The Role of Light in my Life: A Student Journaling Activity

According to the US Department of Energy, lighting accounts for about 11 percent of energy use in residential buildings and 25 percent in commercial buildings!  For incandescent bulbs, only about 10 percent of the electricity consumed by the bulb is actually converted into light! Thus, inefficient lighting coupled with wasteful consumer behavior means a lot of energy is wasted in lighting our homes, schools, and businesses.

This homework activity is designed to get your students thinking about the role of lighting in their daily life and how the use of lighting impacts the environment through electricity generation, the materials used to produce lighting products, and even its impact on the nighttime sky (light pollution).

1.  Ask your students to keep a 24 hour journal documenting their use of and reliance on light at home, school, work, extracurricular activities etc. Hopefully they will also consider street lights, stop lights, and other outdoor lights.  All of this lighting requires electricity and in NC, most of the electricity is going to come from coal-fired and nuclear power plants.

2. At the end of the 24 hours ask student to reflect on how the use of indoor and outdoor lighting impacts the environment through  electricity generation, the materials used to produce lighting products, and its impact on the nighttime sky (light pollution).

3.  Next ask students to envision or even draw/diagram an imaginary day in which the amount of energy consumed by lighting their environment is reduced.  Prompt students to consider how changes in their behavior as well changes to light bulbs, lighting fixtures and design, etc. can reduce the amount of energy consumed by lighting.   Strategies for reducing energy consumption can include more efficient bulbs (CFLs and LEDs), appropriate use of bulbs and lighting fixtures, use of day lighting, as well as conservation behaviors by consumers.

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