In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about energy sources. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Energy Sources topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Classroom Activities for Teaching About Energy Sources
Have students research different devices, machines, or vehicles that use solar power. Tell children that the International Space Station runs on solar power! Students may be surprised to discover what can be powered by the Sun’s energy. Have individuals or partners pick one solar-powered item and prepare a presentation for the whole class. Students may want to create a poster or even make a model of their findings. How might a solar-powered calculator be better for the environment than one that uses disposable batteries or one that plugs into a wall socket?
Explain to students that the shape of windmill blades can help them turn faster and work more efficiently. Research a few wind turbines together and compare and contrast the blades. Then as a simple engineering project, challenge small groups to come up with different designs of pinwheels using paper, pushpins, and straws. Which shape turns the fastest? Why? Have groups test their pinwheels outside on a particularly windy day. They can count the number of rotations per minute to test their shapes. Encourage them to record their findings and then share their pinwheels and data with the class.
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching About Energy Sources
As a design challenge, have your child improve a device or machine by making it “greener” and friendlier to the environment. Ask questions to help him or her start the thinking process: What makes the device successful or what do you like about the device? What can be improved? What kind of power does it use? How can you incorporate renewable sources of energy to help it function? Your child can sketch pictures or diagrams or write specifications to flesh out ideas. He or she could even make a digital prototype using online tools or a physical model using blocks, clay, or other material.
Did you know that when appliances are plugged in, but not in use, they still consume energy? Some appliances, such as refrigerators, are always plugged in because they are constantly used. However, other appliances such as coffee makers may be plugged in even when they are not in use. Have your child go through your home and make a record of every item that is plugged into a wall socket. The results may surprise you. What appliances should be plugged in? What can only be plugged in when used? See how much you can save on your energy bill!