Energy detectives

Most things we buy from the shops have had a really long journey before getting to our shelves. When we know how much energy is used, we can make better decisions about buying goods that use less energy.

Set up time


What you need

Energy detectives worksheet


To teach students about embedded energy, and the impact that buying imported goods has on greenhouse gas emissions.

Learning outcomes


Your students will learn how to use maps and online tools.


Your students will compare the embedded energy in products they use every day.


Your students will draw on their scientific knowledge to write answers to a range of questions.


Embedded or hidden energy is the energy used to get a product from the farm or factory to supermarket shelves. It’s important to think about how much energy is used and ways we can reduce energy use by buying locally made goods.

Discuss the idea that there is hidden, or embedded, energy in every product we buy.

This hidden energy comes from making or growing the product and transporting it to supermarket shelves.

Using the Energy detectives worksheet and a map, list all the different parts of a journey for a pair of shoes made in London, United Kingdom, to your nearest shoe shop? What energy is used for each part of the journey ie.  Fuel, electricity etc


Using their scientific understanding of energy, ask students to respond to a range of questions about hidden energy.

What can we do to make sure the food we eat and the goods we buy use less energy?
What are some of the things made in your own local area or state that you could buy? What can you make or grow yourself?

Time required
30 mins

Extension: Food miles and fish fingers

‘Food miles’ is a term we can use to help describe how much embedded energy is in the food we eat. This interesting video shows the journey from fish eggs to fish fingers – and all the energy-intensive tasks in between.

How far a typical Australian food basket has travelled. That’s two times around the Earth’s circumference!


From the ocean to the plate, a lot of energy is used in transforming an ocean fish into a meal of fish fingers.


While you’re watching the video, write down all the different ways that energy is being used in the production of fish fingers.


Talk about ways that energy could have been saved in the production of this food, or any other foods.


Draw your breakfast and label where all the food on your plate comes from. Then list all the different ways each one got from the farm or factory to your plate.