Energy Guide

The Energy Guide below is designed to coordinate with the ScienceWiz™ Energy Teacher’s Pack which includes a book and materials for each student in the class.

Student Online Courseware Materials are also available.

Student interactive materials and assessments are provided in two forms:

1) One set of materials are set up for group sharing and discussions at the front of the class. You can present these materials using this guide. This Teacher’s Guide includes a highlighting capability which converts the selected text into speech. Highlight text to speak. Double click outside the text anywhere on the window background to stop the text-to-speech feature.

2) The second set of materials is available inside each student’s courseware account for them to explore and complete individually. The instructor will need to enter or bulk load the students’ names and email (or parents’) accounts to make use of this online courseware component. The online student courseware offers auto-grading and auto-record keeping.

Each student account also includes:

  • a highlighting capability which converts the selected text into speech.
  • an individual note-taking capability.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Please let us know what you like and what you would like to see changed or improved (

Module 1: What is Energy?

The first module defines energy.
This module consists of four separate 30 – 40 minute lessons.
Each lesson concludes with a relevant five minute video or short slide show.

To prepare for the first module, read and study pages 4-11 in the Energy Book.
This will prepare you to present the materials in an engaging way.

Module 1 – Lesson 1: Types of Energy (pgs 4-5)

Collect these items to illustrate each type of Energy, as listed:

  • Sound energy: Locate a whistle or kazoo.
  • Thermal Energy Locate an infrared, non-contact thermometer.
  • Radiant Energy: Locate: 1) a flashlight or classroom lighting 2) a remote control 3) microwave.
  • Electrical Energy: 1) a light bulb and holder and battery circuit or 2) just an electrical cord in the classroom that is connecting a plug to an appliance or device.
  • Magnetic Energy:Locate magnets.
  • Chemical Energy:Bring in an apple or some type of food.
  • Chemical Energy: Locate a battery, which actually stores energy chemically.

It is best to have 2-3 examples of each type of energy, so that guessing can be part of the class discussion. It makes it more interesting.

There is something undefinable about energy in that it is not a physical thing or object that a student can hold. But we do HEAR sounds, we do SEE light, we do FEEL heat, and we do perceive the physical effects of energy all around us.

Lesson 1: Use the on-screen instructor to step through each type of energy presented on pages 4 and 5 in the Energy Book. Use the suggestions on the left screen to discuss or act out each type of energy as you go along.

The goal is to make the types of energy as concrete as possible.

  1. Hand out the Energy Book. Have the students turn to pgs 4-5.
  2. Launch the Split Screen Instructor:

Show the videosTypes of Energy” and “Energy Songs.”

HOMEWORK OR EXTENDED ASSIGNMENT: Ask each student to investigate one type of energy. Make sure that each student chooses only one type of energy. Have them start by viewing one of the video links provided in their courseware (Module 1: Lesson 1) or by doing research online. Have each student write and submit a short report online. The report should include:

  1. The name and definition of ONE type of energy.
  2. Two to three examples of this type of energy.
  3. A description of how people have or could use this type of energy.

Tell them they will be sharing what they have learned at the beginning of the next lesson.

(NOTE: You covered some types of energy. There are more.)

Here is a more complete list of the types of Energy taken from Wikipedia along with a definition for reference and background.

Type of EnergyDescription
Mechanicalthe sum of macroscopic translational and rotational kinetic and potential energies
Electricpotential energy due to or stored in electric fields
Magneticpotential energy due to or stored in magnetic fields
Gravitationalpotential energy due to or stored in gravitational fields
Chemicalpotential energy due to chemical bonds
Ionizationpotential energy that binds an electron to its atom or molecule
Nuclearpotential energy that binds nucleons to form the atomic nucleus (and nuclear reactions)
Chromodynamicpotential energy that binds quarks to form hadrons
Elasticpotential energy due to the deformation of a material (or its container) exhibiting a restorative force
Mechanical wavekinetic and potential energy in an elastic material due to a propagated deformational wave
Sound wavekinetic and potential energy in a fluid due to a sound propagated wave (a particular form of mechanical wave)
Radiantpotential energy that is stored in electromagnetic transverse waves (electromagnetic radiation, including light)
Restpotential energy due to an object’s rest mass
Thermalkinetic energy of the microscopic motion of particles, a form of disordered equivalent of mechanical energy

Module 1 – Lesson 2: Defining Energy – Exploring the “units” of energy (pgs 6-9)

Collect for class: tape measures, rulers, meter sticks, spring meters (included in the Physics kit, others can be purchased separately if needed), bathroom scale (optional), food scale or postage scale, apples (one per student), soft plastic cups (one per student or alternatively at least one per teacher.)


