Energy nation

The Challenges

The energy company

The generation game

Geography and science

Timing: 30 minutes


  • Introduce the workings of different types of power station
  • Revise energy transformations


  • Self-assessment form


In groups – Students can research different ways of generating electricity and its energy transformation using the internet. After a set amount of time, or number of transformations, they can demonstrate their learning to the rest of the class.

As a class – Using an interactive whiteboard, the whole class can offer suggestions to complete the energy transformations. This is a good way to promote a class discussion.

You could ask:

  • what particular pieces of machinery do
  • how energy is wasted or lost
  • why the Sun is at the start of most of these energy transformations

This activity also includes a short interconnector game that demonstrates how we trade electricity with France. This can be used by individual students independently, in groups or as a class.

Go to The generation game

The control panel


Timing: Half a lesson to one and a half lessons plus homework


  • Introduce energy generation methods
  • Introduce the greenhouse effect


  • Self-assessment form


In groups – In three or fours, students can develop their ideal energy mix. These can then be tested on the control panel, in front of the class, using an interactive whiteboard. The results can act as a starting point for debate.

You could ask the students to predict the consequences of their choices, with the control panel judging impartially.

You could also use the online materials in conjunction with Information cards 1–13 for a more detailed project approach to the question of creating, and more importantly justifying, an energy resource mix. You can assess the project by inputting their solutions into the control panel.

Older or more able students can be assigned viewpoints that need to inform their selection. These viewpoints can include those of an environmentalist group, an oil company or an environmental charity.

Go to The control panel

Download Information cards 1–13

Electricity trading


Timing: One lesson


  • Introduce students to the intricacies of electricity trading and the National Grid


  • Student performance during the activity, teacher led questions once the activity is completed


The activity needs some prior preparation. You will need:

  • a plastic water container with a volume of 20 litres or more, filled with water. Water-cooler bottles are ideal
  • four 1.5 metre lengths of rubber tube (different bores if possible)
  • duct tape
  • four large plastic beakers with millilitre scales marked on the side
  • a selection of at least 16 plastic beakers of varying sizes with millilitre scales marked on the side
  • two large plastic jugs
  • a small table
  • a whistle
  • a builders’ bucket
  • a stopwatch

This is a potentially messy exercise that needs to done outside, with an appropriate group of students.


As a class – Read these notes in conjunction with Activity card 1: Electricity trading.

Place the water bottle on the table and fill it with water. Ensure that it is stable and secure.

Feed one end of each tube through the mouth of the bottle, so that the ends are a centimetre or two from the bottom. Use duct tape to secure the other ends to the outside of the bottle and the table as in the diagram.

When you are about to start, siphon the water through the tubes. The water represents the electricity supply from four power stations.

The activity then proceeds according to the instructions on the activity card

Once the production forecasts and demands have been made, the ‘National Grid’ must decide whether it is going to need any extra water from you, kept in the bucket. You represent the electricity that can be imported or exported. If they need more water, they must get it from you before the ‘energy suppliers’ tip their collected water into the jugs. If they have too much water, they need to give the extra to you. This represents surplus energy that can be exported.

Start slowly so everyone knows what they need to do. The process can then be speeded up, but it should be stressed that the activity is about getting the process right. It is not a race and students should be discouraged from running for safety reasons.

A risk assessment needs to be carried out before running this activity. It will also need to be contextualised by giving the students information about energy trading prior to the lesson.

Download Activity card 1: The Energy company: Electricity trading