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America's Energy Future from the National Academies

National Academies of Sciences

This video from the U.S. National Academies summarizes the energy challenges the United States faces, including the technological challenges, and the need for changes in consumption and in energy policy.

Video length: 5:42 min.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea
High School: 6 Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

About the Science

  • Good overview of the challenges and opportunities facing the United States in order to reduce carbon emissions and decarbonize society.
  • Glosses over some details such as the statement nuclear energy does not produce carbon emissions, which does not consider carbon emissions involved with mining, refining, and transportation.
  • The video is emotionally loaded (especially with the dramatic music that is played during the clip). Its intent is to inspire awareness and change, not to teach science content.
  • Does not address the facts that we need a portfolio of energy sources not just nuclear and renewable energy.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The activity gives a fairly basic but comprehensive overview on the energy portfolio of the U.S. The video inserts facts and figures on the use of these energy technologies throughout the lesson. The credentials of the 3 hosts are given at the end of the lesson. Video is out-dated, and it doesn't mention fracking, which is a big topic today.

About the Pedagogy

  • Video may be used to stimulate discussion in classrooms but requires unpacking more details since the reality is not necessarily as rosy as is painted here.
  • Important to drill down more into the details of science content.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • A transcript of the video is available.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

MS-ESS3.A1:Humans depend on Earth’s land, ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere for many different resources. Minerals, fresh water, and biosphere resources are limited, and many are not renewable or replaceable over human lifetimes. These resources are distributed unevenly around the planet as a result of past geologic processes.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 6

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-ETS1.A1:Criteria and constraints also include satisfying any requirements set by society, such as taking issues of risk mitigation into account, and they should be quantified to the extent possible and stated in such a way that one can tell if a given design meets them.

HS-ETS1.A2:Humanity faces major global challenges today, such as the need for supplies of clean water and food or for energy sources that minimize pollution, which can be addressed through engineering. These global challenges also may have manifestations in local communities

HS-ETS1.B1:When evaluating solutions, it is important to take into account a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, and to consider social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

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

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

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