Last updated: July 2, 2020

Math Skill: Creating and interpreting bar graphs (numbers up to 50)

Science Subject: Protection of Earth’s Resources

Grade level: 2nd 3rd – 4th5th grades

Area level: National-scale

Environmental Area: Energy / Climate Change

Purpose: Understand the concept of fuel economy and develop awareness of air quality



Burning oil (gasoline or diesel) in motor vehicles is the biggest cause of air pollution in the United States. How much gasoline your car uses is strongly connected to how dirty the air in your area is. If your car can run longer using the same amount of gasoline as your friend’s car, your car sends less air polluting gases into the air.  That means your car is better at keeping our air clean.  Fuel economy tells us how far a car can go on using one gallon of gasoline. The farther a car can go, the better fuel economy it has.

The U.S. Department of Energy provides information on the fuel economy of cars sold in the United States. You will be able to find out fuel economy of your car on their website.  It also offers a ranking of the most and least efficient cars, as well as information on hybrid and electric vehicles.

Green Vehicles

The vehicles that burn gasoline and diesel fuel are still the main form of transportation. However, there are also vehicles in the market that use less or no gasoline and therefore emit less or no direct air pollutants.

Hybrid-electric vehicles

Hybrid–electric vehicles combine gasoline engines and electric motors to improve fuel efficiency. Hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius produce 90% less air pollutants than traditional cars.

Electric vehicles (EVs)

Electric vehicles (EVs() are powered by an electric motor.  Because they do not either use or burn fossil fuels, electric vehicles emit no direct air pollution.

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The table and the bar graph show the fuel economy of ten 2020 models, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Altima, Honda FIT, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford F150, GMC Sierra, Buick Environ, Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Grand Caravan, Toyota Prius C. Studentsuse bar graphs skills  through comparing the fuel efficiency ofeachcar. There are 4 types of problems depending on grade levels. This activity is created based on data obtained from fueleconomy.gov. Use either the chart or the graph depending on students’ level.


Math Skill: Creating and interpreting bar graphs (numbers up to 50)

Using a chart, students are asked to create a bar graph that compares the fuel economy of 10 cars. They also use the symbols <, >, and = to compare the numbers.



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