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Cost-Benefit Analysis, Design Thinking


6th, 7th, 8th


Social Studies, Economics, Engineering


55 minutes

Regional Focus



Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Electric Bikes or Electric Cars?

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Dec 1, 2022

In this lesson, students conduct research on electric bicycles and electric cars, choose one of these technologies, and create a video promoting its use as a climate solution.


Step 1 - Inquire: Students view a series of images related to bicycles and cars and discuss their emotional reactions with a partner.


Step 2 - Investigate: Students investigate the benefits and drawbacks of electric bicycles and electric cars.


Step 3 - Inspire: Students create a video advertisement advocating for electric bicycles or electric cars.


  • Students must use hard data to promote either electric bicycles or electric cars.

  • Students record quick, informative videos as their assessment in this lesson plan.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should have a basic understanding of climate change. They should know that burning fossil fuels creates greenhouse gases and that greenhouse gases are heating up the planet.

  • There are fourteen total images in the Inquire section. Feel free to disregard some of them based on your needs.

  • Many students assume that electric cars do not create emissions at all. Students will learn:

    • There are embedded emissions from the manufacturing of electric cars.

    • Electric cars that use electricity generated by fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) are still creating emissions.

  • Your students will need access to devices to record their advertisements. Students can record themselves on iPods, iPads, laptops, or other school devices. Depending on your school’s phone policy, you can have your students use their own devices.


  • Be sensitive to the socioeconomic situations of your students. Some students’ families may not own bicycles or cars or be able to afford electric bicycles or electric cars.

  • Creating the advertisement can be done as a homework assignment.

  • Students may want to include drawings, puppets, props, or other creative items in their advertisements. Encourage their creative expression!

Over the course of their use, electric cars are far more environmentally friendly than conventional automobiles. This lesson examines those benefits as well as how to make cities friendlier to bikes and other commuting options. The external resources in this lesson have passed our scientific review process.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

  • Teacher shows a series of images.

  • Students turn and talk about how these images make them feel.

  • The final two images are screenshots of bicycling and driving directions in Google Maps in Fords, New Jersey. Students will notice the difficulty of both bicycling and driving in that location to get from a residential street to a nearby park.

  • Teacher leads brief discussions after each image.

  • Students watch The Best Cars for the Climate, which outlines the environmental impact of internal combustion engine cars and electric cars.

  • Teacher checks for understanding, asking the following:

    • “How do internal combustion engine cars contribute to climate change?”

    • “What are the benefits of electric vehicles?”

  • Students conduct research using the provided resources.

  • Students select either electric bicycles or electric cars as their preferred climate solution.

  • Students create a public service announcement video, promoting either electric bicycles or electric cars.

  • Student videos must:

    • Promote either electric bicycles or electric cars

    • Be between 60 and 90 seconds in length

    • Include at least two pieces of data

    • Include the source(s) for that data

    • Be professional and polished

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