Energy world

Notes on Using energy

Notes on Using energy

The energy trail


This challenge has been designed to be used as a complete set, but sections can be used independently. The activity takes students on a journey from the ultimate source of electrical energy to its end-use in our homes. Used as a complete activity, The energy trail is an excellent way for 14–16 year olds to revise energy and electricity.

Timing: Two lessons for the entire activity


  • Self-assessment forms
  • Student performance during activity


Individually or in small groups – The students can run through the activities on their own or in small groups if there are enough computers.

As a class – If used on an interactive whiteboard, individual elements can be extracted from the activity. If used in this way, answers can be selected by class vote and students can work in small groups with one vote per group. A tally can be kept of correct votes if more than one of the activity elements is used, and this can result in a winning team at the end of the process.

The energy trail is made up of the following activities:

Ultimate energy sources


  • Introduce the ultimate energy sources – the Sun, the Earth’s core and the atomic nucleus

This section is predominately fact based. The correct choices lead to detailed explanations and animations. Watch the animations before the lesson so you can describe them confidently. If this is being used as a revision activity, students could be asked to talk the class through the animations.

Go to Ultimate energy sources



  • Introduce complex information on turbines in an easy-to-understand way

Without turbines, producing electricity would be more difficult and less efficient. This information based section allows students to research different types of turbine. Each turbine is accompanied by an animation. These can be viewed in sequence to illustrate their similarities and differences.

As a lead in to this section, students could develop a way of converting high-pressure steam into rotational kinetic energy without using a turbine. Ask them how efficient they think their method would be.

Go to Turbines

The generator


  • Illustrates the workings of generators

The generator is an animation that can be used as a virtual dynamo experiment. The rotating coil in the magnetic field produces a trace on a virtual Cathode Ray Oscilloscope (CRO). The user is able to alter the number of turns on the coil, the speed of the coil and the strength of the magnets and see the effects on the CRO trace.

Go to The generator



  • Illustrate how electricity is distributed throughout the UK

This is a virtual distribution system where the user can see how step-up and step-down transformers transfer electricity from the power stations to towns.

Go to Transmission

Electricity in your home


  • Illustrate domestic uses of electricity

The topics covered are meter reading, plug wiring, using a kettle in an energy efficient way, saving energy and spotting electrical hazards.

If the students are working in small groups, their solutions can be tested on the whiteboard. Choices can be made by voting. This can be a powerful way to develop a topic focused discussion.

Go to Electricity in your home

Think safe!


Timing: One lesson


  • Actively revise electrical safety measures


  • Written report which you can assess


IndividuallyStudents are encouraged to think about electrical safety by considering how they would teach it to primary pupils. They will need access to research materials on electrical safety contained in the E.ON Energy Experience and Information card 18 and Information card 19.

If possible or appropriate, an arrangement could be made with a primary feeder school for the students to deliver these sessions for real.

Download Activity card 4: Using energy: Think safe!

Download Information card 18: Safety first!

Download Information card 19: Safe as houses

The energy efficient kettle


Timing: Two or more lessons or can be set as a project based activity


  • Tie together work on heat transfer, efficiency and environmental effects of electricity generation


  • Written project which you can assess


In small groups – Students will need access to PCs to conduct research

The activity can be split into three phases:

  • Market research – Students create questionnaires to discover why people might overfill their kettles, what people want from their kettles and how they want their kettles to look. The questionnaires could also find out how much people know – or care – about environmental damage caused by wasting energy.
  • Design – Using the results of their questionnaires and their scientific knowledge, students design a new kettle. They will need to consider how they might make their kettle more efficient by thinking about how energy is wasted. They will need to consider how heat energy is transferred when doing this. The main focus will be on thinking about how to measure the amount of water needed.
  • Advertising, PR and marketing – Students must decide how they are going to sell their kettle. The two main ways they can think about this are to focus on how it will save the consumer money by using less energy, and how it will save the environment by creating less carbon dioxide and therefore slowing the progress of the greenhouse effect and climate change.

Students will need to use scientific knowledge and be clear about the facts when designing and marketing their kettle.

Download Activity card 5: Using energy: The energy efficient kettle