Student page   |   Answer Key

Are You An Energy Efficient Consumer? 


1. Introduce the topic by engaging students in a discussion about energy efficiency. Questions for students to discuss could include:

  • What does it mean to be energy efficient?
  • Why should we be concerned about the amount of energy we use?
  • How is energy efficiency related to global climate change?

2. Students will then watch the introductory video to the Lights at Night interactive on the museum's website.

3. After watching the video, students will analyze the data in the Lights at Night interactive. They will compare how nighttime light emissions have changed in regions around the world make connections between light emissions and energy use. Answers to this section may vary due to the subjective nature of the program.

4. Note that country names appear on the map as students zoom into the interactive. A class set of atlases might be helpful during this part of the activity.

5. In part II of the webquest, students will work in groups to study a city or country in more depth, making the same connections as before. They will choose a region and then follow links to stories published by National Public Radio discussing how these regions use and produce energy. After learning more about their selected region, students will describe why they think it has become brighter or dimmer over time.

6. In part III of the webquest, students will focus on understanding a carbon footprint.

7. Students will complete a carbon footprint for an average four-person American family in their state by using the University of California – Berkley carbon calculator (

8. They will then answer questions related to the footprint.

9. After completing the carbon footprint, students will change some of the data to reflect how their own choices can influence their overall carbon footprint. Students will then describe how the results differed in response to the changes they made.

10. The final component of the webquest returns to a global discussion. Students will use the museum's carbon dioxide emissions calculator to compare how personal and societal options can influence national carbon emissions.

11. They will then write a reflective essay that considers how personal and communal energy choices can impact global carbon emissions.

Follow-up Questions and Activities for Classroom Discussion:

1. Light pollution has become an increasingly important issue around the world. Ask your students to observe the night sky from home, count stars, or look for a constellation. Then ask them to reflect on what they observed and whether it was difficult to locate stars.

2. Ask your students to participate in an E-pal activity. Find a partner school in a different country or another region of the United States and ask your students to share what they see in the night sky with one another. Try to locate a school that is located in a region with differing light pollution than your region.

3. The type of lights used is an important factor in limiting light pollution and maximizing energy efficiency. Ask your students to look at the energy efficiency of different types of lights or streetlights in the area.