Energy Endgame

How To Use This Program

Thank you for taking the time to educate your students and their families about energy efficiency and natural resources. We want you to know that participating in this program and using its supplementary materials is easy and can integrate seamlessly with your established teaching methods. Please note that our programs are aligned with state educational standards as well as the Next Generation Science Standards.

The student playbook and online teacher resources have activities that emphasize the Four Cs of 21st Century Education Skills – Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking. Along with suggested grade levels, purpose of each activity and cognitive level of thinking, this allows you to tailor the learning to meet the needs and abilities of your entire class.

Access Student Activities  
Day of the Performance
  • Ask the students a K-W-L. What do you know about the subject matter we are about to see? What do you want to know?
  • Attend the live performance scheduled for your class.
 
After the Performance
  • Explore the Education page to make use of the additional games and activities. Conclude your K-W-L by asking the students what they learned from the performance.
  • Evaluate the program by going to HeyTeachers.org and entering the code you received from the actors.
  • Complete the program evaluation.
 
Educational Standards

Find the related state and Next Generation Science Standards here.

Educational Standards
 
Words to Know

Hover over the image to reveal the definition.

A small attachment on a faucet to save water in kitchens and bathrooms
To save or use wisely
Producing very little waste
A useful source of energy used in many ways
The ability to do work and the force that makes things change
A lightbulb that uses less energy than an incandescent bulb
A showerhead that saves water and energy
A card that shows the temperature of your water to help you save energy
One thousand watts of electricity
Things we use to make electricity, like coal and natural gas
Using 1,000 watts of electricity for one hour
To use thoughtlessly or carelessly
A unit of electricity
 
Lesson 1: Electricity Everyday

Introduction
Electricity is a form of energy. Electricity powers many of the things people use every day. Despite its importance in our daily lives, few people probably stop to think what life would be like without electricity. But we use electricity to do many jobs for us every day – from lighting, heating and cooling our homes to powering our televisions and computers.

Objective
Students will understand the effect electricity has on their daily lives.

Purpose of Activity
Review, Identify Details, Communicate, Create

21st Century Skills
Communication, Creativity

Cognitive Level
Strategic and Extended Thinking

Class Time
30 minutes

Materials
Chalkboard or whiteboard

Procedure
Divide the class into teams. Teams of 3 or 4 work best.

  • Ask the students to identify things in the classroom that use electricity. Write these answers on the board. Have them continue to identify things at home that also use electricity.
  • The students will write (or draw a picture) about everything they do all day that uses electricity. (Example: My alarm clock woke me up, I turned on the lamps, I dried my hair with a hair dryer, made toast, etc.)
  • Present the stories to the class.

Critical Thinking Questions
How important is natural gas to your daily life? How do you use natural gas at home, or at school or all throughout your city?

  • Electricity is an integral part of daily life in all of these. Imagine a day without electricity.

Are there ways you could use less electricity today?

  • Turn off lights and appliances, use energy-efficient light bulbs, turn down temperature on water heater and furnaces, etc.

 
Lesson 2: Use Wind to Power a Turbine

Introduction
In the live performance, we learned that a turbine is a giant rotating fan. In this activity, wind is used in place of steam to spin the turbine.

Objective
Students will work together to engineer a wind turbine to demonstrate how wind power works.

Purpose of Activity
Apply Skills, Create

21st Century Skills
Collaboration

Cognitive Level
Strategic and Extended Thinking

Class Time
30-45 minutes

Materials

  • Four small paper drinking cups
  • A pair of scissors
  • Two strips of stiff, corrugated cardboard, about 18” x 3” each
  • Stapler
  • One pushpin
  • Sharpened pencil with an eraser on the end
  • Modeling clay

Procedure
Divide the class into teams. Teams of 3 or 4 work best.

  1. Make the paper cups lighter by cutting the rolled edges off the tops.
  2. Find and mark the exact center of the cardboard strips.
  3. Cross the cardboard strips to make a plus sign. Staple them together.
  4. Staple the cups to the ends of the cardboard strips making sure the cups all face the same direction.
  5. Push the pin through the center of the cardboard and attach the cardboard cross with the cups on it to the eraser point of the pencil. Blow on the cups to make sure the cardboard spins around freely on the pin.
  6. Place the modeling clay on an outdoor surface. Stick the sharpened end of the pencil into the clay so it stands up straight.
  7. Observe the motion of the cups.

