TEACHER TOOLKIT

Potomac Edison and EmPOWER Maryland invite you to use these e-learning resources to teach your students about energy efficiency. The digital materials below are designed to get your students excited about understanding this important subject.

Want to know the best way to use the related videos, games and other lessons to educate your class? Watch this short video and learn how to easily add Energy Agents to your curriculum!


EDUCATOR VIDEO


Educational Standards  

We know your class time is extremely valuable. That’s why we ensure that all of our digital e-learning materials are aligned with state and national educational standards. It’s important that the Energy Agents digital program adds to your existing curriculum and keeps students on track with their ongoing learning.

See below for details about how each digital activity aligns with educational standards and corresponds with your state’s curricula.

Educational Standards

PROGRAM OVERVIEW  

Debuting this year, our livestream offers classrooms a convenient, online-accessible option for experiencing educational theatre.

This 45-minute show presents a virtual lesson in energy efficiency for grades 6-8. Through an interactive web platform, a live host will introduce entertaining sketches featuring a variety of characters in educational theatrical scenes.

The sketches focus on the following educational points:

  • How we measure energy use
  • How energy is wasted
  • How we conserve energy
  • What renewable resources are

Whether watching in the classroom or at home, your students will experience important lessons about energy efficiency.

HANDS-ON LESSONS  

Your students can enhance the learning from the livestream with these fun, hands-on lessons and experiments. These lessons can be done in the classroom or easily adapted for students to do at home with their family.

The materials needed for these lessons are basic supplies that most people have at home. They’re a fun and educational way for students to learn with family members. Follow up with your students to make sure they enjoyed and learned from these activities.

Lesson 1:

Lesson 1: Watt’s Going On?

Objective
To understand the basics of how much energy is used in a typical household.

Purpose of Activity
Review, Identify Details, Communicate

21st Century Skills
Critical Thinking

Cognitive Level
Strategic and Extended Thinking

Class Time
30 minutes

Materials

  • Chalkboard or whiteboard
  • Chalk
  • Paper
  • Penci

Procedure
Use the chart to determine how much energy you use in a day by checking each appliance you use and how many hours you use the item. Before you begin, here are some key concepts to keep in mind while doing the exercise.

  • A watt is a unit that measures how much energy is used by a machine or appliance.
  • Use fractions when determining hours for some appliances. Remember, you don’t use the toaster or vacuum for an hour at a time.

What appliance uses the most electricity?

  • This will depend on the hours used per day. Most likely it will be the air conditioner, refrigerator or freezer. They run most of the day and use the most energy.

What appliance uses the least amount of electricity?

  • Again, this depends on the watts per hour and the hours used per day.

What kinds of machines use a lot of electricity?

  • Things that heat or cool tend to use more electricity than other appliances.

Lesson 2:

Fruit Battery

Objective
Students will experiment with fruit to create electricity.

Purpose of Activity
Apply Skills, Create

21st Century Skills
Collaboration

Cognitive Level
Strategic and Extended Thinking

Class Time
30 minutes

Materials

  • A variety of citrus fruits (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit)
  • Copper nail, screw or wire (about 2" or 5 cm long)
  • Zinc nail or screw or galvanized nail (about 2" or 5 cm long)
  • Holiday light with 2" or 5 cm leads (enough wire to connect it to the nails)
  • Electrical tape or alligator clip

Procedure

  1. Compile appropriate hando
  2. Divide students into groups.
  3. Hand out fruit to each group. Use a variety of fruits to compare results.
  4. Gently roll the fruit to soften it, being careful not to break the skin.
  5. Insert the zinc and copper nails into the fruit approximately 2” or 5 cm apart. Don’t allow the nails to touch each other. Do not push the nails all the way through the fruit.
  6. Remove about 1” of the plastic coating from the leads of the light. This can be done ahead of time.
  7. Wrap one lead around the zinc nail and one around the copper nail. Use the electrical tape or alligator clips to keep the wire from falling off the nails.
  8. When the second nail is connected, the light will turn on.

Critical Thinking Questions

What’s happening?

  • Citrus fruits are acidic, which allows their juice to conduct electricity.

Does this experiment work with other fruits?

  • Fruits with a higher acidic level will also work. Have students record their observations.

Is the citrus battery powerful enough to make other objects work?

  • It should work using objects that only require one AA battery. Take out the battery and then touch each wire to one of the nodes in the battery slot of the object.

Expanded Information

You’ve covered the basics of energy efficiency. If you really want to dig deep with your class, check out the expanded information and additional resources below.

These materials provide even more insight into the history, science, usage and importance of energy. There are also helpful links and tips for energy efficiency in your community.

Expanded Info: How We Generate Electricity

Introduction

Read the passage below to your students and ask them the discussion questions that follow.

Read to your class

We use electricity every day to power our TVs, computers, video games, lamps and about a million other things. But where does electricity come from, and how does it get into those funny looking holes in the wall?

Let’s go backwards. The outlets in your wall are connected to a series of wires that lead to utility poles outside of your house or apartment building. These wires then lead to transformers or substations, which, in turn, lead to a power plant. It’s in the power plant that the electricity is created.

In the 1800s, scientists discovered that when a magnet is dragged across a series of copper wires, it creates a field of electricity. The problem is, in order to keep your lightbulb lit, there has to be a constant current of electricity flowing through it, which means the magnet has to be continually moving. To solve this problem, the magnets in the power plant are surrounded by wires on all sides. So if the magnets spin in a circle, they create a nonstop current.

But how do we keep that magnet spinning? One way is to attach it to a turbine. A turbine is like a giant fan. Imagine a child’s pinwheel. If the magnet were attached to that pinwheel, then it would spin any time the child blew on it. In the power plant, the pinwheel-like turbine isn’t spun by a child with amazing lung capacity, but instead with steam. By focusing steam through smaller and smaller pipes, it becomes so powerful it can spin the turbine with great ease.

All that steam comes from boiling large amounts of water. The more water we boil, the more steam we produce; which takes us to resources. All of that water has to boil somehow, and we make that happen by burning resources like coal, oil and natural gas. The more electricity we make, the more resources it takes to make it. And because there’s only so much coal, oil and natural gas in the world, it’s more important than ever that we conserve, or save, electricity wherever possible.

Build a Power Plant

Use the objects below to build a power plant. Click on the play button to start.

turbine generator

What is another way we can spin the turbine?

  • We can put a turbine in a river. This is how hydroelectric dams work.
  • We can also use the wind to spin a turbine in a windmill.

What happens when we run out of resources like coal or natural gas?

  • They’re gone. We will have to use renewable resources like wind, solar or hydro.

EDUCATOR ASSESSMENTS  

Follow-up, formative assessments for you to gauge the learning of your students are especially important with e-learning. Below are some suggestions for how you can assess your students’ performance quickly and effectively.

These assessments are easy for you and your students to complete and help ensure your class is getting the maximum educational value, retention and engagement from the related digital activities.

STUDENT ACTIVITIES  

The Energy Agents student activities page features games, videos, educational lessons, downloadable PDFs and more. Access in the classroom or at home to learn more about conservation and have fun exploring Energy Guardians!

Access Student Activities

EVALUATION

We take your feedback and suggestions very seriously. Hearing from educators with firsthand experience with our programs ensures that we continue to improve our digital resources, making them as beneficial as possible for you and your students.

Please complete this brief, two-minute evaluation to let us know what you thought.

Thank you for your time and valuable input.