Education Resources

Energy Sparks: Signposting of Energy Education Resources, Lesson Plans and Suggested Teaching Material

This page signposts energy related resources, and can be used by teachers planning lessons or pupils researching energy projects. We have identified 200 different resources and have catalogued them below. If you know of resources we have not included please let us know and we can add them to our database please email us . We have grouped the resources 4 ways:

  1. By Source e.g. the EnergyPod program (EDF) or the BBC
  2. By Topic e.g. nuclear power
  3. By Media Type e.g. video, lesson plan, games, quizzes
  4. By subject e,g, Maths, Science, Geography

In addition we are developing some of our own programs focused on the Energy Sparks website. We have also tried to rate the resources (out of 5) to provide some guidance on which individual videos, lesson plans etc. within a given categorisation are best in our opinion, please let us know if you disagree and we will adjust the ratings accordingly.

By SourceBy TopicBy MediaBy SubjectSuggested Programmes

Teaching Resources grouped by Source/Programme

There are a reasonable number of complete energy education programs available for example Energy Pod or the BBC, the more comprehensive sources are highlighted below. It is possible to construct a series of lesson plans or projects entirely from one source, however some are better than others. The programmes are largely dominated by the big 6 energy companies, some of which provide better and more up to date resources than others. The other main source is charitable or EU projects which tend to be more neutral, but are often out of date as they don’t receive on-going funding:

Energy Pod
energy pod logoEnergy Pod which is funded by EDF has the most comprehensive and rich source of information and programmes. It has full time staff maintaining the program and is closely associated with the Eco-Schools programme. To get the most out of the Energy Pod programme a bit of research is required as the material has developed over time, so you need to be selective over which material you use in order to construct a cohesive series of material. To use all the material you need to register with Energy Pod and this can take a few days – so plan in advance if you think you might use it!
A few of these resources are currently missing following Energy Pod’s website reorganisation in June 2017 – we will try to update them if and when they re-appear – email us if you would like us to chase Energy Pod for them, or you have spotted them on their website?

URLhttp://jointhepod.org/home

List of Energy Pod Resources
NASA ClimateKids
Climate Kids is produced by the Earth Science Team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and California Institute of Technology. This website has some great resources including the powerful Climate Time Machine – : https://climatekids.nasa.gov/time-machine/ which are suitable for both KS2 and KS3.

URL: https://climatekids.nasa.gov/

List of NASA ClimateKids Resources
SEACS
SEACs LogoSEACS is an EU funded programme which was developed in conjunction with Devon, Dorset and Wiltshire Councils. As a result it is a little more neutral than the programmes provided by the energy companies as it is not trying to promote or market any particularly company for example by understating the pollution caused by coal power stations. It is however not maintained and so over time any information it provides will become further out of date. It also more experimental than some of the other programs, for example using a model house to teach about insulation, which may involve more preparation time and materials.

URLhttp://en.seacs.eu/

List of SEACs Resources
Energy Saving Trust
The Energy Saving Trust provides advice to the public to help lower emissions and cut energy bills. This website provide some good background material on renewable energy technology and energy saving quick wins.

URL: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/

List of Energy Saving Trust Resources
Young People's Trust for the Environment
The Young People’s Trust for the Environment is a charity which aims to encourage young people’s understanding of the environment and of the need for sustainability. Their resources and videos provide awareness of environmental problems, such as climate change, disappearing wildlife, the pollution of soil, air and water, the destruction of rainforests and wetlands, the spread of desert regions and the misuse of the oceans.
URL: http://ypte.org.uk/
List of Young People's Trust Resources
E.On Energy Experience
Eon Energy ExperienceE.On Energy Experience Resources focuses on interactive computer based quizzes and games. It also has good background material on sources of energy for electricity generation. The material, particularly with respect to wind and solar is a little out of date as we think it was developed in 2009 and much has changed since then. Please also test the interactive software before using the the classroom, as we found it wasn;t 100% reliable with the latest versions of Macromedia Flash.

URLhttps://www.eonenergy.com/about-eon/energyexperience

List of E.On Energy Experience Resources
BBC
BBC test cardThe BBC provides a good range of videos on electricity generation particularly in the area of renewables. The videos which were developed in Scotland and Northern Island are generally quite short, so could be useful additions to other non-video classroom work. As they are produced by the BBC they provide a more neutral presentation of the issues compared with some of the material produced by the energy companies.

URLhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/education/topics/ztv4q6f/resources/1

List of BBC Resources
Schools Environmental Review Programme

banes_logo_0Bath and North East Somerset Council in combination with Resource Futures have put together an ‘Schools Environmental Review’ programme consisting of a series of questionnaires for pupils, caretakers, kitchen staff, heads and office staff which is aimed at making schools more environmentally aware. Its is quite a general programme so it also includes other non-energy related environmental subjects like waste.

URLhttp://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/environment/sustainability/schools/environmental-review-documents

List of Energy and Environment Resources
Energy and Environment
Energy and Environment ManchesterEnergy and Environment provides a structured programme of lessons developed by the Children’s University of Manchester. It provides a relatively balances mix of science orientated lesson plans covering the full gamut of energy education through a series of resources.

URLhttp://www.childrensuniversity.manchester.ac.uk/interactives/science/energy/electricity/

List of Energy and Environment Resources


Generation Green

Generation GreenGeneration Green developed by British Gas provides a limited mix of a video, lesson plans and interactive software covering how electricity and gas get to homes, insulation and energy around the world.

URLhttp://www.generationgreen.co.uk/

List of Generation Green Resources


Teaching Resources grouped by Topic

This section is broken down by subject. The main subjects are the different sources of electricity e.g. coal, gas, nuclear, wind etc. You need to be a little careful when suing the information as some of it is out of date – the ‘UK Electricity Energy Mix’ has changed dramatically in the last few years, with for example coal’s contribution reducing from 30% to almost nothing in 2017 and wind increasing from almost nothing to 12%. Other subjects include energy saving, insulation, how electricity gets from the power station to homes.

Electricity
UK Electricity Energy Mix 2016Electricity is the most convenient of our energy source as it can be used for most applications from lighting, through heating and for transport. It is however expensive and more carbon intensive than gas for heating, and is more expensive/less convenient to store (batteries) than oil for transport. The graph to the right shows the mix of energy sources producing electricity in 2016 – click this link for the real-time values (solar not included). The carbon intensity of the grid is also dropping rapidly as the result of phasing out of coal from about 500g CO2/kWh 2 years ago to 300g CO2 this year. As a result some of the teaching material on this subject can be a little out of date. This is an interesting report on the changes in energy use in recent years, including a significant reduction in demand due to greater energy efficiency.

List of Electricity Resources
Gas
Natural gas is our main source of energy for heating, and also the largest source energy used to produce electricity. Gas supplies 71% of our heating and hot water  need, mainly via modern efficient gas boilers – and this is just the same for schools. The remaining 29% is made up of electric storage heaters, oil and biomass (wood) – which are quite common in rural areas and schools where there isn’t a gas supply. Gas is also sometimes used for cooking. Gas is easy to transport by pipeline and sometimes in big tankers by sea.

For: Cheap, flexible- so gas power stations output varies all the time to dynamically match supply and demand
Against:  alot of imported to the UK, a fossil fuel – so produces CO2 when burnt – so a cause of Climate Change
Interesting fact:  Natural gas is odourless – a smelly chemical is added to it in the UK, so people can tell when it is leaking
Located:  Spread around the UK, generally away from habitation

List of Gas Resources
Nuclear
Nuclear Power StationNuclear Energy is a low carbon source of electricity, and provides a significant amount ‘baseload’ electricity in the UK – i.e. it is always running even when its not windy and sunny.

For: Low carbon, baseload
Against: Very high initial capital, planning cost. Disposing of nuclear waste afterwards. Accidents e.g. Chernobyl, Fukushima
Interesting fact: 80% of France’s electricity comes from Nuclear power. 100 grammes of uranium will produce enough electricity to power an average UK home for a year
Located:  Away from homes to avoid radiation risk. Near large bodies of water e.g. the sea as lots of water is needed for cooling

List of Nuclear Resources
Wind Turbines
Wind turbinesWind turbines produce electricity when its windy, and are now the 3rd largest source of electricity in the UK. The UK is quite a good place for wind turbines as its very windy. Onshore wind turbines have fallen out of favour because some people think they look ugly despite them now being almost the cheapest form of energy, and can now be installed without a subsidy. Offshore wind turbines are still being installed, and although they are expensive they have the benefit of producing more energy as it is almost always windy out at sea.

For: Low carbon, potentially quite cheap (onshore)
Against: Only work when its windy, can be noisy if standing close to them, some people find them ugly
Interesting fact: Some modern wind turbines can be more than twice as tall as Nelson’s Column
Located:  Away from homes, often out at sea

List of Wind Resources
Coal
Coal Power StationCoal used to be the UK’s main source of electricity and heat. In the past most homes had open hearths (fires) where coal was burned. Coal used to be brought to the house in sacks by a coal merchant. The UK also had lots of coal mines, where miners used to dig coal from deep underground – now there are almost no coal mines left. Coal is a very dirty fuel, producing lots of smoke and pollution and is one of the main contributors to global warming. The use of coal in power stations to produce electricity has declined in recent years; the government have said they will phase out its use within 10 years. Very few people now heat their homes with coal.