  • Below is a slide show.
  • Click on any image to launch the slide show.
  • Use the side arrows to go to the next or previous screen.
  • Use the X at the top right corner to end the slide show.

Review: Use this next slide show as a review. Have students share and discuss their written reports assigned in Lesson 1.

List words on a permanent chart for scientific vocabulary building and for review. Be sure that the list includes the types of energy.

Lesson 2: This lesson is about understanding how scientist define Work and Energy. Your students may think of work as something they are required to do, such as chores or homework. THAT is NOT what scientists mean by work.

Hand out: tape measures, rulers and the meter sticks.

Students will measure and record distances (lengths).
Hand out the Energy Book, open to page 6. Project page 6 onto the screen.

Length is a FUNDAMENTAL quantity.

OVERVIEW: There are only seven fundamental quantities, also called base units in science. Length is one of them. All other quantities are derived or defined in terms of these seven base units. You and your students have already learned about a number of the base units (length, time, temperature and mass), as well as some derived quantities. One such derived quantity is the area for a rectangle. It is calculated by multiplying the length times the height. The units needed to represent an area are mor meters squared..

This slide show presents the three basic units that students need to be familiar with for Energy: length, time and mass.

Include these three fundamental quantities in your Science Vocabulary List.

Now onto two derived quantities: force and energy. The rest of this class explores these two quantities in terms of concrete, physical activities.

First have your students explore the concept of a FORCE as indicated on pg 7 by pushing and pulling books or chairs or other objects in the room.

A FORCE, in physics, is a PUSH or a PULL.

Hand out the spring meters. Use the spring meters to quantify the pull of gravity on small objects in newtons. Use a food scale or bath scale to quantify the pull of gravity in pounds (lbs) or kilograms (kg).
(NOTE: kg is a unit of mass NOT force, but as long as we remain on Earth, mass directly proportional to weight which is the force due to the downward pull of gravity on objects on Earth.)

  • To understand “length” students have measured themselves and other objects in the room. 
  • To understand “force” students have pushed and pulled objects in the room.

Have students open to pg 8. Display it on the front screen.

Read the first paragraphs OUT LOUD with them.

PERFORM WORK on a feather:
Hand out a ruler and a feather to each student.
Do the experiment with the feather.
It is a “very teeny, tiny” bit of work, but work nonetheless.

PERFORM WORK on a small apple.
Hand out the apples and meter sticks.
THEN have each student lift the small apples one meter.
THIS means that they have now accomplished about 1 JOULE of work.

Joule is pronounced “jewel.”

A Joule is the standard unit for measuring work. It is also the unit for measuring energy. By learning this quantity and doing these measurements, your students are learning basic engineering skills, as engineering almost always requires the understanding and use of measurements. (Add joule to your Scientific Vocabulary List.)

Hand out spring meters and clear plastic cups to each student.
If you only have one spring meter, you can do this as a demonstration in front of the classroom. Using the spring meter with plastic cups attached, students can measure the weight of the apples in newtons. This is the force of gravity pulling down on the apples. Apples can vary in size.

Each student may need to eat quite a bit of the apple to reduce the weight to one newton. When each apple weighs one newton, the student should lift up the reduced-sized apple — one meter.

NOW, they have more precisely accomplished one joule of work.

Read, act out, and then discuss pg 9.

Add to the science vocabulary words as appropriate.

DON’T SKIP THIS: Show the Eureka videoWork and Energy.

FOR A REVIEW OF MASS: show the Eureka Animation on Mass.

HOMEWORK OR EXTENDED ASSIGNMENT: Have students answer the quiz questions and review any items missed.

