Energy home

Notes on Using energy

This topic covers four different aspects of using energy.

1) Energy at home

2) Where does energy come from?

3) Energy sources

4) Shine a light!

You could explore the different aspects of energy separately, or together as a larger project.

Key words: energy, electricity, gas, cable, pylon, power station, electricity meter, coal, oil, gas rig, pipe, gas meter, decay, batteries, renewable energy source, non-renewable energy source, circuit, switch, connect

Expectations

Most pupils will be able to describe how electricity and gas gets into their homes; know that some energy sources will run out and some will never run out; be able to make an electrical circuit that includes a switch to light a bulb.

Pupils working at a lower level will understand that gas and electricity are brought into their homes; be able to make an electrical circuit to light a bulb.

Pupils working at a higher level will be able to identify differences between how gas and electricity get into their homes; name some renewable energy sources and some non-renewable energy sources; be able to identify why a bulb will not light in an incomplete electrical circuit and correct the problem.

 1) Energy at home

Objective: Understand how energy is used in the home

Online activity: Energy at home (10 mins)

Before starting this activity, discuss with pupils the things that are found in different rooms of a home. In this activity pupils are asked to identify the appliances that need energy to work in the Energy Home.

When pupils have completed the activity, discuss which appliances and which energy sources they use most often at home. Ask them to think about other places that they go, eg swimming pool, play centre. What things use energy there?

Go to Energy at home activity

Activity card 3 and 3b: Energy diary

Discuss the energy that pupils use at different times of the day and show them how to fill in the simple energy diary on 3: Energy diary. They could write about what they use on the top line or draw a picture in the space below the line instead. They should also consider what the energy enables the appliances to do, eg kettle heats water, sound comes from a television, light from a torch.

Additional support: Use the simplified version of Activity card 3 so that pupils only have to consider one thing for each time. Discuss with pupils how they know that something uses electricity (it usually has a plug) and what things they use at different times of the day (eg toaster at breakfast, computer at school, television after school).

Extension: Encourage pupils to think of things that use different energy sources. Can pupils think of an item that is used before school that needs gas or petrol for energy?

Download Activity card 3: Energy diary 

2) Where does energy come from?

Objective: Understand how the energy we use in our homes (electricity from sockets and batteries, and gas) gets there

Online activity: Where does energy come from?

Pupils follow an interactive ‘treasure hunt’ to discover how energy reaches their homes.

a) Where does electricity come from? (5 mins)

Before pupils at tempt the activity, ask the class what they know about electricity. List their responses on the board. Explain any words or terms that pupils might not be familiar with, eg cable (something that carries electricity), power station (a place that makes electricity from energy sources).

After pupils have completed the activity, discuss the answers to the last question, which asks ‘What is used to make electricity?’ Explain that trees, coal, oil and gas are all burned in power stations to make electricity, and that sunlight and wind can be used to make electricity too.

Discuss how coal, oil and gas were formed millions of years ago from dead animals, plants and trees. Ultimately almost all energy comes from the Sun because animals eat plants and plants get their energy from the Sun. To help pupils understand this, tell the following story and draw the pictures described in brackets as you go along: The Sun shines (Sun in the middle of the board). This makes plants grow (flowers and trees around the Sun). Animals eat the plants (cow). Sometimes we eat meat from animals and sometimes we eat plants (child’s face and a hamburger). Our energy came from the Sun: Sun, plants, animals, us. Millions of years ago, when some plants and animals died their remains got squashed (squashed wiggles near some plants and animals). Some of this turned into gas (wiggly line rising like smoke); some turned into oil (a pool); and some turned into coal (jagged lumps). We use these energy sources to make electricity, which makes our televisions, computers and other things work, and use oil to make petrol. All the energy we use comes from the Sun.

b) Where does gas come from? (5 mins)

In this activity, pupils learn about how gas gets to their homes. Before pupils at tempt the activity, ask the class what they know about gas. List their responses on the board. Explain any words or terms that pupils might not be familiar with, eg gas pipe (something that carries gas).

After pupils have completed the activity, discuss the answers to the last question, ‘What is gas made from?’ Explain that millions of years ago trees, animals and plants died and when their bodies decayed a gas was formed. This is the gas that people burn today in cookers and fires and use to heat the water for radiators. Ultimately all energy comes from the Sun (because animals eat plants and plants get their energy from the Sun).

c) How do batteries work? (3 mins)

This animation explains very simply that the electricity in a battery comes from a chemical reaction. Emphasise that even though a battery does not have a plug that connects to a wall socket, it still produces electricity.