For: Quite a cheap fuel
Against: Very high CO2/carbon, creates smoke and pollution, can be dangerous to mine
Interesting fact: In 1920 1,250,000 people were employed mining coal in the UK, now less than 3,000 are employed
Located:  Away from homes due to the pollution, needs transport links (rail) for coal delivery

List of Coal Resources
Biomass
Biomass Wood Power StationBiomass is energy produced from plant based material, and can come from a wide variety of sources – often waste products. Common biomass energy sources are woodchip, a waste by-product of the wood industry (trees are round and not straight unlike planks), specially grown crops for example Elephant Grass, and human waste. Coal power stations are now being reused to convert biomass into electricity. Biomass is also used for heating – wood, wood chip and wood pellets.

For: Uses up waste product, low CO2/carbon in long term, as the plants which are burned absorb CO2 when they grow
Against: Creates pollution
Interesting fact: Wessex Water used to run buses in Bristol on the no. 2 route using gas produced from human poo! Malaby Biogass Centre produces enough electricity using Bath’s kitchen waste to provide all the electricity for the town of Warminster. St Mary’s Primary School, Timbury near Bath has a biomass boiler to keep the school warm.
Located:  Away from homes due to the pollution, need to transport

List of Biomass Resources
Solar
Solar PanelsSolar photovoltaic (PV) panels can be used to produce electricity, and solar thermal tubes can be used to produce hot water. Their cost has dropped by 75% in the last 5 years.

For: Low CO2/carbon, low maintenance, cheap to install, last for up to 40 years
Against: Only works during the day, and best when its sunny. Some people think the panels are ugly
Interesting fact: The Space Station and most satellites are powered by solar PV panels – as the cable back to earth would be too long, and it would get wrapped around the earth as they orbit the earth! Bath and West Community Energy is the largest community owned solar electricity producer in the UK, and has installed solar panels on 8 different schools in the Bath area.
Located:  On buildings and in fields, better in the sunny south of the UK!

List of Solar Resources

 

Hydro, Tide and Wave
Hydro Water WheelHydro, tide and wave technology is used to produce electricity from water.

For: Low CO2/carbon, low maintenance
Against: Hydro needs lots of rain. Tide and wave systems need to be very tough to cope with bad weather at sea
Interesting fact: The River Frome just to the south of Bath has 14 hydro plants in different places producing electricity. Bath and West Community Energy has just installed its first hydro plant in Bathampton.
Located:  Hydro plants are installed on rivers and at the end of lakes (dams), and do best in the north of the UK where it rains alot! Wave and tide plants are still being researched but most are based in the sea to the west of the UK where there are large tides and big waves

List of Hydro, Tide and Wave Resources
Energy Saving
Schools Energy Best Competition Newbridge School Switchoff CampaignMost energy related activities and programmes in schools are based around behavioural change to reduce energy consumption; switching lights and appliances off, and turning thermostats down. Energy saving is often the most cost effective and simplest way of reducing CO2/carbon emissions by reducing demand. There are a reasonable number of example programs based around energy saving in schools documented below and on the suggested programmes tab above.

In addition to behavioural change, updating lighting (e.g. incandescent and halogen bulbs to florescents and LEDs), appliances (A, A+, A++ rates), boilers (modern condensing) , loft and cavity wall insulation is a very good way of saving money and reducing energy demand. The UK has reduced its energy consumption in the last 14 years by 18% by doing this.

For: Reduces Co2/carbon emissions and helps climate change, saves money – switching appliances and lights off costs nothing
Against: very little
Interesting fact: LED bulbs use less than 10% of the electricity or incandescent bulbs

List of Energy Saving Resources
Insulation
Batheaston School Thermal Imaging 5Insulation in our clothing keeps us warm on cold days. It also helps make our homes, buildings and schools reduce how much heat they lose during the winter, making them warmer and reducing how much money we spend on gas and other fuels. Insulation in our buildings is often hidden, in the walls, in lofts and under the floor. Its is a cheap way to save energy and money; making our homes and schools cheaper to keep warm. To understand about insulation is is important to learn about conduction, convection and radiation first.

