Energy world

Distributing energy

 Electron Island

Science and geography

Timing: One lesson


  • Introduce or support work on electricity distribution


  • Self-assessment forms
  • Student performance during activity
  • Written report or presentation that you can assess


In groups – The students can run through the activity on their own or in small groups if there are enough computers. Alternatively provide the groups with print outs of the island map and other necessary data. This way they can work to develop a paper based solution.

Once each group has created a solution, they can present it to the rest of the class. Each solution can then be tried on the whiteboard to test its effectiveness.

As a class – You can use this activity with an interactive whiteboard.

This complex activity for advanced students can be used at the end of a unit dealing with electricity distribution as it brings together a number of topics in a single activity.

It can also be used as the starting point for an energy project. The project could look at the current situation on the island and how its energy needs could be met entirely by renewable resources. Students could look at the costs involved in decommissioning the existing nuclear power station, and the costs involved in installing suitable renewable generation technology. They would also need to consider possible increased distribution costs as electricity would probably be generated in different locations with renewable technology.

For older or more able students, you could introduce the idea of carbon trading. If Electron Island reduced its carbon emissions, it would be able to sell carbon permits to countries whose carbon output is greater than their permit allocation.

This project can end with a written report and a presentation back to the rest of the group. A class vote could then be used to choose the best solution.

Go to Electron Island

 Distributing electricity




  • Support work on electricity distribution, especially step-up and step-down transformers


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


The activity needs some prior preparation. You will need sufficient supplies of the following items depending on the size of your class and how you wish to scope the activity:

  • high-voltage pylons: 40cm lengths of 12mm dowel
  • low-voltage pylons: 25cm lengths of 12mm dowel
  • step-up transformer: 10 x 10 x 10cm wooden block painted black with two flat-head nails
  • step-down transformer: 10 x 10 x 10cm wooden block painted white with two flat-head nails inserted next to each other 
  • branch connector: 10 x 10 x 10cm wooden block painted red with one flat-head nail
  • 400,000 volt line: 1 reel of green ‘Builders’ Line’ type string
  • 11,000-33,000 volt line: 1 reel of red ‘Builders’ Line’ type string
  • Sticky tape and dispenser
  • Monopoly money or some other token that can be used as a money substitute


As a classThe class is divided into teams. The instructions for running the activity and associated rules are described on Activity card 8. The activity is designed to be run outside on a grassy area where the ‘pylons’ can be easily pushed into the ground.

Download Activity card 8: Distributing energy: Distributing electricity