Teacher ideas: rich task: black balloons

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Teaching focus

Have students assess the Black balloons advertising campaign. The Black balloons television commercials about greenhouse gases were part of a Victorian Government's 'You have the Power. Save Energy' campaign. The black balloons represented the volume of greenhouse gas (ghg) produced when people used energy in their homes. Each balloon held 50 grams of carbon dioxide. In the commercials black balloons poured out of various household appliances such as an air-conditioning unit and a television. To find out more about the campaign, go to 'You have the power. Save energy.' at www.saveenergy.vic.gov.au

What you need

You can find these items in your jurisdiction's digital content repository.

  • R10115 Black Balloons commercial 1
  • R10116 Black Balloons commercial 2
  • R10117 Black Balloons commercial 3
  • R10118 Black Balloons commercial 4
  • R11514 Black Balloons: teacher resource

Background information

The principal ghg generated by the combustion of fossil fuels for energy is carbon dioxide. The quantity of gas produced depends on the carbon content of the fuel and the degree to which the fuel is fully combusted (ie the oxidation factor, which usually ranges between 98 per cent and 99.5 per cent). Small quantities of methane and nitrous oxide are also produced, depending on the actual combustion conditions. Therefore carbon dioxide equivalents refer to the greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

Adapted from National greenhouse accounts (NGA) factors, Australian Government, Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, July 2010, p. 10.

What to do

View the Black balloons television commercials and discuss the message used in the energy-saving campaign. Have students complete the following rich tasks.

  1. Black balloons calculator

    • Ask students the question: What impact does fuel type have on ghg emissions? Identify the different types of fuels and energy sources such as coal, LPG and unleaded petrol that are used to produce electricity.
    • Use the example of generating 1,000 watts of electricity and create a table that shows the number of kilograms of carbon dioxide (refer to the quote above for ghg gases that make up equivalents) produced to make 1,000 watts for an hour (ie 1 kWh) for selected fuels and energy sources.
    • Provide students with the activity sheet Black balloons calculator and challenge them to create a simple calculator using a spreadsheet program such as MS Excel.
  2. Black balloons survey

    • Ask students to create a survey to find out what people understand about the Black balloons advertising campaign.
    • Provide students with the activity sheet Black balloons survey.
  3. Black balloons advertisement brief

    • Have students create a brief for the next Black balloons television commercial.
    • Provide students with the activity sheet Brief for a Black balloons commercial.