Where does energy come from?
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DISCUSS:

What changed? Why was my childhood life so much easier than my great-grandma’s?

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DISCUSS (1 of 2):

So far, what are the advantages (good parts) of getting energy by burning coal?

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DISCUSS (2 of 2):

Besides coal and wood, what other sources of energy have YOU heard of that you burn to release energy?

Hint...

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DISCUSS:

What kinds of alternative sources of energy have you heard of?

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Optional Extras

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the Exploration and Activity you just completed.
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Readings about Renewable Energy Sources

These readings are free with registration at Newsela or Readworks, both excellent sources of supplemental reading.

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Readings about solar energy

These readings are free with registration on Newsela. Readings can be adjusted for reading level. A writing prompt and a quiz question are available for each reading.

  • Read about groups who want to bring solar power to more communities. (Grade 3)

  • This article describes a new solar panel that can make power from sunlight and rain. (Grade 3)

  • This reading introduces a Thai street vendor who cooks chicken with sunlight. (Grade 4)

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Activity: Solar Oven

If you live somewhere with sunny weather, consider building a solar oven to make s’mores, a tasty treat.

You’ll find instructions here on NASA’s Climate Kids site. If you’d like the instructions as a pdf, scroll to the bottom of the page and look for “download this activity as a pdf.”

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Videos about Energy Sources

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Analyze and Discuss: Wind Energy Near You?

Challenge your class to choose a spot to build a “wind farm,” a group of electricity-producing wind turbines. Look at this map of wind speeds across the United States and think about the best place to put a wind farm. Is there a good place for a wind farm near you?

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Image & Video Credits

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Other
100 year old woman by Dan Negureanu
1945 firewood collection Berlin by Archival collection
AC window unit by Your best digs
Blue fire by Only Backgrounds
Blue flame by Mehmet Cetin
Boiling water by Arsenyg
Boy in shopping cart by Melbourne's biggest family album
Boy looking out winter by Maja Marjanovic
Boy mountain bikes by Collin Quinn
Burning wood by Love and Rock
Chemistry by Olivier Le Queinec
Coal Pile by Oleandra
Coal Pile by Oleandra
Coal chute by Overcrew
Coal miner working by Desperado
Coals by Rostislaw RST
Digital thermostat by Topseller
Electric heater by Freer
Electric power tower by QuiJu Song
Five Generations by Adam Selwood
Florence Italy, 1890 by North Wind Picture Archives
Horse and hay by Tasmanian archive
Kids around a camp fire by VIA Films
Malabotta Wood, forest by Diego Barucco
Man at computer by Director photo collection
Old Venetian courtyard by Niday Picture Library
Outlet by Rhonda Roth
Pumping gas by Dapoppta
Refrigerator door open by Marcello
Shipping containers by Lynn Media Global
Smoke village in winter by Grishayev
Smokey chimney by I'm Visuals Pictures
Tea kettle by Tedgun
Timber truck by tidepool stock
Tinder by AmyLv
Train fire, shovel by DocDop
Woman grocery shopping by 06 Photo
Wood burner stove by Andy Rogers
Overview
Grade 4th
Topic Energy, Motion, & Electricity
Focus Energy Resources & Environmental Impacts
Print
Activity Prep

In this Mystery, students analyze the advantages and disadvantages of different sources of energy, including burnable fuels and alternative (renewable) energies. In the activity, Power this Town, students obtain and combine information about wind energy, solar energy, and water energy. They use this information to determine the best alternative energy sources for a town called Boulderville.

Preview activity

Number of students:
Energy Plan printout Print 30 copies
Energy Plan Answer Key printout Print 1 copy
Energy Signs printout Print 1 copy
Wind, Sun, & Water Energy printout Print 30 copies
Wind, Sun, & Water Energy Answer Key printout Print 1 copy
Prep Instructions

We recommend students work in pairs. Homeschool students can work on their own.

Set Up Classroom for Discussion

Place each Energy Sign in a separate area of the room so that students can easily see them.


Teacher Tip

Some classes may want to do research on the towns we featured in the readings. All of them are real towns, but we changed the name of one town. We called the solar-powered town in Florida “Ranchtown,” but the actual name is “Babcock Ranch.”

Overview
Grade 4th
Topic Energy, Motion, & Electricity
Focus Energy Resources & Environmental Impacts
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