There is a lot of free stuff on the web and some of it is actually pretty good. But who wants to spend the time looking up each site to find out what is actually on it? Right. So I’ve done it for you. I admit I didn’t go through all the gajillion results but I did get through quite a few of the pages of an “energy curriculum” search. I found out all kinds of interesting stuff including curriculum plans for college degrees. But I’ll spare you and just list the finds related to energy curriculum.
Why energy curriculum? Gas is over $3.00 a gallon and there are legislators still demanding hearings for the rolling blackouts during the last freeze. Then there’s the controversy surrounding the Texas Public Utility Commission approval of a powerline project through the Hill Country. If you’re looking for relevant science, what could more relevant than why you’re sitting in the dark freezing without electricity?
The following resources provide free curriculum on energy. This means that the website isn’t simply a collection of lesson plans. Someone has selected and organized the lesson plans along with relevant teacher information to provide a comprehensive study of energy or some aspect of it. None of these would qualify as a full “course” but all would make for an in depth unit study. I have provided a few websites at the end that I think are good resources for energy lesson plans in general. If I’m missing an incredible and free resource, let me know.
The JASON Project is sponsored by National Geographic. The Infinite Potential Energy curriculum is geared for grades five to eight but can be adapted for other grades. The online curriculum is free and you can purchase a print version. The curriculum is also part of the JASON Mission Control Center which includes related games, assessments, and the ability to create personal journals. The website description for Infinite Potential:Through research articles, inquiry-based activities, videos, games, and other multimedia, students investigate and analyze emerging technologies designed to meet the needs of an energy-hungry planet. Through their Missions, students will:
- Determine whether an earthquake’s energy could transform into a tsunami
- Develop a plan for providing energy to an area struck by a natural disaster
- Propose a plan to responsibly use 400 years of stored coal
- Address a large power outage and work to restore power
- Design an energy efficient module that will allow humans to live in outer space
The National Energy Education Project (NEEP) offers a comprehensive curriculum on energy for all grade levels. The NEED Energy Infobooks are the basic component of the curriculum which, provides “content information about each of the nation’s energy resources, new technologies, and the use and conservation of energy.” The project offers more specific information on electricity, transportation, an energy efficiency and conservation. All include a teacher and student guide. And for those interested in these sorts of things, all the curriculum is aligned with national and state standards.
The Energy Education curriculum is designed for secondary students. The topics covered are scientific principles of energy and fuels, the nature and extent of renewable and nonrenewable energy resources, the economics and environmental effects of energy use, and energy technology. It also includes 34 activities and investigations. Each unit includes a vocabulary list along with an online multiple-choice review.
The K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP) in Wisconsin created this curriculum for homeschoolers based on recommendations by homeschoolers. The curriculum contains a 20 background on energy aimed at the teacher. This background is followed by eight pages “Energy Sparks” which are teaching ideas for a specific energy concept. There is no given appropriate grade level information for this curriculum. Expect a “northern” bias, the home energy focus is heating rather than airconditioning.
TVA has created Energy Source Books for elementary, middle school, and high school level students. Each source book is basically a collection of lesson plans that include student handouts. The end of each source book contains background fact sheets for teachers. The lessons appear to based on material from the 1980’s so you’ll want to watch out for any dated material. (How much has energy really changed since then?) TVA has also developed a Renewable Energy Curriculum that follows the same format.
These lessons were developed by the Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) and focus specifically on renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Units of Study are a collection of detailed lesson plans for various age groups that cover concepts such as solar, wind and biomass energy, energy conservation in the home, and alternative vehicle power. The individual lesson plans include a teacher overview with a suggested time frame, required materials, activities, assessments, vocabulary, and student handouts.
This Geothermal Energy Curriculum was created by the Oregon Department of Energy and is designed for students in grades 4 to 8. The curriculum “addresses renewable and nonrenewable energy sources with an in-depth study of geothermal energy — its geology, its history and its many uses.” Each section includes student information and activity sheets. Following each student section is a teacher section that includes directions and tips for helping students complete the student activity sheets. It also provides extra activities and demonstrations not included in the student section.
Other Energy Lesson Plan Resources
The following websites have a large collection of lesson plans for teaching about energy. They are listed here because they didn’t have one comprehensive organized source of curriculum. You’ll have to pick and choose lessons to put together an energy curriculum or unit of study. U.S. Department of Energy: Includes lesson plans from other sources so an ideal first stop in your search.US Energy Information Administration: Lesson plans divided by grade level. The teacher guide helps pulling together lesson plans by topic and grade level. Energy for Educators: This site by the Idaho National Laboratory has a nice selection of lesson plans organized by energy type and grade level.