The next Lesson is on mechanical energy: Kinetic and Potential.
These topics are split into two separate 30 – 40 minute Lessons.
Each of the segments concludes with a relevant five minute video.
To prepare for these science lessons, read and study pgs 10-11.

Module 1 – Lesson 3: Work = Force x Distance Begins with Kinetic Energy – the Energy of Motion (pg 10)

Collect for class: enough marbles for each student to have a shooter and pee wee, if possible.

Review: Review types of energy, vocabulary and that energy is the ability to do work.
Consider showing again the Eureka video on “Work and Energy.” It is a good review.

Lesson 3: Kinetic Energy – Read, act out and discuss kinetic energy with motion and marbles as shown pg 10. Discuss how kinetic energy can do work. 

List the new words on the scientific vocabulary chart.

DON’T SKIP THIS: Show the Eureka video on “Kinetic Energy.”

In this next section the goal is for students to understand force and work, and the units that define them. The video below explores what a newton of force feels like.

Click on the slide show:

Answers to slides above: Slide 1: 1 newton. Slide 2: 3 newtons. Slide 3: 40 pennies. Slide 4: Have students look at the gram weights of food items to develop their estimating skills.

Remember the definition of WORK.
Here it is again on pg 8.

If you know distance and force, you can calculate the work performed.
JUST MULTIPLY distance times force!

Work = Distance x Force

HOMEWORK OR EXTENDED ASSIGNMENT: Have students answer the questions below, either in a group or as homework assignments within their courseware.

These slides match the problems in their courseware.
Insert the numbers and multiply. All answers are in joules.

Module 1 – Lesson 4: Potential Energy (pg 11)

Collect for class: variety of books to balance on student heads 

Review: Review types of energy, the scientific vocabulary, the definitions for work and energy, mechanical energy and kinetic energy.

Lesson 4: To understand “potential energy” have the students balance a book on their heads.

Then challenge them to keep the potential energy, the energy of position, stored in the book and avoid having that energy change (book fall of head) into the energy of motion — kinetic energy. To do that, have book-on-head races either in the classroom or outside.

Add the new terms to the scientific vocabulary chart.

Read the book pg 11 together out loud.

DON’T SKIP THIS: Show the Eureka video on “Potential Energy.

Launch the Split Screen Instructor to explore how kinetic and potential energy change back and forth within the simulation.

Now have your students apply the knowledge they have learned about kinetic and potential energy to solve these problems with you in class.

Answers: Slide1: PE greatest at the two ends of arc. Slide2: KE greatest at the center of the arc. That peak kinetic energy at the point closest to the ground, causes your swing to keep on swinging. You reverse direction and swing down again, only after your kinetic energy reaches ZERO at the top of the swing. Slide3: D, Slide4: B Slide5: D, Slide6: B.

HOMEWORK OR EXTENDED ASSIGNMENT: Assignment includes the independent exploration of the skateboard simulations along with a set of questions related to the simulations. Students can use the playground portion of the simulation to design looping skateboard ramps and to challenge team members to adjust the skating parameters (friction, mass of the skater. starting point) to skate the length of the ramps. Adjustments are added where needed to make it possible to traverse the length of the loops from end to end. Here are some examples:

Module 2: Energy Transfer and the Law of Conservation of Energy

You can break the lessons into three separate 30 – 40 minute Lessons. Each of the lessons concludes with a relevant five minute video.

Module 2 – Lesson 1: Energy Transfer with Chain Reactions (pg 12)

Collect for class: books or dominos or blocks for chain reactions 

Review: Review types of energy, the scientific vocabulary, the definition of work and energy, mechanical, kinetic and potential energy.

Lesson 1: To understand “energy transfer” have the students first read pg 12. 

Hand out dominos, books or rectangular blocks: Challenge the students to work in teams to set up energy transfer events with dominos. Use the vocabulary to reinforce their understanding of kinetic and potential energy. They are storing POTENTIAL energy by positioning the objects vertically and they are triggering a cascading transfer to kinetic energy.

This is a major event for students, especially if they work in teams. You can arrange desks or classroom tables into continuous rows. Students can be challenged to arrange books and other objects in a long row, table-to-table, with the goal of knocking a small box of glitter or other object to the floor at the far end. Ready, set, GO! It helps to have each student’s set up objects isolated from the other sets with gaps until everyone is ready. This avoids the premature conversion of potential energy into kinetic energy.

