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Energy Enigma


This activity is a learning game in which student teams are each assigned a different energy source. Working cooperatively, students use their reading, brainstorming, and organizational skills to hide the identity of their team’s energy source while trying to guess which energy sources the other teams represent.

Activity takes about three 45-minute class periods.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Energy Literacy

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.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:B) Changes in matter
Other materials addressing:
B) Changes in matter.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
Other materials addressing:
C) Energy.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:C) Resources
Other materials addressing:
C) Resources.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:D) Technology
Other materials addressing:
D) Technology.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:E) Environmental Issues
Other materials addressing:
E) Environmental Issues.

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

  • Students must follow very specific rules and procedures to play this "game" - the teacher should be extremely familiar with all of this before teaching the lesson (practice playing the game before using with students).

About the Science

  • Students learn about various energy sources, their uses, whether they are renewable or non-renewable, and their environmental impacts.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • A complex and engaging "game" that requires critical thinking and group work to "win".
  • Very clear articulation of this resource’s ability to meet a variety of national science standards such as natural resources, physical sciences, earth and space, and so forth.
  • Also meets the standard of a critical thinking resource by requiring students to determine their own and others’ positions in the game regarding the energy sources they have been assigned.
  • Very specific, step-by-step teacher instructions provided. This should enhance student participation and engagement.
  • A grading scheme is provided to individually assess students/groups.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • This game is complex and will take the teacher some time to understand and then explain to students.
  • About 1 hour of prep time is needed prior to the first day of this lesson to do the copying, cutting and dividing of energy cards and envelopes.
  • Students will need careful guidance for setting up the game.

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