For: Reduces Co2/carbon emissions and helps climate change, saves money
Against: very little, but can be difficult and expensive on our old buildings which may not have a cavity in their walls
Interesting fact: Using a thermal imaging camera you can walk around Bath and from the outside of houses, see through walls where radiators are installed on the inside of homes – the houses in the thermal imags above need to put radiator reflectors behind the radiators to stop the heat leaking out

List of Insulation Resources
Climate Change
CDS climateClimate change is caused by humans, largely the burning of fossil fuels, which create pollution (CO2. methane), which stops heat escaping from the earth which makes the earth warm up. Becoming more energy efficient, reducing our use of fossil fuels, moving to low carbon energy (wind, solar, nuclear) will help reduce the amount of CO2 we emit and avoid the world becoming too hot. Along with the world becoming warmer, climate change will cause more violent weather, with lots of flooding.

Climate change is a problem which affects the whole planet, not just the UK. It also has to be address globally not just locally.

Interesting fact: If all the ice in Greenland melts, most of the polar bears will die, the sea level around the world will rise by 7 metres, flooding most of the worlds cities, including London and Bristol.

List of Climate Change Resources
Fossil Fuels
CDS climateBurning fuels, like gas, coal and oil to make electricity, heat our homes and power our cars is the main sources of greenhouse gases (CO2, methane) which cause climate change. They also cause lots of pollution, which make people ill and are responsible for 40,000 premature deaths on the UK each year.

Interesting fact: Fossil fuels come from rotting plants and animals which died millions of years ago

List of Fossil Fuel Resources
Renewables
Example solar farm with wild flowersExamples of renewables are solar, wind, hydro, wave and tidal energy. They are renewable because the earth has a continuous source of sunshine, hyrdo, wind, wave and tide energy we can use. The subject is covered in more detail in the individual section on solar, wind, hydro, wave and tidal energy above. However, some of the teaching resources specifically group renewables together as a single topic, see below.

List of Renewable Resources
Lesson Plans
Energy and Environment ManchesterLesson plans vary in quality and information provided. We have tried to include a rating for each plan, the length of the proposed lesson and any preparation time (rarely indicated).

List of Lesson Plans
Videos
Busters VideoEnergy videos vary in length and quality, but most of the videos in the resources below are of good quality, tailored for children, short and concise and a good way of making a lesson on energy more interesting and fun.

List of Videos
Powerpoints
Busters VideoA wide variety of existing powerpoint presentations are available to save you time, often they are provided as part of a lesson plan.

List of Powerpoints
Resources
Busters VideoThe list of Resources below are a generic list of information which can be used in classrooms for teaching about energy. They include for example posters for energy saving campaigns, posters of how electricity is produced, paper games and quizzes, and factual web pages on different energy topics.

List of Resources
Interactive Software
Interactive SoftwareThe energy companies have invested significant amounts of resources into mainly online interactive software to teach children about energy. The software is a good way of teaching kids about energy, however, you need to work out for yourself the best way of using it – perhaps as a whole class exercise or with small groups and the relevant ICT equipment.

List of Interactive Software
Games
Computer Game Energy SparksGames have also been developed to teach children about energy, again you need to evaluate whether a particular game fits into your lesson plan, and whether your pupils are actually learning something from playing these games – some are better than others. There are a mix of paper based, PC based and online games.

List of Games
Teaching children about energy is an excellent way of introducing real-world problems and situations into the classroom environment. Learning about energy generally falls within the following subjects: Maths, Science, Geography, Citizenship and to a lesser extent English.

Maths
The subject of energy provides a good opportunity to teach about real-world maths problems, particularly those associated with energy saving; how much energy has been saved, how much energy an appliance uses etc.. The greatest opportunity arises when using Smart Meter data and charts like those provided on the Energy Sparks website.

List of Maths Resources
Science
Wind speed measurementThere are numerous opportunities to teach about science in the context of an energy programme. These can experimental projects like finding out whether your school is suitable for renewables like solar and wind, how well different types of insulation work or just learning about how electricity is produced from differing energy sources.

List of Science Resources
Geography
Wind mapThe geographical location of power plants is important to how well they function and how they coexist in their environment. Weather plays a big part in this particularly with renewables. Climate change can also be taught, in particularly its future impact and how this might affect our choices of energy sources and why becoming more energy efficient is important.

Most electricity sources are specifically located, generally away from our homes and cities; some like nuclear require lots of water for cooling and are generally situated on the coast, wind turbines work better in windy locations like in mountainous regions and out at sea, solar panels work better in sunnier parts of the country,

List of Geography Resources

And this by suggested programme