Add new terms to the scientific vocabulary chart.

HOMEWORK OR EXTENDED ASSIGNMENT: Review questions from the last class and answer a few other multiple choice.

To prepare for these next two lessons, read and study pgs 13-18.
This will prime you to present the materials in an engaging way.

Module 2 – Lesson 2: Energy transfer (pgs 13-16)

Collect for class: 7 pennies, 2 cups, black markers, tea candles, matches, batteries (1.5V) 

Review: Review types of energy, the vocabulary, the definition of work and energy, mechanical, kinetic energy and potential energy, energy transfer. 

Lesson 2: To understand the law of conservation, flip the coins as shown on page 13.  You can have everyone in the class do this, if you have enough coins and cups OR you can do this as a demonstration at the front of the class.

Do not show the page below, as this demonstration involves misdirection.
As you toss the seven pennies and put them into the bins, the students focus on which bin got the most pennies. That is NOT the key question.
HERE the key question is:


And the answer is NO.
The total number of coins is CONSERVED.

AFTER this demonstration and discussion, project this image on the screen
and read the rest of the page with your students.

Show the following slideshow sequence. This is a BIG idea. Discuss.

Though energy cannot be created or destroyed,
energy can certainly change form.
In other words, energy can be transferred from one type to another.

That is what the next set of experiments is about.
These are favorites. Have fun!

To understand how energy is transferred from one form to another:

  • Use the first slide BELOW to assist students in arranging their materials for the challenge.
  • Read each challenge or question out loud from the slide.
  • Give students time to ponder and figure out the answers.
  • The answer to each challenge is on the next slide.

The answer to the the last question is on pg 16, which is shown below. NOTE: This experiment must be done early enough in the day for there to be enough direct sunlight.

Hand out the books and go over the answer on pg 16.

Add new words to scientific vocabulary chart.

Show the video  Bowling ball on a rope (choice 1 and choice 2 — SHOW both.) DO NOT TRY CHOICE 2.

HOMEWORK OR EXTENDED ASSIGNMENT: Assignment of multiple choice questions.

Module 2 – Lesson 3: Conservation Laws for Energy and Matter and Entropy

Collect for class: vinegar, baking soda, bottles, balloons, funnel, paper towels. (Enough materials for all or at least groups to do this.)

Review: Review forms of energy and energy transfer.

Lesson 3: Read aloud and discuss 17.
Have student do experiment on pg 18 and read aloud.

In summary:

Emphasize the idea of entropy or waste energy with these slides:

Add new words to scientific vocabulary chart.

Have students watch and analyze on student’s video “Student Video.

HOMEWORK OR EXTENDED ASSIGNMENT: Use the BBC Bitesize: Energy Stores and Transfers” to see how Energy is taught to students in England. Be sure to note internal energy, elastic, study the energy transfer diagrams, and the page on how people and animals keep warm. Be prepared to discuss.

Module 3: How We Use and Generate Electricity

These lessons investigate how science and energy affects and collides with our daily lives.
You can break the lessons into four separate 30 – 40 minute segments.
Each of the segments concludes with relevant videos. 

To prepare for this science lesson read and study pgs 19-23.

Module 3 – Lesson 1: How we use and generate electricity (pgs 19-20)

Collect for class: bicycle, push pins (see pg 19 for parts from Energy Teacher’s Pack)


  • types of energy
  • the scientific vocabulary
  • the definition of work and energy
  • mechanical, kinetic energy and potential energy
  • energy conversion and conservation and revisit entropy

Discuss with the class their comparison with how Energy is taught in England.

Lesson 1: To understand how important electricity has become, hand out the books and discuss the top of pg 19.

Hand out the materials listed on the bottom of pg 19: 2 motors, 1 stopper, 1 buzzer, 2 wires, propeller. Include the push pins and at least one bicycle.
Students take their materials and line up to use the up-side down bicycle to generate electricity.
This is usually an outdoor experiment.
BE SURE that students keep hair, hands and clothing away from the spinning wheel.

Do the bicycle flywheel generator experiment on pages 20.

