How can these materials be used in a classroom?
Our intention in creating this site is to put a variety of resources for learning about energy at your fingertips. We want to provide you with easy-to-use, effective materials that meet your state’s teaching standards, accommodate different learning styles, and deliver accurate and exciting content for your students.
Before designing the site, we surveyed teachers, and we consulted with teacher advisors throughout development. What we learned helped shape the resources you’ll find in Energy Classroom.
Because teachers told us that energy is most often taught in grades 3 through 5, the material is aimed at those levels, but teachers of other grade levels may also find it useful. Because technology resources vary from one school to another, our materials are designed to help you teach core energy concepts in many different ways: through printed information sheets and quizzes, hands-on experiments, classroom activities, videos and interactive games and puzzles.
To encourage a spirit of scientific inquiry, questions are used throughout the materials.
Energy is something most students take for granted. We at Xcel Energy want to support you as you help them become informed energy consumers who will make the kind of wise choices that will assure a bright energy future for all of us.
The main sections within Energy Classroom focus on power sources, how energy is created and conserved, how energy affects our environment and wildlife, and the people who bring energy to our homes.
- Power Sources — Where energy comes from and how electricity is created and delivered.
- Clean Energy Planet — Explores questions and ideas about clean energy, and some of the things we are doing to produce cleaner and more efficient energy for the future.
- Virtual Power Plant Tour — An interactive, behind-the-scenes look that takes students inside the walls and even some of the huge equipment at a coal plant.
- Virtual Wind Farm Tour — Watch a wind farm get built and discover some of the challenges involved as we expand our use of this clean, renewable and free energy source.
- Conservation — Why it’s important to conserve, with tips that students and their families can use.
- Power & Wildlife — Looks at Xcel Energy’s efforts to protect wildlife and habitat – and offers a closer look at several bird species who build nests near power plants and who can be seen in spring on our Bird Cam.
- Careers in Energy — Offers students a look at the many interesting jobs available at utility companies and encourages them to study now to prepare for the ones that interest them.
- Teacher Resources — Information to help you use these materials more effectively.
Within each section you will find resource materials organized by type:
- information sheets
- worksheets & quizzes
These additional sections support the main content areas:
Power Questions— A few of the questions we get from students researching papers. These are topics not covered elsewhere in Energy Classroom.
Power Words — An online glossary for terms used throughout Energy Classroom.
Energy Safety — This section links to the e-SMART energy safety site, where there are videos, games, and learning activities for K-6 teachers and students to learn about electricity and natural gas safety.
Cool Links — A list of some of our favorite energy-related online sites.
These resources are designed for your use in the classroom, but can also be accessed through the Xcel Energy Web site by students or others outside of class.
The content of Energy Classroom is focused on topics that teachers identified as important concepts to teach in their classrooms when they participated in a survey that we conducted before designing this site.
Power Sources describes the supply side of the energy equation, specifically:
- the many sources of energy
- the advantages and disadvantages of each, and
- how electricity is produced and distributed
Conservation talks about the demand side, with heavy emphasis on teaching practical steps students and their families can take to help conserve energy, save money and protect the environment.
Virtual Power Plant Tour is actually two tours. The first tracks the generation process from the arrival of coal by train to the electricity being sent out through the transmission and distribution system. The second is a detailed look at the various technologies used at power plants to reduce air emissions and conserve water. Both tours take the concepts taught in the Power Sources unit and show how they work in an actual coal plant.
Virtual Wind Farm Tour goes beyond a “How does it work?” demonstration to invite students to consider some of the challenges of selecting sites for wind farms and why building wind farms often requires building more transmission lines to connect them to the grid.
Clean Energy Planet encourages students to think creatively about new energy solutions for the future by showing them some of the things Xcel Energy and others are working on now. Topics include improving technology at existing power plants, making renewable energy more affordable and reliable, green building design and Earth Day.
Power & Wildlife may surprise students with all the ways a power company can protect wildlife and habitat. They can learn more about some of the birds Xcel Energy features in its Bird Cams: peregrine falcons, Great Horned owls, osprey and eagles.
Careers In Energy offers students a look at the many interesting jobs available at utility companies and encourages them to study now to prepare for the ones that interest them.
Some of the content in this site was originally based on materials produced by EDS (Education Development Specialists) who developed and distributed materials for the Energy Education Council (www.energyedcouncil.org). Those materials are used with their permission. Credit is given on appropriate pages.
The EDS curriculum (known to some of you as Energy Explorers and Power People) also included some material that we have eliminated, most notably information about the energy consumed and air pollution created by motorized vehicles. While transportation is undoubtedly part of the overall energy picture, we at Xcel Energy felt it best to concentrate our materials on our own industry and the issues we know best.
Energy Classroom is intended for children across grades 3, 4 and 5. This diagram summarizes the relationships between the topics within Energy Classroom.
Power Sources and Conservation provide basic concepts on the demand and supply sides of energy. If you only have time for two units, use these two.
The Virtual Power Plant Tour applies the concepts in Power Sources and Conservation to actual power plants. There are two tours. One shows the steps of power generation. The other tour shows how power plants apply conservation and clean energy ideas.
