Energy Efficiency Lesson 2 – Piper


Lesson Time:
45 to 60 minutes



The things we use every day are made from raw materials - plastic, metal, wood, etc. What materials are used, whether they are new or recycled, and how much material is used has a surprising impact on the overall amount of energy required to make a new product. By taking the time to understand how much energy is consumed by various manufacturing processes, students can become smarter, more conscientious consumers.





Electrical Engineer

Recycling Worker

Materials Engineer

Environmental Engineer





Students will be able to identify the energy saved from reusing, reducing and recycling.



Students will be able to differentiate between the amount of energy used to produce different materials.


Students will describe energy used in the production of finished products.



  • Suggested student to Kit ratio is 2:1 up to 3:1. Assign students into groups of 2 or 3 and have them move to a place where they can use large paper.

  • Read the resources yourself, and make sure you understand the energy calculations.

  • Make sure Piper kits are built, connected, functioning, and batteries are charged for the Raspberry Pi and the speaker.

  • Familiarize yourself with the vampire power concept.

  • ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions. .


Introduction (10-20 minutes)

Materials and Energy Consumption

First, have students watch these 2 youtube videos:

Note: These videos can also be found on Slide 2 of the Energy Efficiency Lesson 2 Slide Deck


After watching these videos, ask students the following questions:

  • Why do you think the Piper Computer Kit is made with wood?
  • How does the wood design help conserve energy?
  • How does energy conservation help the environment?


Second, have students discuss ENERGY STAR and home efficiency. Tell students that ENERGY STAR is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions.


Quick Write

Have each student do a “quick write” on electronic items in their homes they think carry the ENERGY STAR trademark. Make a list of appliances and other electronic devices that they think would carry the trademark.


Group Activity: “Find Your Savings”

ENERGY STAR Investigation-Find Your Savings: The ENERGY STAR HOME

Group students in pairs or triads and have them investigate the ENERGY STAR “home.”

Take a room-by-room tour of ENERGY STAR @ home and learn what you can do to save energy, save money, and help protect our environment in your own home. To get started, go to the ENERGY STAR @ Home website. Pick one room to share out,


Group Share out

After the room by room tour is done on the virtual home, have students pick one room and discuss efficiency in the home and where they think “leaks” could be found making their homes use too much energy. This is the lead in for “Vampire Power.”


Main Activity (30-40 minutes)

Part 1: How can you save energy in your home?

In this exploration, students will identify sources of energy loss and ways to save energy and money to create efficiencies.

Display Slide number 1 on Slide Deck and tell students:

That “Vampire Power” electricity leakage comes from devices that use power even when they are off in the home. These devices are called “Energy Vampires” and can waste valuable energy.


Quick Write

Have each student do a “quick write” on electronic items in their homes that could be suspected of being Energy Vampires. Make a list of your likely “suspects.”



Break students into groups of 2 and have them share ideas of items in their homes and prepare a list that are “suspects” of being “Energy Vampires.”


Group Share Out

Bring the class together and have students share out their lists and thoughts on Vampire Power as it relates to their homes. Chart out on a white board or chart paper student ideas and lists of Energy Vampires.


Vampire Load Solutions

After students share out ideas, break them up into new groups of 3-4 and ask them: Knowing about Vampire Power is a great first step, but what can you do to save money, lower your energy bill, and help out the environment? 


List four things that you can do to rid yourself of Energy Vampires and share with the class

Possible responses could be: Use a power strip, unplug vampire devices when now in use; use a watt monitor to check which devices or appliances to for energy vampires; unplug the phone; computer on sleep mode; coffee maker warmers unplugged;.video game consoles on smart power strip or unplugging them all together; best way to figure out your vampire is with the watt monitor; do a little research on the device itself and power load; be proactive and look for purchasing energy star* devices.


After students have generated ways to save energy play this video for the class:

GHC | Four ways to rid yourself of Energy Vampires



The biggest examples of "Energy Vampires" are devices that can be turned on and off, usually by remote. These include televisions, desktop computers and monitors, printers, satellite or cable boxes, and video game consoles. These "Energy Vampires" leak electricity when they're off because they're in a standby mode, always waiting for a signal to turn on.


Some non-remote devices are also "Energy Vampires." These include digital clocks, cable modems, and microwaves. Less obvious examples include electric toothbrushes, coffee makers, and-once they're fully charged-plugged in devices such as cell phones, laptops, and tablets. So while we're in quarantine keeping ourselves safe, give "Vampire Power" a thought and keep the Earth safe, too.


Part 2: What Materials are used to make electronics?

In this part of the exploration, students will identify the materials used in electronics, including the Piper Computer Kit.


Tell students:
“The items we use every day are made from different kinds of materials. The materials are chosen for their properties, cost, and, often, their impact on the environment. By choosing materials that require less energy to make, we can help conserve energy and therefore the environment. Energy is used in every step of the process of making a finished product such as a laptop or a cell phone. It all starts with raw materials.


Jigsaw Activity: Split students up into equal groups and assign them one of the following materials to research:
- Metal, Plastic, Glass, and Wood


Once students are in their groups, have them conduct research together to answer the following questions:

  • What is this material used for in daily life/the world around you?
  • How is this material used in the Piper Computer Kit?
  • Where do we find the raw (in its natural form) version of this material?
  • What processes are used to turn the raw material into the final product?


After students complete their research in expert groups, split students up into new groups so that there is one member of each expert group in the new group. **For example, first there may be a group of 4 all studying plastic but in the new group, there is now a group of 4 with 1 plastic member and a member from the metal, wood and glass groups.

In these new groups, have students present to each other and discuss the similarities and differences between their materials.

**Note: you can create a graphic organizer to help students take notes during this discussion if you think they need more guidance!


Recycling (10-15 Minutes)

Reflect on the materials used in electronics with Slides 4-8 from the Energy Efficiency Lesson 2 Slide Deck.

Have students read this article about why wood is one of the most environmentally friendly materials:



Engage Prior Knowledge with slide

  • What does it mean to recycle?
  • What are the benefits of recycling?
  • What are the challenges and barriers to recycling?
  • How does recycling save energy?

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (5-7 Minutes)

Tell students: “It is clear that some materials use more energy than others, but let’s look at the numbers

Here are some numbers for comparison:” These numbers can be shown to students on slide #10:

The energy required to make 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of each material in each step 2 above is:

  • Metal (steel from ore): 22,000,000 Joules (6100 watt-hours)
  • Plastic (PVC): 25,000,000 Joules (6900 watt-hours)
  • Glass (containers):       4,600,000 Joules (1300 watt-hours)
  • Wood (mixed plywood): 980,000 Joules (270 watt-hours)


Walk students through Calculations using slides #10-12


Following calculations, discuss Reducing, Reusing and Recycling using slides 13-15.


Closing/Reflection Activity (10-15 Minutes)

Have students reflect on what they learned using the Exit Ticket on slide #16 here: Slide Deck.