To help pupils understand what is happening inside a battery, you could make a potato battery. You will need a potato, a piece of copper and a piece of zinc (some nails might work for this), two conducting wires and a very small bulb (only about half a volt of electricity will be produced).

Stick the copper and zinc into opposite sides of the potato and connect a wire to each. Join the other ends of the wire to the bulb. The bulb will light. Explain that the moisture in the potato provides the liquid that the two metals need to produce electricity.

Go to Where does energy come from? activity

Activity card 4: Where does electricity come from?

Discuss each of the pictures and what they show. Ensure that pupils understand what power stations, pylons, cables and electricity meters are all used for and where they are found. Pupils cut out the pictures and stick them in the correct order to show how we get from plants and animals to the electricity in a television in our homes. When pupils have finished they can ‘switch on’ the television by drawing a picture on its screen.

Additional support: Give pupils the pictures in the correct order and ask them to explain what is happening at each stage.

Extension: Ask pupils to make up their own ‘cartoon’ of pictures to show how we get electricity to make something else work.

Download Activity card 4: Where does electricity come from?

Activity card 5: Where does gas come from?

Discuss each of the pictures and what they show. Ensure that pupils understand what gas rigs, pipes, tanks, and gas meters are all used for and where they are found. Pupils cut out the pictures and stick them in the correct order to show how we get from plants and animals to the gas in a cooker in our homes. When pupils have finished they can ‘switch on’ the cooker by drawing and colouring flames under the saucepan on the cooker.

Additional support: Give pupils the pictures in the correct order and ask them to explain what is happening at each stage.

Extension: Explain that most electricity in the UK is produced at power stations that burn gas. Ask pupils to put in order some pictures from  4: Where does electricity come from? and this card to show how gas is burnt to provide electricity to make a television work.

Download Activity card 5: Where does gas come from?

3) Energy sources

Objective: Understand that energy can come from different sources, some of which will run out, and some of which won’t

Online activity: Energy sources (10 mins)

This activity involves playing a computer game that demonstrates the differences between renewable and non-renewable sources.

Go to Energy sources activity

After playing the game, carry out the following activities to reinforce the idea of renewable and non-renewable sources.

  • Fill an ice cream tub with water and another tub with sand. Hide black, brown and yellow counters in the tub containing the sand and hide brown and yellow counters in the tub containing water. Make sure that there are enough counters altogether for pupils to take out one counter each. Put the tubs on a table and ask pupils one at a time to take out one counter from either one of the tubs. Say that the black counters represent coal that’s found underground, yellow is gas and brown is oil, which are both found underground and under the sea. When all the counters have been taken out explain that this is what will happen one day: there will be no more gas, coal or oil left underground or under the sea. They will have run out. That is why they are called non-renewable sources.
  • Make a paper windmill by folding a square of paper and pinning it to the end of a stick with a paper fastener. Ask a pupil to blow on it to make the blades turn round. When the child is running out of puff, they pass it to the next child and so on round the classroom. Explain that this is an example of wind power. The wind keeps on blowing and will not run out.

Activity card 6: Renewable and non-renewable energy sources

Pupils identify which energy source is being described and decide whether the source is renewable or non-renewable by looking at Information card 4: Renewable and non-renewable energy sources for help.

Additional support: Ask pupils to look at Information card 4: Renewable and non-renewable energy sources and design a poster for either the non-renewable sources showing that the sources will run out, or for the renewable sources showing that the sources will not run out.

Extension: Pupils can write and talk about the similarities and differences between the renewable sources and non-renewable sources.

Download Activity card 6: Renewable and non-renewable energy sources

4) Shine a light!

Objective: Explore simple circuits

Online activity: Shine a light! (10 mins)

In this activity pupils learn how to make a simple circuit and how batteries need to be inserted.

Go to Shine a light! activity

Activity card 7: Circuits

If practical equipment is available, pupils could try to make circuits, first predicting whether or not they will work and recording their predictions on the card. Alternatively, pupils could complete the card after experimenting with circuits, as an assessment or a homework activity.

Remind pupils of safety rules when using batteries and electrical equipment.

Additional support: Pupils could make an electrical circuit to light a bulb and then draw what they did.

Extension: Pupils could make up their own electrical circuit puzzles like those on the card for others to solve.

Download Activity card 7: Circuits