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Drive It Green



Students examine how fuel efficient and environmentally-friendly car choices are important from a personal, societal and global perspective. They then use this information to design greener transportation options for their families. Activities in the resource have students rank the importance of different considerations when buying an automobile, determine the fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness of their family car and finally design an environmentally-friendly means of transportation that meets their family’s needs.

Part One: Students rank the importance of cost, color, size, fuel efficiency, environmental impact, reliability and safety in the purchase of a family car. After discussion, students are asked to focus on fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness. They also use the EPA’s fuel economy website to determine the fuel efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions of different makes and models.

Part Two: Students research the benefits and challenges of a hybrid, electric and plug-in vehicles as well as those that run on clean- burning fuels like methanol, ethanol, flex-fuel, and hydrogen.  After presenting findings to their classmates, students choose which innovation they would be most likely to purchase and discuss the importance of continued energy innovations in personal transportation.

Part Three: In this STEM activity, students are asked to design one transportation option that would be environmentally friendly, while still meeting the purchase criteria that is important to them. This could be a gadget, a device, type of fuel, a vehicle feature, or type of vehicle. They complete a sketch of their innovation, and write a description that explains what it is, how it works and its advantages and disadvantages.

Extension suggestions include students continuing to track the fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions of their family cars or school bus for a month and brainstorming other innovations related to fuel efficiency and environmental impacts.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Analyzing data
  • Inferring and explaining relationships
  • Critical and creative thinking strategies
  • Selecting and integrating information from various print and electronic sources


  • Has excellent local focus
  • Graphic organizer provided for research
  • Useful websites are provided for both teachers and students
  • Lesson are written so that most students can be successful, though no adaptations for modifying work are provided
  • Gives students a chance to collect scientific data which is relevant to their lives
  • Open-ended solutions
  • Demonstrates the complexity of environmental issues
  • Promotes student awareness of a very important topic
  • EPA site for fuel consumption is easy to use


  • Action plan is not an integral part of the resource
  • Teachers must develop their own assessment tools
  • No case studies are included
  • Units for mileage are expressed in miles not kilometers

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource can be used to address outcomes associated with the impacts of human activity on the environment and ecosystems, as well as those units that discuss alternative energy sources. It could also be used as an enrichment unit in technology courses focusing on creating alternative designs as a means of solving environmental problems.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Energy and Control: Electricity
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions and Ecosystems
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 6
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Energy and Control: Electricity
    • Grade 8
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Interactions in Our Environment
  • Ontario
  • Quebec

Themes Addressed

Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

  • Climate Change

Citizenship (1)

  • Ecological Footprint

Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

  • Transportation

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Satisfactory

Although the resource promotes the importance of green transportation innovations, students do their own research, discuss the information gathered and draw their own conclusions.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

This resource highlights how consumer choices, with regards to automobiles have global environmental implications.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good
Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

The action project is suggested as an extension activity, but is not fully developed.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Satisfactory
Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Satisfactory
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Satisfactory

Although the resource has no out-of-doors experience, it does promote action to reduce environmental impacts caused by fossil fuel consumption.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Very Good
Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

The future is seen as positive if alternative green transportation innovations and designs can be further developed and utilized.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

Students are able to generate some ideas on their own through the guided inquiry approach.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

Although primarily a science resource, there are opportunities to address outcomes in math and language arts.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory
Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

The extension activity which asks students to track the carbon dioxide emissions of the family car over a period of one month provides a 'hands on" learning opportunity.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered

Reflection and debriefing questions are provided, but no rubrics or instruments are provided.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Poor/Not considered

There are no thorough case studies included.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

Extension activities provide opportunities for students to delve deeper into chosen issues.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.