NOTE: This experiment illustrates how most electrical power plants now work.
Students just made use of one of the greatest discoveries in science.
This topic is explored further in the next lesson.

Add new words to scientific vocabulary chart.

HOMEWORK OR EXTENDED ASSIGNMENT: Have students read ahead in the book pgs 21-23.
Do the courseware questions. Review vocabulary chart with students.

Module 3 – Lesson 2: How power plants and generators work.

Collect for class: additional cotton or nylon string, as needed.

Review: Review flywheel generator experiment you did last time with bicycle.

Lesson 2: Watch and demonstrate for the class the following: The World’s Simplest Generator

Hand out: the book, string and light bulb/holder and the motors from the kit.
Have the students try this for themselves.

Twice now, you and the students have used a simple motor to generate electricity.
In fact, a generator is a motor in reverse.

Break open at least 2-3 motors and have everyone look at and discuss what is inside, as shown on pg 21.
The goal is to understand how electrical generators work.

This 10 second animation below states what is happening,
“When you spin a coil of wire through a magnetic field,
you generate electrical current in the wire.”

Moving a magnet through a coil of wire or
spinning a coil through a magnetic field
generates electricity.

This is expressed in Faraday’s Law.

Use this simulation to better understand Faraday’s Law.
Electra will help guide you.

Add new words to scientific vocabulary chart.

HOMEWORK OR EXTENDED ASSIGNMENT: Students explore and review independently the above simulation. Then they take the quiz.

Module 3 – Lesson 3: Wind Power and Hydroelectricity

Locate in the Teacher’s Pack: pinwheel parts (pinwheels, connectors, and plastic sticks).

Review: Review generators and how they work.

Lesson 3: The goal is to understand how turbines work:
Hand out the books and the pinwheels (pinwheels, plastic sticks and connector).

Discuss how similar they are to “turbines” found in power plants (see pg 21).

Read together pgs 22-23 and discuss how wind and water can turn a turbine

Show a series of short videos on wind and hydro: How Wind Turbines Work and How Hydroelectric Power Works.

Explore the simulation for energy transfers in hydroelectric, coal and nuclear power plants below.
The goal is to spin the turbine using a bicycle, falling water or steam to spin a coil in a magnetic fields to generate electricity.
Electra will guide you through it.

HOMEWORK OR EXTENDED ASSIGNMENT:  Students use the above simulation to answer questions regarding how turbines and energy transfers are used in electrical power plants to generate electrical energy to power the grid.

Module 4: How We Use Fossil Fuels and the Issues with CO2 Emissions

This Module investigates how we use fossil fuels and the environmental issues involved with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
You can break the lessons into two separate 30 – 40 minute segments.

To prepare for this science lesson read and study pages 23-29.

Module 4 – Lesson 1: Using Fossil Fuels (pgs 23-26)

Find in the teachers pack: paper clips, coal, candle and locate a cup of water 

Review: Ask “What did we do last time?” Review generators, wind and hydroelectric power. 

Lesson 1: To understand the environmental issues with burning coal, you will burn a chip of bituminous coal in front of the class.

Hand out the Energy Books.
Read and discuss from the bottom of pg 23 to the top of 24 regarding coal fired power plants.

To understand nuclear power: Return to page 24 and read about nuclear power.

Go back to the Energy Simulation to review how coal fired power plants and nuclear power plants use very different fuels with the exact same goal in mind: to simply boil water!

Discuss with the students how they heat their homes, water and food. What types of energy do they use now? How does this lead to the release of CO2 into the atmosphere? What are the alternatives? What types of energy do they use for transportation now. How does this lead to the release of CO2 into the atmosphere? Use pgs 25 and 26 to inform the conversation.

Use the graphic below to link to an interactive graphic chart:  CO2 levels in the atmosphere through time:

Use this chart to figure out and record the CO2 levels in the atmosphere:

  • 1215 – The Magna Carter
  • 1455 First book printed with moveable type: Johannes Gutenberg
  • 1750 Beginning of the Industrial Revolution
  • 1776 – Declaration of Independence
  • 1860 – Florence Nightingale laid the foundation for professional nursing
  • 1920 – Women get the right to vote in the U.S.
  • in 1950
  • in the year 2000
  • today

Notice that after about 1750, CO2 levels began to rise.
The trigger was the industrial revolution.
To understand why, watch this outstanding Khan Academy video called: Crash Course World History: The Industrial Revolution.

