Energy is important to all of us. Ignite curiosity and passion in your students with these energy activities perfect for any STEM classroom.
As scientists continue to research the effects of harvesting fossil fuels and develop methods for alternative energy resources, STEM teachers must introduce students these topics. By using projects that allow students to engage in energy activities, teachers are able to illustrate how energy is sourced and consumed. The following energy activities are not only helpful to support a lesson, they also teach students that they can shape how humans continue to use resources through STEM careers in the future.
1. A Need for Wind Speed
The California Energy Commission’s Energy Quest site provides instructions for students to build an anemometer to measure approximate wind speeds. Through discovering the number of rotations of their anemometer, the class will experience the process used to calculate how much wind is necessary to be effectively converted to energy. This activity will allow students to think about the aspects of meteorology and engineering that are used to channel the force of the wind into electricity.
2. H2O Re-energized
Water is vital to life, yet beyond the essential support provided to the human body and Earth’s environment, it is also usable as an energy source. Show students how water is used to generate hydroelectric power by following Teach Engineering’s plan to build a waterwheel. Not only does this plan outline the project, it provides background regarding humankind’s use of water power, information to show how dams work, and methods to engage students in discussions that will prepare them for the task and allow them to use the knowledge gained after its completion.
3. Let the Sun Drive In
Through using one of PBS’ most comprehensive energy activities, students will examine the features and benefits of vehicles that run on solar power. Researching data and studying the differences between gas-, solar-, and alternative-energy-powered cars allows students to understand energy options for vehicles. By designing their own cars and establishing the driving habits of a hypothetical driver, students will create circumstances to yield a thorough understanding of real-life vehicle issues.
4. Generating Energy Conscientiousness
Playing board games is a fun method of bringing together friends, family members, and classmates. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Generate! is fun and educational, as it teaches students about the how humans source and use different types of energy. The game allows students to compete for the lowest total score through using the formula Purchase cost + Operating cost + CO2. Available in middle- and high-school versions, all the game’s components are available on the EPA site.
5. A Personal Stance on Energy
When students recognize personal connections to problems, they tend to take steps to improve the situation by changing their own behaviors. Teachers can show students how the use of energy in their own lives increases resource consumption. Using energy activities that calculate usage will allow students to identify the consumption areas in which they must improve. National Geographic’s Personal Energy Calculator reveals the energy consumption and policies in countries around the world, while the EPA’s climate change calculator allows students to discover how their use of energy affects the environment.
These energy activities are engaging and can be implemented at a low cost, but increasing student understanding of this topic is priceless. After engaging students through energy activities, learn more about careers in this and other STEM fields in STEM Jobs’ Early Spring edition.