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US Energy Production and Consumption

Environmental Literacy and Inquiry Working Group, Lehigh University

In this activity, students explore energy production and consumption by contrasting regional energy production in five different US regions.

Activity takes one 45-minute class period.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Energy Literacy

Energy available to do useful work decreases as it is transferred from system to system.
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1.4 Energy quality degrades over time.
Humans transfer and transform energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors.
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4.1 Humans transfer and transform energy.
Humans transport energy from place to place.
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4.4 Humans transport 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.
Human demand for energy is increasing.
Other materials addressing:
6.3 Demand for energy is increasing.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
Other materials addressing:
C) Energy.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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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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Industry, transportation, urban development, agriculture, and most other human activities are closely tied to the amount and kind of energy available. People in different parts of the world have different amounts and kinds of energy resources to use and use them for different purposes.
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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.
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When selecting fuels, it is important to consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of each fuel.
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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

  • The webpages referenced in the instructions can be found here: http://www.ei.lehigh.edu/learners/energy/. Please request the password with the developers to accessing the assessments.
  • This lesson could be used as a platform to launch into other more complex issues associated with US renewable and nonrenewable energy sources that are provided within this entire curriculum. This lesson is a great starting point.

About the Science

  • The data used is from 2006 and 2007. Educator might want to use more current data when implementing in the class.
  • The states examined are California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington.
  • Comment from expert scientist: Identifying the key components to different forms of energy – production, consumption, and distribution patterns, are explained in good way.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • This lesson is from a 6-week instructional sequence on energy resources. The entire sequence can be found here: http://www.ei.lehigh.edu/eli/energy/sequence/index.html.
  • Students examine the US energy production and consumption charts to draw conclusions.
  • The paper and pencil exercise, although simple in design, encourages students to take the time to analyze and explore both renewable and nonrenewable energy sources within the US.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Handouts and reading assignments are provided for students.
  • A PowerPoint presentation supplying background information on the topic is also available and can be printed out in PDF form.

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