Newswise — What's the most energy efficient way to cook dinner — a gas stove, electric stove or microwave? Should you buy a new refrigerator or use grandma's old one, which costs less but uses more energy. How much would you save in energy costs by installing a supplemental solar panel system? How should an unstable petroleum market affect car buying decisions? These are some of the questions Energy Choices, a new board game created by Clarkson University, is helping upstate New York middle schoolers answer.

The students are learning about the country's energy situation and the impact their own personal decisions have on energy conservation. Clarkson is hoping the game will help develop the next generation of energy-smart consumers by getting them to think about how energy choices are made, the role economics plays in these decisions and how to determine which trade-offs are acceptable and which are not.

With a role of the dice, the players confront challenges and must make energy decisions that balance environmental consequences with economic considerations.

"The game is challenging and fun," said Susan Powers, professor and associate dean for Research & Graduate Studies at Clarkson's Coulter School of Engineering. "It helps students understand energy concepts and the complexity of the issues. It also reinforces for each student the important role he or she really does play as an environmental stakeholder in our world."

The game was developed as part of the University's award-winning National Science Foundation-funded K-12 Project-Based Learning Partnership Program.

Clarkson University, located in Potsdam, New York, is a private, nationally ranked university with a reputation for developing innovative leaders in engineering, business, the sciences, health sciences and the humanities. At Clarkson, 3,000 high-ability students excel in an environment where learning is not only positive, friendly and supportive but spans the boundaries of traditional disciplines and knowledge. Faculty achieves international recognition for their research and scholarship and connects students to their leadership potential in the marketplace through dynamic, real-world problem solving.

PHOTO CAPTION: Energy Choices, a board game developed by Clarkson University, is helping middle school students learn about energy in the U.S. and the impact their personal decisions have on energy conservation.

[A photograph for media use is available at]