Energy is a crucial part of our daily lives. We use energy to cook food, get to work and heat our schools on a cold winter's day. Teaching students about energy is not only helpful but is essential as students navigate the future. When your students understand energy, it can allow them to make lasting impacts on the environment. If you're looking to teach about energy and need help figuring out where to start, we have you covered! Keep reading to discover why it's important to teach about energy, basic energy terms you should know, resources that can help you teach about energy and how your students can make a positive difference for the environment.
Why Teaching About Energy Is Important
It’s important for students to understand energy. As energy in the modern world surrounds us from the home to classroom it's important students understand how to use energy wisely. Teaching students about energy can help prepare them for the future by understanding how to conserve resources and using their knowledge to read their energy bills.
As we reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses we produce, understanding our energy choices and ways we can reduce energy consumption through energy efficiency and conservation is important. When students understand the importance of energy efficiency and conservation they can turn their learning into action and make differences in their communities.
Understanding the basics is important when teaching students about energy. Keep reading to cover the fundamentals of energy!
One way to categorize energy sources is using non-renewable and renewable.
Non-Renewable Energy: A resource that does not renew itself at a sufficient rate for sustainable economic extraction in meaningful human time-frames. Coal, oil and natural gas are resources that can be used to generate energy. These are carbon based and release greenhouse gasses when burned to produce energy.
Renewable Energy: energy that can replenish itself as it is used. These resources are plentiful and do not release greenhouse gasses when used.
Using Less Energy
Although both energy conservation and efficiency can help you decrease the amount of energy you use and can save you money on your electricity bill, their meanings are different.
Energy Conservation: energy conservation is the effort made to reduce the amount of energy by using less of an energy source. This is through actions that we can do such as turning off lights, walking or biking instead of driving a car, or turning down the thermostat.
Energy Efficiency: Energy efficiency is using less energy to get the same results. For example, an LED light bulb uses less energy to generate a similar amount of light compared to an incandescent bulb so it is more efficient. Vehicles and appliances vary in their levels of energy efficiency - this can be an important part of choosing vehicles or appliances as the less energy they use the less they cost to operate.
Measuring Electrical Energy Usage
We are charged for our electricity based on the amount of electricity we use. Electrical energy is measured by the amount of power it uses over time - E = P x T
Watt: is the standard unit of power, equivalent to one joule per second, corresponding to the power in an electric circuit in which the potential difference is one volt and the current one ampere. A watt is how we measure electrical power - or how much electricity is flowing in a given moment.
Kilowatt: a measure of 1,000 watts of electrical power (e.g. 1,000 watts/1000 - 1 kW).
Kilowatt-hour (kWh): is the measure of electrical energy = power (kW) x time (hours). A kWh helps understand how much energy a device uses. Our home electrical usage is measured in kWh and we are charged per kWh. Check out our Energy Calculator to help you discover your energy usage and greenhouse gasses produced from energy consumption.
To discover more useful terms, check out our Energy Revealed Glossary!
Resources To Help You Teach About Energy
Now that you have the fundamentals down, it's time to start thinking about the lesson. Our Energy Revealed Program has a multitude of fun activities for students to learn and take part in. The program is backed by science and data-driven. By making energy visible, your students will become energy efficiency experts. The Energy Revealed Program covers activities from grades 3-12 and is curriculum-connected.
Here are three fun activities to get you started:
Knowing Energy: Stair Climb: In this activity and its associated videos, students will learn about energy and power and their associated units and terms. Students will experiment with these concepts as they record themselves climbing stairs. This activity is perfect for students in grades 3-12!
Knowing Energy: Tea at Home: This activity and its associated videos get learners to solve how much energy is required to make their own cup of tea with their electric tea kettle. This activity allows students to experiment with energy and phantom power concepts. This activity is excellent for students in grades 3-12!
Knowing Energy:Race to a kWh: This activity and its associated videos get students to produce one kWh individually, in pairs, or by generating energy by doing various physical activities. This curriculum connect activity is perfect for students in grades 3-12!
Transform Learning Into Action
Allow students to see their learning come alive! The Energy Revealed Challenge will help your students host and track the impact of your school's lights-out event! It will also help them learn about energy consumption and conservation at school. This challenge is great for enhancing your students' learning experience and helping them become engaged in learning. Learn how you can get your students involved here.
Now that you have the basics and resources to get you started, it is time to begin teaching your students about energy! GreenLearning is here to help support you in achieving your teaching goals. If you are looking for more teacher resources, check out ourresources page to discover curriculum-connected activities your students will love. Start your journey today!