Car Wars

hydrogen carImagine it is 2020 and students are about to get their first car. Increased carbon dioxide emissions have led to huge financial incentives to buy alternatives to petrol engines – but which car is best? In this activity students examine evidence and come to a decision on who wins the Car Wars.

Learning objectives

  • Apply knowledge about atmospheric carbon dioxide
  • Evaluate solutions to the problem of increasing carbon dioxide emissions from cars and justify opinions

Try the activity

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Curriculum link

England National Curriculum KS3:

  • Working Scientifically: Analysis and evaluation – evaluate data and present reasoned explanations.
  • Chemistry: Earth and atmosphere – the production of carbon dioxide by human activity and the impact on climate.

GCSE Combined Science subject content:

  • Working Scientifically: Development of scientific thinking – explain everyday and technological applications of science; evaluate associated personal, social, economic and environmental implications; and make decisions based on the evaluation of evidence and argument.
  • Chemistry: Earth and atmospheric science – carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

Running the activity

Starter Consider which type of car to buy, and discover the percentage of carbon dioxide emissions that comes from cars.
Core task Play a board game for an introduction to car selection criteria.
Plenary Discuss whether there is enough evidence to make a decision.
Extension Rank criteria and sort argument cards to decide which energy source for cars is best.
Plenary Decide on the best energy source, and justify this choice.
For detailed running notes, download the teachers guide.


BMW advert
Video outlining innovations in car energy sources

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Useful teacher information explaining how hydrogen fuel cells work

Biodiesel cars
Comprehensive information about biofuel cars, accessible to confident readers

Electric cars
Comprehensive information about electric cars, accessible to confident readers

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  • Maxtin says:

    Electric car

    thanks for this post . could you post a comprehensive information about electric cars.

  • franbatt says:

    Car wars

    Very successful in getting a top set year 8 to discuss the issues – they started out just wanting to play the game, but were able to access the ideas in a much more interesting way.

  • amoulding1 says:

    Totally ENGAGED!

    I ran this with Yr 7s – 9, of different ability. Really easy to differentiate by outcome, all students were fully engaged. I needed ear plugs for top set yr 7!!

  • amoulding1 says:

    Totally ENGAGED!

    I ran this with Yr 7s – 9, off different ability. Really easy to differentiate by outcome, all students were fully engaged. I needed ear plugs for top set yr 7!!

  • danmonde says:


    This was great for my mixed ability Y8 class. They were thoughtfully engaged.

  • hanzg says:

    great to get pupils thinking about alternative to petrol

    Fantastic, the pupils were very engaged, it was though provoking and gained lots of discussion. The matching activity allowed pupils to come to a well thought through conclusion.

  • glovermhs says:

    Superlearning Day at High School

    We use these resources as part of a superlearning day, educating students to consider buying electric cars. The resrouces help the students consider hydrogen as a potential other alternative; so helpful to have.

  • Expert See expert's profile

    Car Wars Project presented at ICTPI conference

    The car wars project that has started a few weeks ago really inspired students to create more questions in science. It engaged them and motivated them to learn. They have been making question using data and pictures. Most of learning in science is based on using concepts but students were really motivated to learn how to create interesting question this is really working with students, which are more visual learners who want to discuss and use hands on rather then just learning concepts in the classroom.
    More Information:

  • Biolojolly says:

    I can’t download the SS for this topic. No problem with the presentation and the teachers notes. Any ideas?

    Editor’s reply: I just checked this and I could download the file properly.