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Generating electricity: Evaluating the sustainability of today's and tomorrow's energy sources

Dana Haine, Learning North Carolina

In this activity, students learn about the energy sources used by their local utility provider to generate electricity, and work in small groups to evaluate the sustainability of either a renewable or non-renewable energy source used to generate electricity.

This lesson takes about three to five 45 minute classrooms periods.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy

This Activity builds on the following concepts of Climate Literacy.

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

Energy Literacy

This Activity builds on the following concepts of Energy Literacy.

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

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

  • Activity asks students to develop a portfolio for their region so educators need to be familiar with their regional energy portfolios.
  • Record student preconceptions by asking students to list types of fuel used to produce energy and ask whether they are sustainable or not.
  • Comparing different locations is a good way for students to grasp a more global perspective and identify which kinds of energy are predominant.
  • Find an updated glossary of energy terms for students here: https://archive.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/glossary.html

About the Content

  • This is a very ambitious activity that explores electricity fuel mixes for a region, and climate change from burning fossil fuel. In the context of sustainable energy, these energy sources are examined.
  • In this activity sustainability is defined (in the somewhat limited meaning of) sustainable energy.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths: Good references to sustainability. Energy profiles. Uses government data sources.
    Suggestions: The complex balance of sustainability is not given context. For example, is nuclear energy considered sustainable? It's unclear if the teacher has the resources to guide students in this complex discussion.

About the Pedagogy

  • The context and placement of using the energy profiler grabs the attention of the user and personalizes this lesson immediately.
  • Mostly worksheet and discussion focused.
  • Clear organization of lesson progress.
  • No background information provided.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Lesson cleanly presented. Materials were all downloadable and support the learning process.
  • Link to NEED Energy Infobook broken but available here http://www.need.org/content.asp?contentid=197.
  • Users could work in groups or individually.
Entered the Collection: November 2014 Last Reviewed: November 2014

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