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Energy Lab


This online activity challenges students to design a renewable energy system for one of five different cities, each with different energy resource potential and budgets. Students can test their designs using real-time weather data in each city.

Activity length: One 50-minute class period

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Activity supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 2 Cross Cutting Concepts, 2 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 4 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Cross Cutting Concept, 3 Science and Engineering Practices

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

  • Show "Video Intro" to students before they begin the game.
  • Have students choose two sites from different parts of the country to design renewable systems for so they grasp the idea of why different energy resources are used in each site.

About the Science

  • This activity explores the potential of renewable energy - solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, in five different areas of the US.
  • The activity uses real-time weather data to evaluate different system designs. Thus the sunlight, wind, and other conditions in the five cities are used to measure the performance of each design.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Students design a city's renewable energy system by analyzing energy data and the needs of the city. Like energy engineers, they need to weigh the pros and cons of each energy source, assess the availability in that area, and consider the needs of the location.
  • Lab includes an engaging and intuitive online "game," a series of short energy videos, and an assessment of the extent to which student designs met the goals of meeting energy needs with allocated budget.
  • Students watch a set of videos to gain background information about different types of renewable energy. Deciding what proportion of the different types of renewable energy to use will be difficult for students if they don't view the respective videos for each city/challenge.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The pricing of renewable energy is falling rapidly, so the pricing on the activity may not be up to date. Price information in the solar energy video is already out of date as of April 2017. Educators can seek up-to-date information on renewable energy at the Energy Information Administration.
  • A basic educator guide is supplied.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Activity supports:

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