Teaching Energy to Gifted and Talented Elementary School Students with Switch Classroom

Julie Valsaint  ·  SEA Teacher Advisory Council
August 3, 2022

I teach 3rd through 5th grade Gifted and Talented students. The gifted students at my school meet once a month for an hour, we do this six times a year. At the first meeting with the students I introduce them to an organization called The NEED Project. NEED introduces my students to all things energy and provides the student infobooks for free as a download. Within NEED you can find lessons on different types of energy sources (wind, solar, hydro, biomass, etc). For the short amount of time I have with my students each month, I pick certain topics within NEED to teach them.  The Wind Energy and Hydro Energy lessons are my main focus, and I spend about two class periods on each topic. I use Switch Classroom as a supplemental resource to the NEED project, because it helps my students better understand different sources of energy.  

Our first meeting together involves showing them the NEED website, the opportunities within NEED as a student and giving each student the Energy Poll from NEED. We begin with hands-on lessons using the Science of Energy Kit. Here my students become familiar with potential and kinetic energy, chemical energy, endothermic and exothermic processes, and radiant energy transformations. It takes us two, one hour class periods to make it through all six of the stations. After introducing my students to Science of Energy, we head over to the Switch Classroom. In the Gifted Google Classroom, I post videos for my students to watch before the return to our next session. Since our Gifted students only meet once a month I ask them to watch the videos online in their google classroom, this helps to keep them engaged even when we are not together. I assign Introduction to EnergyFoundation of Modern Life video and the Hydropower Primer video. These videos help my students better understand what we will be doing as a whole group when we meet again. 

Our next two, one hour sessions, are spent investigating Wind Energy. In Oklahoma, we have wind farms, but they are not in our area. I want my students to understand that while we get our energy one way, hydroelectric, other areas of our state and country receive energy from other sources. We spend one class period completing the lesson “Wind Can Do Work”, this lesson uses a windmill to lift a load of paperclips, from the Wonders of Wind Kit. The second lesson we do is “Blade Design Introduction”. Here the students work with a windmill that the teacher has put together and figure out how much my windmill will lift and then which blade design would generate the most electricity.  If you will attend a kidwind workshop, they will provide a fan and windmill for your class. I then assign the Wind Primer and the Science of Wind in the students Google Classroom for them to watch. 

Our next two meetings we start to dig deeper into hydro power. Our community receives its electricity from a dam that is about an hour away from us. I have the Wonders of Water Kit, my students use the kit to design a waterwheel.  We complete the lesson “Moving Water Can Do Work”, here students build a waterwheel using a pencil, Polystyrene craft ball, and paddles.  They add paper clips to the pencil to see how much load their waterwheel can move. In our next meeting together we watch Introduction to Hydropower and How Hydropower Works, then we use the Hydropower Plant worksheet to label the parts of a Hydropwer Plant. These activities take the entire school year to complete, and we conclude with a field trip to the Pensacola Dam and tour the hydropower plant. 

If you are looking for something extra to help support your energy lessons, Switch Classroom is the place to find it! It is quick and easy to join the classroom and you can link it with your Google account.

Back

Latest Posts

Earth and Environmental Quick Start Guide for Educators

The Earth and Environmental Science quick start guide is versatile and useful for middle school to high school educators. The lessons in this guide can be used as both core and supplemental resources for an environmental course or unit. With sixteen lessons, there is something for everyone! Educators can choose which lessons align best with…

Wind Energy Lesson: A March Favorite

The most popular lesson in March unleashes the power of wind energy! The Introduction to Wind lesson focuses on wind power as one of the fastest growing sources of energy, guiding students to discovering the trade-offs necessary for a balanced and successful energy transition. Start with the brief Wind Primer introduction video. It lays out…

Earth Day with Energy Efficiency

Switch Classroom’s no-prep lesson “Energy Efficiency” is the perfect supplement to the Earth Day focus of this month. It kicks off with a compelling video that students love. Dr. Tinker introduces students to the idea that energy efficiency is the most important step we can take in energy. Two important considerations are shared: eliminate wasteful…

Energize your Chemistry Curriculum

Level up your Chemistry curriculum energy unit with our specially curated Chemistry Quick Start Alignment Guide. Designed for high school chemistry teachers, this guide offers a wealth of free teacher, made-teacher ready energy resources for your course. Addressing Educational Challenges Finding high-quality, non-partisan, and engaging materials for energy-related topics can be a daunting task for…

Women in STEM: Shirley Ann Jackson

In the realm of science and innovation, Shirley Ann Jackson stands as a beacon of inspiration for women in STEM and all aspiring scientists. Her remarkable contributions to the field of energy have not only reshaped the landscape of technology but also paved the way for future generations of STEM enthusiasts.  Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson,…

Grace Stanke: Nuclear Engineer and More

We are thrilled to introduce Grace Stanke, a remarkable individual who is making waves both in the world of nuclear engineering and on the pageant stage. Named in the prestigious 2024 Forbes 30 under 30 for Energy list, Grace is not only a national advocate for nuclear power but also a shining example of excellence…

Women in Energy

Welcome to the March edition of the Switch Classroom newsletter! We’re excited to shine a spotlight on an important cause: recognizing the invaluable contributions of women in STEM. In this edition, we delve into how women have shaped the energy landscape and why promoting gender diversity in STEM fields is crucial for continued innovation. Why…

Essential Resource for Science News

Switch Classroom loves EurekAlert!, a non-profit science news-release distribution platform managed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). This helpful resource is updated hourly and will keep you up-to-date with scientific research in all disciplines. Educators and students can browse news releases by subject or use the direct links for various topics…

Lesson Planning with Switch Classroom: Fast and Streamlined

Lesson planning is easy with Switch Classroom! The Switch Classroom team is committed to ensuring that the platform is user-friendly and intuitive for educators, students, and parents. For educators getting started on creating lesson plans that align with your curriculum and goals, head to the Create Assignments page in Switch Classroom for a quick way…

Global Energy Insights in Dr. Scott Tinker’s Keynote

Dr. Scott Tinker, Founder and Chairman of Switch Energy Alliance, delved into the intricate trade-offs between climate security, energy poverty, and energy security at the 2023 ARC (Alliance for Responsible Citizenship) Conference, with his talk, “An Honest and Sensible Conversation about Global Energy”, now boasting over 1.4 million views.  This resource serves as a springboard…

5th Grade General Science and More with Switch Classroom!

Are you an upper elementary or middle school teacher, searching for energy resources and activities aligned to your instructional goals and curriculum? The 5th Grade General Science Alignment Guide is the perfect place to get a quick start on a variety of topics that get students excited about energy learning. Compiled by teachers across the…

NGSS and APES-Aligned Lesson ‘The Energy Mix’

The most popular NGSS and APES-aligned lesson in January was “The Energy Mix,” including the How We Make and Use Energy introductory video, which had over 17k views! In this lesson Scott Tinker takes students on a fascinating and compelling exploration of the different energy sources and their impacts.  Engaging supplemental materials include a bell…

Celebrating Black Innovators in Energy Science

This month we focus on celebrating the life and work of Black American inventors, engineers, innovators, and scientists who have made a difference in the world of energy research and technology. These pioneers shaped critical features of our energy landscape, often without the recognition they deserved and while confronting prejudice and injustice.  One such pioneer…

Newsletter: Fresh Energy Science Resources Each Month!

Exciting News! Switch Classroom now has a monthly newsletter full of practical, no-prep content that can be used in your classes today! Each issue promises educational resources, hands-on tools, and fascinating features to help you explore energy and environment with your students. This month, in honor of Black History Month, we celebrate the journeys and…


  

Rate this Video