Virtual Wind Farm Tour takes students to real wind farms to see how the turbines are designed and built from top to bottom. It also discusses how wind farms and the energy they produce fit into the overall energy grid.
Clean Energy Planet expands the ideas of energy and environment that are presented in Power Sources, the two Tours, and Conservation. It looks at additional energy sources, such as solar and biomass, and presents questions for a discussion about the future of energy.
Careers in Energy will have more relevance for children who’ve taken the Power Plant Tour, but will be understandable to those who have not.
Power and Wildlife can be appreciated by children across all 3 grade levels. It also overlaps the ideas presented in Conservation and the environmental ideas presented in Clean Energy Planet and in the Tours.
The teachers we surveyed said they weren’t really looking for a set energy curriculum. Rather, they wanted a menu of materials to choose from according to their needs and the needs of their students. So that’s how we designed our materials.
Here’s a quick look at what’s what:
Information Sheets present core concepts. These can be read together and discussed in class, and used independently for student review.
Worksheets and Quizzes are designed to reinforce and measure learning. They can be used as homework, in-class exercises or tests. Use this Answer Key (5MB pdf) to find answers for worksheets. It also includes calculations and supporting information for several information sheets, experiments, and activities.
You will find overlap in the worksheets, so you can address specific needs. The same basic material is presented at different levels or for different learning styles — a graphic multiple choice for visual learners, for example. You will find that some worksheets are designed to challenge more advanced stuents with critical thinking exercises.
We also have included worksheets to appeal to students’ creative imagination. Draw Your Own Power Source and Draw Your Own Conservation Solution require students to demonstrate a basic understanding of core content and then apply it in more imaginative ways. These can be used as is, on a normal-sized sheet of paper, or cut out and pasted on a much larger sheet to give students more space to create.
Activities provide supplementary ways to help students assimilate and apply core concepts to the world around them.
Experiments help students practice scientific inquiry. Again, you will find some overlapping options, so you can choose those experiments that will work best in your classroom for your students. The Power Words included on the page are designed to increase students’ vocabularies. If desired, you can blank out the definitions when you reproduce the sheet and require students to look up the definitions for themselves in the Power Words glossary.
Videos help communicate visual concepts more effectively; for example, what coal looks like, or how nuclear fission works. Students can view videos individually on the computer, or as a class if you are able to project images from the computer on a large screen.
The Ask Our Employees video provides an opportunity for students to click on questions they might ask in an informational interview, and hear the answers from eight Xcel Energy employees who hold different positions throughout the company. This interactive experience can take place wherever students have access to the Internet: in the classroom, in a media center or at home . The worksheet titled Energy Job Quiz is designed to test what students have learned by listening to these employee interviews.
Interactions include interactive puzzles and games to explore energy concepts. Power Puzzles reinforce how electricity is produced, from power plant to you. Watts Up is a question and answer game that is a fun way for students to practice what they have learned about conservation.
The entire Virtual Power Plant Tour is designed as an interactive experience. Be sure to encourage your students to click on the photo buttons after they watch the video in each section. These photos show them even more detail than they would be able to see in a real power plant tour.
Clean Energy Planet uses a series of interactive questions to encourage students to explore new ideas for making cleaner energy for the future. The examples featured here can help to give students context for energy stories they find in newspapers and magazines, and on TV and the Internet.
Virtual Wind Farm Tour represents a new approach for our Tours. You can now enlarge both the videos and photos to full-screen to view or present them in a classroom. The Wind Farm Tour is also designed to be seen on a mobile tablet.
Power and Wildlife tells animal stories that will be popular anytime, but are especially exciting to students when used during the spring months when our many live Bird Cams are showing action in the nests of some of the birds.
Adobe Flash has been used to develop many of the videos and interactions. You will need to download the free Flash Plug-In to see these materials.
Adobe Acrobat has been used to create the other pdf documents — Information Sheets, Worksheets, Activities and Experiments. For more information and tips on using Flash and Acrobat, please see www.adobe.com.
See how these resources relate to science standards in your state, and others served by Xcel Energy. Use this link to view the Science Standards (1.2MB pdf).
Xcel Energy invites you to visit our e-SMART website to learn about electricity and natural gas and how to use them safely. This site provides classroom resources for teachers including videos, games, and learning activities as well as resources for kids and parents. Be sure to visit the two Get SMART! links — “Electrical Safety–SMART!” and “Natural Gas Safety–SMART!” — for additional safety information, activities, and stories.
Reddy Kilowatt was created in 1926. He is an illustrated character whose body and limbs are made of lightning-bolt symbols. Since then he has been licensed by more than 300 electrical companies in the United States and abroad.
Reddy became a well-known symbol for the electric industry, and he helps children to understand the need for safety around any aspect of electricity. Xcel Energy owns the exclusive rights to the Reddy Kilowatt mark.
As part of our effort to make this site as useful as possible for you, we’d like to hear from you. If you have any feedback, we’re all ears.
- What part or parts of the site have your students liked best? Let us know what’s working well for you.
- Have you found any other great energy education websites? We’d like to share your brief site review and post the link for other teachers to explore.
You can use this email address to send your ideas to us.
We’re excited to hear from you!