Then watch this 60 second animation of the History of World Emission as it spread around the world.

Use the chart below to determine CO2 levels during the ice ages and interglacial periods.

  • during interglacial periods for the last 800,000 years
  • during the ice ages over the last 800,000 years

HOMEWORK OR EXTENDED ASSIGNMENT:  Students use the above interactive charts to determine for themselves how the levels of CO2 have changed in the Earth’s atmosphere over time.

Module 4 – Lesson 2: Fossil Fuels and The Greenhouse Effect

Review: Go over atmospheric carbon dioxide levels quantified in the last class as well as in the student assignments.

Handout the Energy Books.
Read and discuss pgs 27-29 with the class.

To better understand what makes a greenhouse gas, a greenhouse gas,
explore the simulation below:

Show this simple video as a first introduction to climate change.

Show these two videos on the greenhouse effect and climate change:

HOMEWORK OR EXTENDED ASSIGNMENT:  Explore the greenhouse gas simulation above. Watch the two videos above. Answer a few quiz questions and white a few paragraphs describing the greenhouse effect.

Module 4 – Lesson 3: Climate Change

Review fossil fuels, greenhouse gases and the green house effect.

Show this video: How is this increase in greenhouse gases impacting our climate?

HOMEWORK OR EXTENDED ASSIGNMENT: Have your students select from the climate change topics below. Each topic should have 2-5 students who work together to research it.

  1. Rising sea levels: conservative estimates, what if all the ice sheets melted and google maps sea level .
  2. Shifting climate zones: animated map, updated map, world data
  3. More severe droughts, heat waves and floods
  4. More severe storms
  5. Positive feedback effects
  6. Fires
  7. Ocean acidification, an excellent video, and additional resources.
  8. Impact on wildlife
  9. Impact on disease carrying insects including pine beetles and mosquitos
  10. Rising methane levels

Student work in groups to organize in-class panels, where each group provides a presentation and discussion of their climate-change topic area for the rest of the class.

Each student turns in a brief essay, summarizing one of the climate change effects.

Module 5: Renewable Energy

This module is about renewable energy. Renewable energy sources are renewed by nature and will last over geological time scales. These include: solar power, wind power, geothermal power and hydroelectric power.

NOTE: The solar cars require sunlight but certainly not warm weather.
The ultra capacitors and battery powered cars will work indoors.

Module 5 – Lesson 1: Solar Energy

Review: Go over greenhouse gases and climate change. This is one of the significant problems to ever face mankind. Time for brain storming! Share and brainstorm together in class discussions. NO IDEA is too outlandish to be considered. We have to do things that have never been done before. After you do the brainstorming, think about the possibility of your class or your school putting some of the ideas into action.

Prescreen the three videos below.
Select those videos you think are most appropriate for your students.

Show a group of students reacting to climate change videos. This content is for children perhaps 7 to 12 year old.

Show a video of what one student speaking up for climate justice at the United Nations.

Show a student giving a Ted Talk on Climate Change, a call for action:

Now for some hands-on activities regarding renewables.

We have discussed the problem.
Now lets explore some of the solutions.
Begin with solar energy.

Lesson 1: To introduce solar energy, start by spinning a propeller with a motor using a solar cell. All items are in the kit.

Hand out the materials from the kit (solar cell, a motor, wires, propeller) and the book.

Follow the directions on pgs 30-31.

Hand out the materials from the kit build to solar race (plastic body, 4 wheels, 2 axles, 3 washers, 1 pinion gear, wheel gear) and the book.
These little cars use gears, not rubber bands, so they will go up hill and on rough asphalt. Now have your students each build their own solar racer.

Follow the directions on pgs 32 through 35 to build the solar cars.

Go outside and test their solar cars.


