Lesson Overview of New High School Analysis of Computer Energy Use

Here is the lesson overview for a whole class open inquiry project completed in 2015 following completion of a new high school construction project.  We used the building as a learning laboratory, which helped our school earn points toward green building certification (LEED–Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).  A copy of the final project and summary of our results appear in the previous post.

Essential Question:

What opportunities exist in the new Greenfield High School to reduce electric power consumption, which will result in cost savings and decreased greenhouse gas emissions?


SCI.9-12.E.II.SIS2.5.a – making observations

SCI.9-12.E.II.SIS2.5.c – collecting data or evidence in an organized way

SCI.9-12.E.II.SIS2.6 – [Learning Standard] – Properly use instruments, equipment, and materials (e.g., scales, probeware, meter sticks, microscopes, computers) including set-up, calibration (if required), technique, maintenance, and storage.

SCI.9-12.E.II.SIS3.5 – [Learning Standard] – Present relationships between and among variables in appropriate forms.

SCI.9-12.E.II.SIS3.5.a – Represent data and relationships between variables in charts and graphs.

SCI.9-12.E.II.SIS3.5.b – Use appropriate technology (such as graphing software, etc.) and other tools.

SCI.9-12.E.II.SIS3.1 – [Learning Standard] – Use mathematical operations to analyze and interpret data results.

SCI.9-12.E.III.9.2 – [Learning Standard] – Use appropriate metric/standard international (SI) units of measurement. (KWH)

SCI.9-12.E.III.1 – [Learning Standard] – Construct and use tables and graphs to interpret data sets.

SCI.9-12.E.III.2 – [Learning Standard] – Solve algebraic expressions.

 Overview of Lesson Plan Objectives:

This is a multi-day whole class project designed to provide students with an authentic experience in applied building science. Student’s will identify a problem associated with school energy consumption, develop a plan to document power consumption using data loggers, organize and analyze data in tables and graphs, and project energy and cost savings using mathematical methods such as dimensional analysis. The results of their project will be presented to the superintendent of schools, as well as the general public at the school’s spring open house. The results of this project will also be submitted for review toward earning points in the LEED for new construction certification process. LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. “Using the building as a learning tool” qualifies for LEED accreditation points.


  1. Initial building walkthrough to identify sources of electric power consumption and opportunities for data collection and potential savings.
  2. Data collection using appropriate tools (Watts-Up! Professional Power meters).
  3. Data Analysis, calculations, and organization using excel spreadsheets.
  4. Poster presentation at school open house. Summary of results and recommendations mailed to Greenfield Public School’s central office.

Materials needed and other supporting resources:

  • Watts Up-Pro Data Loggers (x6)
  • Text: “Residential Energy Efficiency–cost savings and comfort for existing buildings” by John Krigger and Chris Dorsi.
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Publisher

 Assessment (Summative):Each student working alone or as a group of two will be responsible for the analysis, calculations, and organization of data associated with power consumption from some aspect of the new Greenfield High School Building (The initial building walk though resulted in the identification of computer energy use as the project focus. Since the students played a direct role in problem identification, the project meets the definition of Open Inquiry, the central practice of the scientist.)


21st Century Learning Expectations

  • A2 Think critically and effectively to solve problems
  • A4 Use relevent technology
  • C10 Engaged citizens

Point system grading:

Data Graphs:

Title—1 point

Axis labels—2 points

Appropriate scale on axes—2 points

Presentation of data—3 points

Data Tables and Calculations:

Calculations including Dimensional Analysis: 24 points

Total points 32 points

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *