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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.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 2 Cross Cutting Concepts
High School: 7 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts

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 cars, collisions with buildings, and house cats kill many more birds. Would be nice to mention linkage between population 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 full screen image is a little pixelated and not of sufficient quality for classroom projection. A higher resolution version can be downloaded.
  • The video images and animations are useful.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

MS-PS1.B3:Some chemical reactions release energy, others store energy.

MS-PS3.A4:The term “heat” as used in everyday language refers both to thermal energy (the motion of atoms or molecules within a substance) and the transfer of that thermal energy from one object to another. In science, heat is used only for this second meaning; it refers to the energy transferred due to the temperature difference between two objects.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 2

Energy and Matter

MS-C5.3:Energy may take different forms (e.g. energy in fields, thermal energy, energy of motion).

MS-C5.4:The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 7

HS-ESS3.A2:All forms of energy production and other resource extraction have associated economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical costs and risks as well as benefits. New technologies and social regulations can change the balance of these factors.

HS-PS3.A2:At the macroscopic scale, energy manifests itself in multiple ways, such as in motion, sound, light, and thermal energy.

HS-PS3.B2:Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transported from one place to another and transferred between systems

HS-PS3.D1:Although energy cannot be destroyed, it can be converted to less useful forms—for example, to thermal energy in the surrounding environment.

HS-PS3.D3:Solar cells are human-made devices that likewise capture the sun’s energy and produce electrical energy.

HS-PS4.B1:Electromagnetic radiation (e.g., radio, microwaves, light) can be modeled as a wave of changing electric and magnetic fields or as particles called photons. The wave model is useful for explaining many features of electromagnetic radiation, and the particle model explains other features.

HS-PS4.B3:Photoelectric materials emit electrons when they absorb light of a high-enough frequency

Cross Cutting Concepts: 3

Energy and Matter

HS-C5.1:The total amount of energy and matter in closed systems is conserved.

HS-C5.2:Changes of energy and matter in a system can be described in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system.

HS-C5.3:Energy cannot be created or destroyed—only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems.

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