This tutorial offers straightforward information on energy basics, forms of energy,renewable and nonrenewable energy sources, energy transfer, and a historical perspective of scientific breakthroughs in the field. It includes games, experiments, and an Energy IQ test for the middle grades. Especially noteworthy are the diagrams, tables, and images that support the text.
This resource was developed by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, an independent organization that collects, analyzes, and disseminates impartial energy information to promote public understanding of issues relating to energy use.
Editor's Note:The authors developed this resource for use in the middle grades, but the readability score ranges from Grade 10 to Grade 13 (depending upon the index used). It is appropriate for independent student use in high school settings, however, we recommend scaffolding for use in middle school.
Metadata instance created
July 10, 2006
by Jessica Hollums
February 6, 2013
by Lyle Barbato
Last Update when Cataloged:
January 1, 2010
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
4B. The Earth
9-12: 4B/H4. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide and water vapor, are transparent to much of the incoming sunlight but not to the infrared light from the warmed surface of the earth. When greenhouse gases increase, more thermal energy is trapped in the atmosphere, and the temperature of the earth increases the light energy radiated into space until it again equals the light energy absorbed from the sun.
9-12: 4B/H6. The earth's climates have changed in the past, are currently changing, and are expected to change in the future, primarily due to changes in the amount of light reaching places on the earth and the composition of the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels in the last century has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has contributed to Earth's warming.
9-12: 4B/H8. The earth has many natural resources of great importance to human life. Some are readily renewable, some are renewable only at great cost, and some are not renewable at all.
8. The Designed World
8C. Energy Sources and Use
6-8: 8C/M2. Different ways of obtaining, transforming, and distributing energy have different environmental consequences.
6-8: 8C/M5. Energy from the sun (and the wind and water energy derived from it) is available indefinitely. Because the transfer of energy from these resources is weak and variable, systems are needed to collect and concentrate the energy.
6-8: 8C/M6. Industry, transportation, urban development, agriculture, and most other human activities are closely tied to the amount and kind of energy available. People in different parts of the world have different amounts and kinds of energy resources to use and use them for different purposes.
6-8: 8C/M7. Energy is required for technological processes such as taking apart, putting together, moving around, and communicating.
6-8: 8C/M8. People have invented ingenious ways of deliberately bringing about energy transformations that are useful to them.
6-8: 8C/M9. Energy resources are more useful if they are concentrated and easy to transport.
6-8: 8C/M10. Some resources are not renewable or renew very slowly. Fuels already accumulated in the earth, for instance, will become more difficult to obtain as the most readily available resources run out. How long the resources will last, however, is difficult to predict. The ultimate limit may be the prohibitive cost of obtaining them.
6-8: 8C/M11. By burning fuels, people are releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and transforming chemical energy into thermal energy which spreads throughout the environment.
9-12: 8C/H2. When selecting fuels, it is important to consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of each fuel.
9-12: 8C/H4. Industrialization brings an increased demand for and use of energy. Such usage contributes to having many more goods and services in the industrially developing nations but also leads to more rapid depletion of the earth's energy resources and to environmental risks associated with some energy resources.
9-12: 8C/H7. During any transformation of energy, there is inevitably some dissipation of energy into the environment. In this practical sense, energy gets "used up," even though it is still around somewhere.
9-12: 8C/H8. Sunlight is the ultimate source of most of the energy we use. The energy in fossil fuels such as oil and coal comes from energy that plants captured from the sun long ago.
Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments
Measurement and Data (K-5)
Convert like measurement units within a given measurement system. (5)
5.MD.1 Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system (e.g., convert 5 cm to 0.05 m), and use these conversions in solving multi-step, real world problems.
Ratios and Proportional Relationships (6-7)
Understand ratio concepts and use ratio reasoning to solve
6.RP.3.d Use ratio reasoning to convert measurement units; manipulate and transform units appropriately when multiplying or dividing quantities.
High School — Number and Quantity (9-12)
N-Q.1 Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the scale and the origin in graphs and data displays.
Common Core State Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6—12
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity (6-12)
RST.11-12.10 By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11—CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
NSES Content Standards
Con.B: Physical Science
5-8: Transfer of Energy
This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.
Topic: Conservation of Energy Unit Title: What is Energy?
It can be hard for students to understand the difference between energy sources and energy forms. This tutorial from the U.S. Energy Information Administration defines and gives examples of renewable and nonrenewable energy sources, energy transfer, and forms of energy (with emphasis on kinetic and potential forms). It is simple, but packs punch with its easy-to-follow diagrams, tables, and images.
%0 Electronic Source %A Energy Information Administration, %D January 1, 2010 %T Energy Kids: What is Energy? %V 2014 %N 1 October 2014 %8 January 1, 2010 %9 text/html %U http://www.eia.gov/kids/energy.cfm?page=1
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