Is It Better to Buy a Gas or Electric Car?

Ages: 15-18
Suggested length:1 class period (45-55 minutes) 
Device accessibility: 1 device per 1-2 students

Lesson Information

At a glance

In this lesson, students will consider a real-life question: whether it is better to buy a gas or electric car. In groups of 3-4, students will conduct research to expand on a partly developed Kialo discussion to thoroughly and thoughtfully explore this question.

Students will be assessed on their contributions to the Kialo discussion, either individually or as a group.

Learning objective(s)

In this lesson, students will:

  • Evaluate the various factors related to the decision of whether to buy an electric or gas car.
  • Conduct independent research to explore decision factors in depth.
  • Articulate and defend fact-based opinions within a logically structured discussion.
  • [Optional] Provide proper citations for research findings.

Prior knowledge

Students should have a basic understanding of the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change, as well as the basic function of electric vehicles (i.e. they run on batteries that must be charged using special equipment).

Teacher preparation

  • Make 1 clone of the discussion for each student group.
    • We recommend 3-4 students per group.
    • In the provided Kialo discussion, there is a default discussion task for students to add 12 claims, including 8 claims below others’ claims, and 8 claims with sources. You can alter discussion task settings in your own clone and then use it as a template for any subsequent clones you wish to make.
  • When inviting students to their clones of the discussion, give them either Writer or Editor permissions.

Provided materials

  • The Kialo discussion, “Is It Better to Buy a Gas or Electric Car?” This consists of:
    • A brief background on the topic.
    • A partly developed Kialo discussion for students to expand on. The discussion invites students to evaluate the various factors related to the decision of whether to buy an electric or gas car, and then to articulate their personal conclusions on the topic.
  • Lesson plan for educators (.docx / .pdf).
  • Suggested rubric for assessing students’ contributions to the discussion (.docx / .pdf).
  • Click here to view individual file download links.

Lesson Plan

Suggested length: 1 class period (45-55 minutes)

Lesson components:
– Opener (12 minutes)
– Activity: Developing the Kialo discussion and having a follow-up conversation
– Optional closer (5-10 minutes)

Students will be assessed on their contributions to the Kialo discussion, either as a group or individually. (see suggested rubric in provided materials)

Opener (12 minutes)

  1. Ask students: When making a big purchase, what factors do you have in mind? Do you ever consider the ecological impact of your purchase?
  2. Tell students that these are some of the questions they will need to ask themselves if they ever purchase a vehicle—especially as electric cars become more competitive with gas cars.
  3. Activate students’ knowledge by showing the video, “Gas vs electric cars: which is really better?

Activity (focus of 1 class period)

  1. Inform students that they will work in groups to expand on a partly developed Kialo discussion on the topic, “Is It Better to Buy a Gas or Electric Car?”
  2. Display the topology diagram of the Kialo discussion (this can be found by clicking the mceclip0.png button in the top-left corner of the discussion) to give students a feel for the claims that are already written, which are meant to help students get started. Hover over various claims and explain them as necessary.
  3. Distribute assignment rubric and go over student instructions, which are contained in the Discussion Background (this can also be found by clicking the mceclip0.png button).

Optional differentiation: You can require students to not only link sources in their claims, but to provide properly formatted academic citations in the Quote/Note box.

  1. With students in their groups, direct them to log into their Kialo discussions, begin researching, and develop the discussion.

Tip: You can keep track of how many claims each student has added by pressing the    button in the top-left of the discussion and looking at the “Tasks” tab.

  1. Direct students to complete the discussion for homework, if they did not do so in class.

Optional closer (5-10 minutes) 

  1. Ask students, “What conclusions did you come to during your research? Which kind of car would you buy and why?” Facilitate a whole-class in which students can share their answers.

Related Kialo Discussion

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