When I started teaching AP Environmental Science, I had to learn how to teach about electricity. My background was in the biological sciences, and it had been too long since my high school or college classes for me to recall the minutiae of this information.
A quick online search led me to Switch Energy Alliance (SEA) videos, where I found that explaining what electricity is and how it’s generated was fairly simple: electricity is just the flow of electrons, like water flowing. So far pretty easy, but, just like a mouse who has been given a cookie, now I wanted some milk. I wanted to know more.
I learned that most of the electricity in the United States is generated by heating water to turn a turbine that powers a generator. Wow! Now you have electricity (I still love to explain the simplicity of the process to my students). But, now that I had some milk, wouldn’t a straw be nice?
Understanding the what and how of electricity was only the starting point for me to understand why we use the sources of energy we do. That’s when I watched the SEA video The Demand Curve. This video explains the complex system required to simply turn on the lights. Like a mouse with a cookie, I kept asking for more, and SEA was there to deliver.
In 2019, SEA formed their Teacher Advisory Council (TAC). The SEA TAC developed an entire energy curriculum for use on a new and innovative online learning platform, Switch Classroom, which was launched in the fall of 2020. Through Switch Classroom, teachers can not only find helpful videos like The Demand Curve, but teacher-designed lessons that accompany each one to use with their students. The lessons on Switch Classroom not only explain the complexity of energy in general, but also the specific limitations and advantages of each type of energy.
You will likely find that, just like a mouse with a cookie, once you start using one lesson from Switch Classroom, you’ll quickly want to use more.
Here’s a sequence of lessons, along with their descriptions, to help you and your students start on your energy journey:
Switch Energy Alliance Teacher Advisory Council Member (2019 – 2021)
Garfield High School, Seattle, WA
AP Environmental Science Teacher
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