Critical Thinking Questions
What happens when you move the turbine to a more sheltered or more open area?

  • If it is in a sheltered area, it will move slower. If it is an open area, it will move faster.

What else could power a turbine?

  • A fast-moving river or steam from boiling water.

 
How We Generate Electricity

Introduction
Read this passage to your students and ask them the discussion questions that follow.

We use electricity every day to power our TVs, computers, video games, lamps and about a million other things. But where does electricity come from, and how does it get into those funny looking holes in the wall?

Let’s go backwards. The outlets in your wall are connected to a series of wires that lead to utility poles outside of your house or apartment building. These wires then lead to transformers or substations, which, in turn, lead to a power plant. It’s in the power plant that the electricity is created.

In the 1800s, scientists discovered that when a magnet is dragged across a series of copper wires, it creates a field of electricity. The problem is, in order to keep your lightbulb lit, there has to be a constant current of electricity flowing through it, which means the magnet has to be continually moving. To solve this problem, the magnets in the power plant are surrounded by wires on all sides. So if the magnets spin in a circle, they create a nonstop current.

But how do we keep that magnet spinning? One way is to attach it to a turbine. A turbine is like a giant fan. Imagine a child’s pinwheel. If the magnet were attached to that pinwheel, then it would spin any time the child blew on it. In the power plant, the pinwheel-like turbine isn’t spun by a child with amazing lung capacity, but instead with steam. By focusing steam through smaller and smaller pipes, it becomes so powerful it can spin the turbine with great ease.

All that steam comes from boiling large amounts of water. The more water we boil, the more steam we produce; which takes us to resources. All of that water has to boil somehow, and we make that happen by burning resources like coal, oil and natural gas. The more electricity we make, the more resources it takes to make it. And because there’s only so much coal and natural gas in the world, it’s more important than ever that we conserve, or save, electricity wherever possible.

Critical Thinking Questions
What is another way we can spin the turbine?

  • We can put a turbine in a river. This is how hydroelectric dams work.
  • We can also use the wind to spin a turbine in a windmill.

What happens when we run out of resources like coal, oil or natural gas?

  • They’re gone. We will have to use renewable resources like wind, solar or hydro.

What are some things that use electricity in your classroom?

  • Lights, computers, tablets, etc.
 
Watt’s Up with Electrical Terms?

Introduction
Read this passage to your students and ask them the discussion questions that follow.

The three most basic units in electricity are voltage, current and resistance. Voltage is measured in volts, current is measured in amps and resistance is measured in ohms.

A neat analogy to help understand these terms is a system of plumbing pipes. The voltage is equivalent to the water pressure, the current is equivalent to the amount of water and the resistance is like the pipe size.

How do they relate?

Current is equal to the voltage divided by the resistance.

Let’s see how this relationship applies to the plumbing system. Let’s say you have a tank of pressurized water connected to a hose that you are using to water the garden.

What happens if you increase the pressure in the tank? You probably can guess that this makes more water come out of the hose. The same is true of an electrical system: Increasing the voltage will make more current flow.

Let’s say you increase the diameter of the hose and all of the fittings to the tank. You probably guessed that this also makes more water come out of the hose. This is like decreasing the resistance in an electrical system, which increases the current flow.

Electrical power is measured in watts. In an electrical system, power (P) is equal to the voltage multiplied by the current.

Source: wHowStuffWorks.com

Critical Thinking Questions
Using the plumbing analogy, what happens when you lower the pressure (or current)?

  • The water doesn’t flow as fast.

Why would some locations need more electricity than others?

  • A house uses less electricity than a school. A school may use less electricity than a shopping mall. A factory could use more than all of these.

Write C=v/r on the board. Ask students what the Current (C) would be if the Volts (v) = 20, and the Ohms (r) = 4?

  • Answer: Five amps

What would the Volts (v) be if the Current (C) = 50 and the Ohms (r) = 5?

  • Answer: 250 volts