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Energy Is Not a Game...Or Is It?

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What's the most energy efficient way to cook dinner - a gas stove, electric stove or microwave? Should you buy a new refrigerator or use grandma's old one, which costs less but uses more energy. How much money would you save in energy costs by installing a supplemental solar panel system? How should an unstable petroleum market affect car buying decisions?

One way to develop the next generation of energy-smart consumers is to get them thinking now about how energy choices are made, the role economics plays in these decisions and how to determine which trade-offs are acceptable and which are not.

Thanks to Energy Choices, a new board game created by Clarkson engineering students, middle schoolers in upstate New York are learning about the country's energy situation and the impact their own personal decisions have on energy conservation.

With a role of the dice, the players confront challenges and must make energy decisions that balance environmental consequences with economic considerations.

"The game is challenging and fun," says Susan Powers, professor and associate dean of research at Clarkson's Coulter School of Engineering. "It helps students understand energy concepts and the complexity of the issues. It also reinforces for each student the important role he or she really does play as an environmental stakeholder in our world."

The game was developed as part of the University's award-winning NSF-funded K-12 Project-Based Learning Partnership that places Clarkson students in local schools to help teach mathematics, science and engineering concepts.

Energy Game