Finding hidden energy

Finding hidden 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 use Google Maps to calculate the distance between different countries and their own town.


Using the Google Map data, 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.


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

This hidden energy comes from manufacturing the product and transporting it to the supermarket shelves.

Using the Energy detectives worksheet and Google Maps, measure the distance that everyday items travel to supermarket shelves.

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

What products travelled the furthest? Are there local alternatives that we could buy instead?
Why are local farmers’ markets such a good idea?

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.


Ask students to pick their favourite meals, and get them to estimate the food miles that get the meal to their plate.