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Energy Sources

WGBH Educational Foundation, Teachers' Domain

This short video surveys the different current and potential sources of energy - both non-renewable and renewable. It provides some discussion of the pros and cons of the different sources and explains how they are used to produce energy that people can use.

Video length 6:09 min.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

About Teaching the Guiding Principle
Other materials addressing GPe

Energy Literacy

Environmental quality is impacted by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
7.3 Environmental quality.
The energy of a system or object that results in its temperature is called thermal energy.
Other materials addressing:
1.2 Thermal energy.
Humans transfer and transform energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors.
Other materials addressing:
4.1 Humans transfer and transform energy.
Different sources of energy and the different ways energy can be transformed, transported and stored each have different benefits and drawbacks.
Other materials addressing:
4.7 Different sources of energy have different benefits and drawbacks.
One way to manage energy resources is through conservation.
Other materials addressing:
6.2 Conserving energy.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Energy from the sun (and the wind and water energy derived from it) is available indefinitely. Because the transfer of energy from these resources is weak and variable, systems are needed to collect and concentrate the energy.
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Some resources are not renewable or renew very slowly. Fuels already accumulated in the earth, for instance, will become more difficult to obtain as the most readily available resources run out. How long the resources will last, however, is difficult to predict. The ultimate limit may be the prohibitive cost of obtaining them.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Educators will want to tie this video into a discussion about the changing mix of energy sources in the US.

About the Science

  • Video characterizes hydrogen as an energy source, but it can also be described as an energy store/carrier.
  • Good explanation of how electricity is produced by using different methods and fuel sources.
  • Comments from expert scientist: A good overview with strong visuals. Corrections: 1) Hydrogen is not an energy source. It is an energy currency. 2) Better to use the term wind turbines not wind-mills. 3) Pictures of solar thermal were shown while discussing PV. 4) Mention is made of bird kills by windmills. Should also mention that house cats etc kill many more birds. would be nice to mention linkage between pop growth and energy demand.

About the Pedagogy

  • Background essay and discussion questions are available on the webpage.
  • This is mostly a "just the facts" kind of presentation, with few opportunities for substantive inquiry or discussion. The provided questions assess only comprehension of the video content.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The fullscreen image is a little pixelated and not of sufficient quality for classroom projection.
  • The video images and animations are useful.

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