Renewable Energy, Gr. 5-8

 Renewable Energy, Gr. 5-8  

In the ESP’s Renewable Energy Unit, students learn about such sources of renewable energy as biofuels, wind, solar and hydroelectricity. Students learn primarily through a series of modeling activities. These activities at times require students to develop their own experiments or use design technology to build their own models. Embedded within the unit is an understanding that to meet the increasing global demand for energy, we all need to use the energy more thoughtfully and efficiently.

The interest in renewable energy resources comes from concerns about the nonrenewable resources of coal, oil and natural gas. One of the growing concerns about coal, oil and natural gas is that these fuels give off carbon dioxide when burned.  Significant changes in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have been linked with Climate Change. This EPA website provides background information on climate change.

An excellent student-friendly website for general information on both renewable and nonrenewable energy is the U.S. Energy Information website “Energy Kids.”   Another student-friendly website from the U.S. Department of Energy is “Kids Saving Energy.” 

The Department of Energy's website is great for a variety of short articles on topics ranging from geothermal heat pumps to alternative fuel vehicles. The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy website provides background information for teachers on a wide range of topics from solar hot water heating to biomass programs.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration provides statistics on the use of renewable and nonrenewable energy in New York state.

For additional information on landfill gases such as methane check out the EPA FAQ

In Activity #8 students design and build a solar cooker. Sources of inspiration and possible plans are available. Instructions to make a solar hot dog cooker are also available.

Saved by the Sun” is a 2008 PBS video available online.   This video provides a detailed view of solar electricity. 

*This unit is best taught in fall and spring when students can go outside to test their model solar homes. 

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