Energy Town


Notes on The search for energy

  • To understand that many objects around us use energy
  • To know that a complete circuit is needed to light a bulb
  • To know that fuel, an energy source, is burned to heat water in power stations
  • To understand why substations can be dangerous places
  • To know that electricity is generated in power stations, which burn fossil fuels, and wind farms
  • To know what is meant by renewable and non-renewable energy sources.

Key words: energy, electricity, circuits, batteries, fuel, gas, oil, substation, generator, power line, turbine, wind farm, power station, coal, source, nuclear, biomass, hydroelectric energy, environment, National Grid, volts, kilovolts, carbon dioxide, fossil fuel

Estimated timing: total duration 40 mins; Part 1: 10 mins, Part 2: 15 mins, Part 3: 15 mins


Most pupils will: identify objects in the home that use energy; understand that different equipment uses different energy sources; know that a complete circuit is needed to light a bulb; understand that heating water to a higher temperature uses more fuel; know that substations contain high-voltage electricity; know that electricity is generated in power stations, which burn fossil fuels, and wind farms which use renewable energy; understand the terms ‘non-renewable energy sources’ and ‘renewable energy sources’ and name some examples of both.

Pupils working at a lower level will: know that many things in the home need energy to work; know that not all equipment uses electricity; know that substations can be dangerous places; know that power stations and wind farms generate electricity; understand that fuels such as coal are running out and that burning them is bad for the environment.

Pupils working at a higher level will also: identify the different energy sources used by equipment in the home and know its origins; know that switches control electric circuits; understand some environmental impacts of burning more fuel or using more energy at home; have a basic idea how both a coal power station and a wind turbine works; know some advantages and disadvantages of renewable and non-renewable energy sources.

Notes: This challenge is aimed at pupils aged 7–9. Pupils follow an energy trail from the user back to the source, discovering how energy gets to homes.

This challenge is a series of three inter-related activities, which may take more than one session to complete.

The class can be introduced to the project and theme of ‘energy’ through Part 1: Energy at home, on an interactive whiteboard if available. Part 2: Substations is an animation that shows pupils where electricity comes from. This should be watched as a whole class so the main points of the video/animation (eg how electricity is carried around the country, how electricity flowing along power lines can be dangerous, what pupils should do if they lose something near a substation) can be emphasised and discussed. Part 3: Power! can be tackled in pairs and afterwards the class can discuss and answer questions about how a wind farm and power station generate electricity to ensure that they have understood the main points and differences between the two ways of generating electricity.

Go to The search for energy activity