How does a bulb light?
In this unit, students investigate an everyday phenomenon: electric light turning on. Students observe two strings of LED lights turn on. One is battery powered and one is powered by plugging into the wall outlet. Students record their observations and “wonderings”. The class develops a Driving Question Board (DQB), that helps generate ideas for investigations. Their questions drive the flow of the unit. Students plan and carry out their own investigations to answer these questions, which includes investigating electricity production and delivery, considering when and how to conserve, and recent and future changes in the energy system including changes in transportation energy demands. The unit culminates in a family action plan that the students develop and a plan for a clean energy community information event.
About This Unit
This energy unit has been created by the Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE) in collaboration with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Energy with support from the U.S. Dept. of Energy State Energy Program. This unit is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and is designed to integrate environmental education into the science curriculum. It has been designed to develop critical thinking skills, and to encourage students to think constructively about energy and environmental issues.
Part 1: Production
What happens when we turn on a light?
How is electricity produced?
Batteries store energy in chemical form.
Photovoltaic (PV) cells, or solar cells produce electricity directly from light.
Which energy sources power generators?
Generators can be powered by steam, wind, or moving water.
We can power a small generator.
Use of non-renewable resources
What is renewable energy?
Renewable energy sources are constantly replenished.
Part 2: Delivery
Smart grid sensors add efficiency and reliability.
Part 3: Efficiency
Mitigate climate change
What are our energy choices?
Natural Gas: Cooking/Heating
Produce power and send it to the grid
Use less energy and use it more efficiently
Energy star/LED lighting
Part 4: Changes
Using solar energy to heat water for steam
Neighborhood or community micro-grid
Large scale storage
Electricity can be used more for transportation and heating.
EV to grid
Can we replace fossil fuel powered transportation and heating with electric power?
Electric transportation and electric heat can help reduce or eliminate fossil fuel use.
Battery powered lawn mowers.
This document details the flow of lessons from the teacher perspective, including lab set-up and safety instructions, suggestions for discussion prompts, and examples of student work to assist in planning. Individual lessons from the Pathway document are included for reference, followed by detailed learning plans.
A number of consumable and non-consumable materials and supplies are used during investigations. Some additional, optional equipment can enhance the investigations if available.
IEPA Energy Kits containing the necessary non-consumable materials for this curriculum are available for checkout at libraries in the Illinois Library System.
Lessons in the Teacher Guide reference specific activity sheets; you can find links to these sheets below.