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Power Source

Steven Semken, SERC - On the Cutting Edge Collection

In this short activity, students or groups are tasked to make concept sketches that track the source of electrical power as far back as they can conceive. The concept sketches reveal students' prior conceptions of the power grid and energy mix, and lead naturally into a lesson or discussion about energy resources and power production.

Activity takes only part of a class period.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Energy Literacy

This Activity builds on the following concepts of Energy Literacy.

Click a topic below for supporting information, teaching ideas, and sample activities.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

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.

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

  • This activity is a short introduction, taking only part of a class period. The educator needs to follow this with information about where energy comes from both locally and in the larger scheme of things.
  • Helpful slides on power sources are attached for use by the educator.
  • Electricity generation has shifted since this activity was written. Educators are advised to look up the current electricity sources for their area. A 2016 map, a 2015 interactive map, or the EPA Power Profiler are all helpful ways to learn about your specific energy supplies.
  • Could be linked with a gallery walk so that groups can observe each others' posters.
  • Students can use this activity to investigate further into the particular source/type of energy where they live.

About the Content

  • Engaging and creative way to introduce the complexities of residential energy supply.
  • A great lead-in that can be used to introduce many different topics.
  • Useful for identifying misconceptions about energy sources.
  • Comment from expert scientist: It seems critical to follow up this discussion with an accurate presentation of the national sources of electricity as well as distinguishing between overall energy usage including transportation and electrical usage. Integrated information may be found at https://flowcharts.llnl.gov.

About the Pedagogy

  • Gets students to think about where their energy comes from.
  • Concept sketching allows students to unleash their creativity to show a flow of concepts.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • A simple, fun, and powerful activity.
  • Activity is widely adaptable.
Entered the Collection: February 2012 Last Reviewed: August 2016

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