American Idle

Download the Video Teaching Guide PDF/Word

MAIN TOPIC OF VIDEO:  Don’t keep your car idling! Turn it off to save gas and reduce fossil fuel pollution.

American Idle Play

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Frame:

  1. Have you ever watched the television show “American Idol”? This video will use that show’s format to teach about a very easy way to stop wasting energy.
  2. Do you think it’s possible to find humor in serious problems? Can you think of examples you’ve seen, including in the Green Ninja video series?
  3. In the video you’ll hear a lot of puns. Puns use words to make jokes and to make you think of different ways of understanding language. Try to listen closely and see how many you hear!

Focus:

  1. What is the first woman so upset about? Does it upset you too?
  2. Notice how this game is different from the real Idol.
  3. What does Drivin’ Seacrest (Ryan Seacrest) tell us about the contestant? Why is that a bad thing?
  4. What are the four possible reasons for Revathi to leave her motor on? Are any of them true for her? So what does she decide to do?
  5. How much money does idling cost?

Follow-up:

  1. You might want to pose questions differently depending on the age of your students and if they drive or will soon be able to drive:

a.  If high school students who could be driving: Since most of you drive or will drive soon, what can you do to stop idling?

b.  If younger students: Since you are not driving yet, what can you do to get your family’s drivers to stop idling?

2.  Do you think most drivers need to be educated about idling? In the past with older cars, people felt that they had to warm up their engine to avoid any damage. That is not true at all now!

3.  Are there easy ways to stop energy wastage and pollution?

*There are additional resources at the end of this video guide to help students take action even if they don’t drive.

 

ANSWERS TO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Frame:

  1. Have you ever watched the television show “American Idol”? This video will use that show’s format to teach about a very easy way to stop wasting energy.

a.  Make sure students understand the pun of “idol” (someone you look up to and maybe worship) to “idle” (not active or in use)

b.  “Idle” and “idol” are homophones– Words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. For a large list, click here

c.  American Idol has been a popular competitive singing talent show for years. Some famous people have gotten their start on the show. Students can give you names, or you can look them up, but definitely Kelly Clarkson!

2.  Do you think it’s possible to find humor in serious problems? Can you think of examples you’ve seen, including in the Green Ninja video series?

*See Lesson Extensions below for research and writing projects.

a.  There are many examples of humor including satire and parody that have messages behind them:

  • For older students: find examples in literature and multimedia such as YouTube. What examples can they find that inject humor into serious problems? –Click here 
  • For younger students: find examples in graphic novels, video games, movies and television shows that use imagery and even super heroes to teach how to solve big problems.

b.  Humor often helps people accept difficult situations and learn how to help solve them. Does lecturing to someone change their mind? Usually not. Do you agree or disagree: Lecturing usually turns people “off”.

3.  In the video you’ll hear a lot of puns. Puns use words to make jokes and to make you think of different ways of understanding language. Try to listen closely and see how many you hear!

a.  Ask students after you watch the video for a list of puns.
b.  Ask for examples of puns in other media.

 

Focus:

  1. What is the first woman so upset about? Does it upset you too?

a.  She was upset about cars that are parked (stationary), but still have their motors on.

b.  Why would this be annoying to you? Answers might include: I have to smell the burning gasoline; it makes noise; I know it’s wasteful.

2. Notice how this game is different from the real Idol?
a. Answers may include: it’s all pretend; she’s not singing; there’s no competition.

3. What does Drivin’ Secrest tell us about the contestant? Why is that a bad thing?
a. He says that she lets her car idle.

b. It’s bad because it’s wasteful and polluting.

4. What are the four possible reasons for Revathi to leave her motor on? Are any of them true for her? So what does she decide to do?
a. It’s too hot, she would need air conditioning
b. It’s too cold, she would need the heat.
c. She’s driving an emergency vehicle that needs to keep its equipment powered.
d. She’s very rich (independently wealthy) or just doesn’t care how much she spends.
e. No, none of them is true, so she decides to stop idling!

5. How much money does idling cost?
a. You can waste 0.25 gallons idling for 15 minutes. That’s equal to one gallon an hour. The cost of gasoline changes often. Find out what it costs now!
b. It’s not just the cost of the gas, but also wear and tear on your car, and burning fossil fuels, releasing more greenhouse gases into the air!

Follow-up:
1. You might want to pose questions differently depending on the age of your students and if they drive or will soon be able to drive:

a.  If high school students who could be driving: Since most of you drive or will drive soon, what can you do to stop idling?

  • Student drivers can stop their idling habits and encourage their friends and family to do the same.
  • They can participate in driver awareness programs and spread the news to the driving community.
  • They can put reminders in their cars and their friends’ cars…
  • Other ideas? (There are already prepared campaign materials. See below)

b. If younger students: Since you are not driving yet, what can you do to get your family’s drivers to stop idling?

  • As above, they can remind drivers not to idle, using various reminders and an awareness campaign.
  • They can write letters and make posters, etc.