  • Solar power is clean. True or False
  • Solar panels do not release CO2 into the air. True or False
  • Solar panels pollute the air and ground water when they are generating power. True or False
  • Solar panels convert sunlight directly into electrical current. True or False
  • Solar panels use a generator or turbine to make electricity. True or False
  • Solar panels work as long as the sun is shinning on them. True or False
  • Solar panels do not work well in cold weather. True or False
  • Your solar cars ran in the shade. True or False
  • Solar panels have moving parts. True or False
  • Solar panels store sunlight as potential energy. True or False

Module 5 – Lesson 2: Solar Car Race

Review: The solar cell you used to make your solar racer is also called a photovoltaic cell. The following is true of photovoltaic cells:

  • They convert radiant energy from the sun directly into electrical energy.
  • They do not have large moving parts.
  • They do not involve the spinning of a coil in a magnetic field.
  • They do involve the movement of electrons — the generation of electrical current directly from sunlight.

Use this simulation to explore energy transfers in photovoltaic cells:

OPTIONAL: Once students have built their own cars, you can have them combine their solar cells and work in teams to make their cars go farther. If you add in this project, students will need to learn to choose between connecting their solar cells in series or in parallel to achieve the best results. Learning to provide a stable way to orient their solar panels directly toward the sun and/or using their mylar mirrors adds to the engineering challenge as well as the excitement. Larger pieces of the red corrugated plastic are available if you wish students to design their own car bodies. (Order from ScienceWiz). Metal rods for the car axels can be purchased at many hardware stores or online and can be used to provide greater car design flexibility.

Hand out the Energy Books.
Read and discuss these pgs 36 through 38.

Build the super capacitor cars (pgs 39-41).

Racing these cars down a long empty hallway can be tremendous fun. IF your students charge these with 3 volts (using either 2 AA or 2 AAA or 2 C or 2 D cells connected in series), these cars will truly zoom. DO NOT mix battery types. DO NOT use a 9 volt, as this will destroy the ultra capacitor.

You may need to bring in some type of super glue to attach the car wheels to the axles, as these cars will go very fast when fully charged. The glue will help prevent the wheels from coming off if the car rams into a wall. You may need a well ventilated room, depending on what type of glue you choose. Please let us know what worked best for your group.

Here is a useful link on ultracapacitors.

HOMEWORK OR EXTENDED ASSIGNMENT:  Take a picture of your cars and send it to a relative who is interested in solar energy.

Module 5 – Lesson 3: Batteries & Energy Storage

Build the electric cars next (page 42).

Batteries are a key component in existing electric cars.

Make a simple battery.

What makes a battery a battery?
Read the bottom of pg 45 with the class.

Energy storage is going through a major transition. Some of this energy storage involves power plant sized batteries! Here is a video that explores these emerging solutions.

Batteries, new technologies and the grid.

HOMEWORK OR EXTENDED ASSIGNMENT:  Research online how battery storage options are changing. Starting links are included in the student courseware. This is a fast moving technology that students should research on their own. Have them share their findings in class.

Module 5 – Lesson 4: More Alternatives

Select videos ScienceWiz™ Climate Change. 

Have students research in groups and present as expert panels: renewable energy alternatives for power, heat and transportation. Write and submit a paragraph on their key topic area.

How do we eliminate the use of fossil fuels? Many of the solutions to the elimination of the use of fossil fuels will be implemented, one household at a time. Some of these will require changes in building codes within local governments. Some will involve the phasing out and eventual banning of fossil fuel based appliances, heating systems, and utilities.

I. Rooftop solar

II. Heating homes without the use of natural gas or other fossil fuels:
infrared heating. heat pumps, biomass, solar PV, and solar thermal.

III. Instant electric tankless hot water heaters: solar hot water, heat pumps.

IV. Insulation, wear more clothing

V. Electric stoves and ovens, washers and dryers

VI. Net zero buildings and efficiency for lighting and appliances, solid state lighting (LEDs)

VII. Electric vehicles

VIII. Renewable Electric Power — solar and wind;

IX. Smart grid

X. Electrified trains

XI. How do we solve fertilizer and modern farming practices which currently rely on the use of fossil fuels.

XII. Can we power planes with new, renewable based fuels?

XIII. How will we pave roads without fossil fuel based tars and asphalt?

Have your students research and brainstorm regarding each topic area.
Add more of their own.

How can we restore the natural balance?

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