Project Overview
Student Learning Objectives
Content Material
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Supplementary Resources

Real World Learning Objects: Science
Is your electricity clean?


Time: Approximately 60 minutes

Materials: A recent electric bill. Computer with Internet access

Prerequisites: Students should be familiar with the following concepts:

  • Electric energy and electric units
  • Chemical identity of the main air pollutants

This background can be provided as a part of a lecture or by using online resources provided in the content material

Implementation: This RWLO can be used either in the classroom as a group activity or as a homework project. For maximum benefit students should work individually or in pairs. Pairing students with students from other institutions, preferably from a different region of the country, could enhance this activity. The activity described here is geared for an audience of non-science majors in a general education science class at the college level.


  1. Ask students to determine their average monthly consumption of electricity in kilowatt-hour. This can be done in a number of ways:
    1. Students can use a recent electric bill and read the number of kilowatt-hours used.
    2. Students can estimate their energy consumption following the energy calculation instructions. This option would require students to collect the relevant information prior to conducting the activity.
    3. Students can also be given estimated energy consumptions.
  2. Make students express their monthly electricity usage in a different form of their choice using the converter available at this site:
  3. Students then go to the Power Profiler located at and do the following:
    1. Identify the fuel mix used to generate electricity in their region.
    2. Find the amount of air pollutants produced by their energy use.
    3. Calculate number of acres of trees that would need to be planted to absorb the carbon dioxide produced by their electricity consumption.