The Quest for Less: Home

A problem based unit for 5th graders to study natural resources and ways our community can reduce the usage.

Energy Conservation

Welcome to The Quest for Less

Your class is attending a town council meeting.

Under New Business, Mayor Solare reports to the council members regarding a compelling book, Over a Barrel: A Simple Guide to the Oil Shortage by Tom Mast. The world is running out of oil.


Councilwoman Turbine reads from a Time magazine article.
      "Although many economists argue that it will be difficult and expensive to find an alternative to oil and coal--and that we should delay the transition for as long as possible--their position is based on a technological pessimism that seems out of place today. The first automobiles and computers were difficult to use and expensive, but the pioneers persevered and made improvements, and ultimately triumphed in the marketplace.
Just as automobiles followed horses and computers displaced typewriters, so can the advance of technology make today's smokestacks and gas-powered cars look primitive, inefficient and uneconomical. Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy never runs out, and geologists will not have to travel to the Alaskan North Slope or the shores of the Caspian Sea to find new sources. The sunlight falling on the surface of the earth each day contains 6,000 times as much energy as is used by all countries combined. Studies show that covering the existing flat-roof space of many cities with solar cells could meet half to three-quarters of their electricity needs. In the U.S., North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas together are swept by sufficient wind to meet the electricity needs of the entire country."

Flavin, Christopher, Clean as a Breeze, Time Dec. 15, 1997.


Mayor Solare urges that the council look at alternatives. She wants your community to thrive, even as oil becomes increasingly expensive and scarce. She says the effort begins with changing the energy strategy to alternative sources and to changing how we use the energy we have. Mayor Solare turns to your class in the audience.


"Our young people will be the ones to live their lives with this new world of energy. They are open to new ways of thinking. What do they suggest?"

Your class will look into alternative energies and get back to the Council.

Subject Guide

Kelli Hedlund