The Energy module, “What are our energy choices?” consists of six activities to be implemented over approximately six 45-minute class periods. The module uses real-world data and computer-based models to help students explore the environmental impacts of various energy sources, from extraction to generation. By the end of the module, students will be able to compare the relative costs and benefits (abundance, ecological impacts, etc.) of different sources used for generating electricity.
Below describes an overview of the sequence of activities:
Activity 1: Constructing an Argument: Energy
Students will learn how to create a good scientific argument in the context of energy. They will learn to develop scientific arguments through a series of questions that ask them to make a claim, explain their answer, rate their certainty with their answer, and explain that rating.
Activity 2: Electricity: Sources and Challenges
Students explore real-world data to learn about electricity consumption trends worldwide. They watch a video to discover how different energy sources are transformed into electricity. Then they use an interactive map with data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) to investigate the sources of electricity in their state (and across the United States) from 1990 to 2018.
Activity 3: Extracting Gas From Shale
Students discover how geologists use the composition and location of rocks to find deposits of oil and natural gas. They use an interactive computational model to explore how hydraulic fracturing releases natural gas from deep shale formations.
Activity 4: Evaluating Natural Gas
Students use an interactive computational model and real-world data to evaluate the environmental impact of extracting natural gas to generate electricity. Students explore some of the relative benefits of natural gas and some of the potential environmental costs of extracting natural gas.
Activity 5: Evaluating Other Energy Sources
Students analyze various energy sources, comparing the costs and benefits of natural gas, coal, biomass, nuclear, wind, hydropower, and solar power for generating electricity. Students use real-world data to evaluate the relative costs and benefits of using different fuel sources to generate electricity.
Activity 6: Energy Efficiency
Students explore data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on electricity flows and electricity consumption in the United States. Using the data, students propose how electricity generation and use can be made more efficient.
Accessing the Module
1. Go to learn.concord.org/has-energy for the interactive Teacher Edition of the Energy module and other teacher resources. You will need to have a teacher account to access the teacher materials. Registration is free.
2. Set up a class on the Concord Consortium Learn portal (learn.concord.org/has-energy). Assign the Energy module.
3. Have your students register for student accounts on the Learn portal. Students will join your class with the “class word” you selected.
4. Use the embedded teaching tips and discussion tips in the Teacher Edition to help facilitate your students’ investigations in the Energy module.
The Energy module includes pre- and post-assessments. Use these to assess your students’ understanding of the costs and benefits of various energy sources. In addition, you can use the real-time Class Dashboard to track students’ progress through the module and give students feedback on their responses.
Use the embedded argumentation items to assess your students’ understanding of the costs and benefits of different electricity generation sources. Rubrics are available to registered teachers at learn.concord.org/has-energy.
Funded by the National Science Foundation
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL-0929774 and DRL-1220756. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.