2. Do you think most drivers need to be educated about idling? In the past with older cars, people felt that they had to warm up their engine to avoid any damage. That is not true at all now!
a. This might be a good homework assignment: Find out what your driving family members know about idling. Report findings back to the class. You can share this data across the school using charts and graphs.
b. Share the example Idling Reduction Savings Worksheet found as a link at http://www1.eere.energy.gov/cleancities/toolbox/idlebox.html

3.  Are there easy ways to stop energy wastage and pollution? There’s an idiom in American English called “Low-hanging fruit”   which is “a course of action that can be undertaken quickly and easily as part of a wider range of changes or solutions to a problem: first pick the low-hanging fruit”

Do you think that “stop idling your car” is an example of “low-hanging fruit”? Why or why not? Can you find other examples?

Possible ideas:

  • Have a share box when you get food from the cafeteria that you won’t eat
  • Scrape your uneaten food directly into a compost bin
  • Donate extra food you buy to a food pantry
  • Carpool when you can

Ask students to brainstorm ideas and report their findings. This can turn into Project-Based Learning opportunity

 

ADDITIONAL TOPICS AND LEARNING EXPERIENCES

* Lesson Extensions for research and writing projects

A.  Create another version of this Green Ninja video, using the same theme of “stop idling” or find another message

  1. Write your own comic strip
  2. Create your own animation
  3. Write a script
  4. Act out your own play and film it
  5. Create a board game
  6. Design an “improv” game
  7. Create a clay-mation film
  8. Make a poster

B.  Design and run a campaign to fix a problem that you can fix

  1. Use available online materials or create your own
  2. Do a pre- and post-study to measure your success
  3. Collect data and share it
  4. Get publicity from your local newspaper and any online blogs

C.  Find and analyze the use of humor to effect change

http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/grammar-rules-and-tips/satire-writing-tips.html

http://www.ted.com/conversations/6205/what_role_does_satire_play_in.html

D.  Design your own project-based learning

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES AND RESOURCES

 

Environmental Defense Fund – Click here

Idling is when a driver leaves the engine running and the vehicle parked. An idling car can release as much pollution as a moving car.

Four ways to be idle-free:

1. Turn off your ignition if you’re waiting more than 10 seconds. Contrary to popular belief, restarting your car does not burn more fuel than leaving it idling. In fact, idling for just 10 seconds wastes more gas than restarting the engine.

2. Warm up your engine by driving it, not by idling. Today’s electronic engines do not need to warm up, even in winter. The best way to warm the engine is by easing into your drive and avoiding excessive engine revving. After just a few seconds, your vehicle is safe to drive! The vehicle’s engine warms twice as quickly when driven.

3. Warm up the cabin interior by driving, not idling. Easing into your drive is also the best way to get your vehicle’s heating system delivering warmer air faster. Sitting in an idling car means you are breathing in more of the dirty exhaust that leaks into the car cabin. Any warmth you may get from a car heater is not worth the damage to your health. If parked and waiting, it is healthier to get out of your car and go inside a store or building.

4. Protect your car engine by idling less. Frequent restarts are no longer hard on a car’s engine and battery. The added wear (which amounts to no more than $10 a year) is much less costly than the cost of fuel saved (which can add up to $70-650 a year, depending on fuel prices, idling habits and vehicle type). Idling actually increases overall engine wear by causing the car to operate for longer than necessary.

Reasons to stop idling:

A simple turn of your key can keep the air cleaner and save money and fuel. Every time you turn off your car engine in place of idling, you’ll:

1. Make the air healthier by cutting down on hazardous pollution in your town or community.

2. Help the environment. For every 10 minutes your engine is off, you’ll prevent one pound of carbon dioxide from being released (carbon dioxide is the primary contributor to global warming).

3. Keep money in your wallet and save fuel. Save between 0.2 to 0.7 gallons of fuel for every hour of not idling.

What harm does idling do?

There are three main problems with idling:

1. First, idling pollutes the air and harms health. Idling tailpipes spew out the same pollutants that form unhealthy smog and soot as those from moving cars. Nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds are the main health-harming pollutants in vehicle emissions. Diesel engines emit more than 40 hazardous air pollutants. These pollutants have been linked to serious human illnesses, including: asthma, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and cancer. Children, the elderly, and those with asthma and other chronic health problems are especially vulnerable to the health dangers of exhaust.

2. Pollution from idling contributes to global warming. Idling cars and trucks emit carbon dioxide (CO2), a main heat-trapping gas. In New York City alone, idling cars and trucks each year produce 130,000 tons of carbon dioxide, a new EDF report shows (see Idling Gets You Nowhere [PDF]). To offset this amount of global warming pollution, we would need to plant an area the size of Manhattan with trees every single year.

3. Idling wastes fuel and money. An idling car uses from 0.2 to 0.7 gallons of fuel an hour. An idling diesel truck burn approximately one gallon of fuel an hour.  With average U.S. prices for diesel fuel topping $2 a gallon (as of 2/2/09), that’s about $2 burned.

 

ADDITIONAL LINKS: 

Toolbox to campaign against idling—great printables on-line.  Here are some examples:  

iddle free keythankyou_for_not_idling

 

Excellent and official governmental website about energy- Click here

 

Elementary school level with puzzles, etc. – Click here

 

How to choose your car (interactive):

 

Clean Cities Initiatives – PDF

stopidling_startsaving

 

Presentation that demonstrates “low hanging fruit” easy reductions – Click here

 

Download the toolkit for materials to distribute to parents, etc. – PDF

noidling_toolkit

 

Credit: This teacher resource has been adapted from content originally developed by Elizabeth Brooking.

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