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Welcome to the Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Energy Detective

Lesson Description:
Detectiveboy Students will be able to...
  • Identify sources (the sun, wind, water, fossil fuels…) of energy.
  • Differentiate between renewable and non-renewable sources of energy.
  • Explain that energy is used to run many common objects (cars, refrigerators, tvs, toys…).
  • Make careful observations; collect and records data.

  • Energy is the ability to cause motion or create change. there are five basic forms of energy: light, sound, heat, electrical, and magnetic. There are two types of energy sources: renewable and nonrenewable. Renewable energy is extracted from natural, replenishing sources. the sun, wind, and water are renewable energy sources. Unlike fossil fuels, which are nonrenewable, damage the environment, and lead to climate change, renewable energy sources will never run out and don’t harm the environment.

Kid’s speak:
  • Energy is the ability to cause motion or create change. There are two types of energy sources: renewable and nonrenewable. Renewable resources are natural, organic sources, like wind, sun, and water. Nonrenewable energy sources are fossil fuels, like coal and oil; that damage the environment, lead to climate change, and will eventually run out.

  • The US Department of Energy reports that schools spend $8 billion per year on energy, more than is spent on computers and textbooks combined.

Before finding evidence of renewable energy ...
  • Begin the lesson by telling students that they are detectives assigned to find evidence of energy.
  • Divide the class into groups of two to three students and give each group an evidence sheet.
  • Tell groups that they must find evidence of energy to prove the case that natural energy exists.
  • When they find evidence, tell students, they must record it on their evidence sheet.
  • Tell groups they have three clues to help them along the case:

Energy can make things change. ...
  • Heat comes from energy.
  • Movement comes from energy.
  • Allow groups to begin their case. the search can be conducted indoors or outdoors.

Evidence sheet:
  • Collect and record evidence of renewable energy in your environment on the included evidence sheet below.

After finding evidence of renewable energy ...
  • Once groups have filled their evidence sheets, groups will then report to the detective agency (the teacher’s desk) and fill out a final report of their evidence. On the detective's report worksheet included below each group will write a definition of energy.
  • After each group submits a definition of natural energy, lead a class discussion on renewable energy. Groups share their definitions with the class.

  • Younger students can draw pictures of their observations and a final picture defining their definition of natural energy.

Lesson Type:
  • Other

Sustainability Topic:
  • Energy

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Energy Challenge

Time Needed:
30-40 minutes
Materials Needed:
  • Evidence sheet (included below)
  • Detective report sheet (included below)
  • Writing utensil

School or Group:
Contact Email:
Lesson Documents:
application/pdf EnergyDetective.pdf

The Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse is brought to you in partnership with

Center for Green Schools