of energy within a system usually result in some energy escaping into its surrounding environment. Some systems transfer less energy to their environment than others during these transformations and transfers.

9. The Mathematical World

9B. Symbolic Relationships
  • 3-5: 9B/E2. Tables and graphs can show how values of one quantity are related to values of another.

12. Habits of Mind

12B. Computation and Estimation
  • 3-5: 12B/E1. Make calculations when necessary to solve real-world problems and decide whether to make the calculation mentally, on paper, or with the help of a calculator or computer.
  • 3-5: 12B/E9. Use appropriate units when describing quantities.
12D. Communication Skills
  • 3-5: 12D/E3. Use numerical data in describing and comparing objects and events.
12E. Critical-Response Skills
  • 3-5: 12E/E3. Seek reasons for believing something rather than just claiming "Everybody knows that…" or "I just know" and discount such claims when made by others.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Standards for Mathematical Practice (K-12)

MP.1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
MP.5 Use appropriate tools strategically.

Measurement and Data (K-5)

Represent and interpret data. (1-5)
  • 4.MD.4 Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1/2, 1/4, 1/8). Solve problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions by using information presented in line plots.

This resource is part of 2 Physics Front Topical Units.


Topic: Conservation of Energy
Unit Title: Energy Forms and Sources

CF (compact fluorescent) light bulbs use 1/3 the energy and last far longer than incandescent bulbs. The reason: in an incandescent bulb, about 90% of the energy escapes as heat to the surrounding environment. This lesson asks kids to form a hypothesis, then use temperature sensors to discover why the CFL bulb is a greener way to light your house.

Links to Units:

Topic: Conservation of Energy
Unit Title: Teaching Energy in the Elementary Grades

CF (compact fluorescent) light bulbs use 1/3 the energy and last far longer than incandescent bulbs. The reason: in an incandescent bulb, about 90% of the energy escapes as heat to the surrounding environment. This lesson asks kids to form a hypothesis, then use temperature sensors to discover why the CFL bulb is a greener way to light your house.

Links to Units:
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AIP Format
(U.S. Department of Energy, 2011), WWW Document, (http://www1.eere.energy.gov/education/pdfs/efficiency_comparinglightbulbs.pdf).
AJP/PRST-PER
EERE Energy Education: Comparing Light Bulbs (U.S. Department of Energy, 2011), <http://www1.eere.energy.gov/education/pdfs/efficiency_comparinglightbulbs.pdf>.
APA Format
EERE Energy Education: Comparing Light Bulbs. (2011). Retrieved April 23, 2014, from U.S. Department of Energy: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/education/pdfs/efficiency_comparinglightbulbs.pdf
Chicago Format
U.S. Department of Energy. EERE Energy Education: Comparing Light Bulbs. U.S. Department of Energy, 2011. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/education/pdfs/efficiency_comparinglightbulbs.pdf (accessed 23 April 2014).
MLA Format
EERE Energy Education: Comparing Light Bulbs. U.S. Department of Energy, 2011. 23 Apr. 2014 <http://www1.eere.energy.gov/education/pdfs/efficiency_comparinglightbulbs.pdf>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {EERE Energy Education: Comparing Light Bulbs}, Publisher = {U.S. Department of Energy}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {23 April 2014}, Year = {2011} }
Refer Export Format

%T EERE Energy Education:  Comparing Light Bulbs
%D 2011
%I U.S. Department of Energy
%U http://www1.eere.energy.gov/education/pdfs/efficiency_comparinglightbulbs.pdf
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D 2011
%T EERE Energy Education:  Comparing Light Bulbs
%I U.S. Department of Energy
%V 2014
%N 23 April 2014
%9 text/html
%U http://www1.eere.energy.gov/education/pdfs/efficiency_comparinglightbulbs.pdf


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EERE Energy Education: Comparing Light Bulbs:

Is Part Of EERE Lesson Plan Database

A link to the full collection of lesson plans for K-12, developed by EERE, the Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy project (part of the U.S. Department of Energy).

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Apr 3 - Jun 3, 2013