SummaryStudents discover that they already know a lot about energy through their own life experiences. As active consumers of various forms of energy, they are aware of energy purchases for electricity, home heating/cooling and transportation. Through the pedagogical technique of a "carousel," all students become involved in brainstorming and contributing ideas. The goal is to introduce students to key terms and issues associated with energy, as a prerequisite for the rest of the unit.
Engineers play a critical role in harnessing energy resources for human use. They are among the professionals who enable our world-wide transportation, communication, safe shelter, etc. These beneficial technological advances consume a lot of energy. But, developed countries, like the US, that have benefitted from engineered technologies now demand a more sustainable consumption of energy. As the national and global populations increase this becomes more and more important in order to reduce energy use and human impacts on the Earth's systems. So today's engineers are creating solutions by designing tools and devices to be more energy efficient and developing new ways to harness renewable energy resources so that our impacts can be minimized.
After this activity, students should be able to:
- Describe how and why energy is important in their own lives.
More Curriculum Like This
This six-day lesson provides students with an introduction to the importance of energy in their lives and the need to consider how and why we consume the energy we do.
In this lesson, students identify the Earth's natural resources and classify them as renewable or non-renewable. They simulate the distribution of resources and discuss the fairness and effectiveness of the distribution.
In an active way, students discover a few critical facts about how we use energy and how much energy we use. Each student has a "clue," some of which are pertinent energy facts and others are silly statements that are clearly unrelated to the topic.
Students learn and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of renewable and non-renewable energy sources. They also learn about our nation's electric power grid and what it means for a residential home to be "off the grid."
Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science,
technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.
All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN),
a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).
In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics;
within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.
Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.
All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).
In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.
- New products and systems can be developed to solve problems or to help do things that could not be done without the help of technology. (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment? Thanks for your feedback!
- Energy can be used to do work, using many processes. (Grades 6 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment? Thanks for your feedback!
- Human activities also can induce hazards through resource acquisition, urban growth, land-use decisions, and waste disposal. Such activities can accelerate many natural changes. (Grades 5 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment? Thanks for your feedback!
- Science and technology have advanced through contributions of many different people, in different cultures, at different times in history. Science and technology have contributed enormously to economic growth and productivity among societies and groups within societies. (Grades 5 - 8) Details... View more aligned curriculum... Do you agree with this alignment? Thanks for your feedback!
Each group needs:
- 1 sheet large easel paper
- wide-tip marker, one per student (assorted colors)
To share with the entire class:
- (optional) boom box and engaging music to rev up the excitement level
We currently are highly-dependent on fossil fuels for most of our energy supply – this energy is instrumental for maintaining our society's current way of life. However, our supply of non-renewable energy sources is being depleted and may even reach a point at which the limited supply adversely affects our lives. The depletion of fossil fuels stems in part from our current energy use habits. For example, the average American uses six times the energy as the global average. This can be translated to the use of one million dollars worth of energy every minute in the US. It is critical to appreciate the importance of energy in your lives. The amount of energy one person uses is defined as "per capita". Think about your per capita energy use per day. Therefore, the more people that live on the planet, more and more energy gets used.
(Get students thinking about energy topics by asking them questions, such as:)
- How did you get to school today? Did it require energy? What kind?
- What energy did you use this morning to get ready for school? (hot shower, making breakfast, using phone, lights, computer, TV)
- Where did that energy come from? Do you think energy use impacts the Earth's systems?
Before the Activity:
1. Post large-size paper on the walls around the room
2. On each sheet, write a question for students to address to get them to think about how they use energy. Provide at least 3-4 different questions. The questions can be repeated if the class size is large. Example questions:
- How do you use energy for your mobility? What sources do you use?
- How do you use energy for your entertainment activities?
- How do you use energy for your personal comfort? What energy sources are used?
- How is energy used in the food that you consume (or in other material goods that you consume)?
- How would your life be different if we had very limited petroleum resources? (Expect answers to include issues related to materials [for example, plastics] and chemicals made from petroleum, not just loss of transportation fuel.)
- How do you think increases in human population effect the amount of energy used? Do you think this is a concern for the Earth's environmental systems?
With the Students:
1. Divide the class into groups of three students each. Each student is provided with one marker and is stationed at one of the sheets of paper. The different colored markers differentiate their responses on the posters.
2. Start music (optional)
- Have students respond to questions on the sheets for ~3 minutes, and then rotate to a new station to address the question on that sheet of paper.
3. Regroup and discuss responses and our dependence on energy (integrate some of the detective activity facts during this discussion, if that activity was not done [activity 1]).
4. Discuss ways students could conserve energy in their own lives.
5. Wrap up by asking "Do you think that the choices you make everyday have any effect on the energy issue?" This leads into the next day's Energy Choices Game activity.
Class Discussion: The discussion included in the Procedure section provides an understanding of what students already know about energy issues. A level of current understanding is needed for determining the right level to start further lessons.
Energy Information Agency - Energy Kids Page, U.S. DOE EIA, accessed December 31, 2008. http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/
Other Related Information
This activity was originally published by the Clarkson University K-12 Project Based Learning Partnership Program and may be accessed at http://www.clarkson.edu/highschool/k12/project/energysystems.html.
ContributorsSusan Powers, ; Jan DeWaters; and a number of Clarkson and St. Lawrence students in the K-12 Project Based Learning Partnership Program
Copyright© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2008 Clarkson University
Supporting ProgramOffice of Educational Partnerships, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY
This activity was developed under National Science Foundation grant nos. DUE 0428127 and DGE 0338216. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.
Last modified: August 4, 2017