Energy Resources

by  Jerry W. Kousen

Hobart High School, Hobart Indiana
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Research questions




Suggestions for students

Information for teachers

Author's      e-mail



electric.gif (13035 bytes)INTRODUCTION

        As a consumer, you have to pay for access to phone, cable or electricity service in your home.  Television advertisements for different long distance phone companies appear every hour of every day.  Telephone customers did not always have a choice of phone companies.  Consumers used to have to pay one company assigned to their geographic area to receive phone service. 
        Indiana consumers currently do not have a choice of who generates the electricity.  Most Indiana consumers are assigned by the government to receive coal-generated electricity from a few companies.  Companies assigned to certain regions of the state or U.S. by the government are known as utilities

        Some states are redesigning this method since the federal government gave the okay to begin restructuring utilities.   Consumers in these few states are now able to choose a company that uses other resources to generate electricity.  Government legislation providing a "choice" in companies providing electricity  is called deregulation.   Click here to see current updates about the deregulation progress in the fifty states (the table may take a few seconds to load after the title appears, so please wait).

        For more information about deregulation, please read the hyperlinked documents for Maine and Iowa electricity consumers.  


You will work for an assigned power plant.  You will work with three to four other people to design a sales presentation or an infomercial to educate and influence consumers.  Those power plant energy resources will include biomass, coal, geothermal, hydropower, natural gas, nuclear, and wind.


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Read the consumer deregulation hyperlinks in the "Introduction" section.  Each individual in the group will respond to links in your journals by discussing issues the links focused on and what are your feelings on these issues.

Research your assigned power plant energy resource using the hyperlinks listed in the "Resources" section.  Answer the questions below.  Each person should keep track of their resources in bibliography form in individual journals.   Evaluate each source informally to make sure you are receiving accurate information.  You should even cite sources that you used for pictures.

Create a Power Point slide show.   For helpful hints, go to "Suggestions for Students."

Find a web page of a real power plant using your assigned energy resource.  For help searching for power plants, go to "Sources." Create a link somewhere in your power point presentation.

Present your findings and Power Point slide show in a sales presentation or an infomercial to the citizens (your other classmates).  The presentation/infomercial should be at least 5 minutes long, but no more than 15 minutes.  The presentation/infomercial should be entertaining, relevant, and informative.  Each group will turn in a detailed job list to help calculate your grades.

After the presentations, all students will reflect in their own journals about energy resources.

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A.  Is your energy resource renewable or nonrenewable?  Explain why it is considered renewable  or nonrenewable? 

B.  What are some benefits to using this energy resource?

C.  What are the costs of using this energy resource in terms of environment, money, and health?  What are some technologies that help reduce the cost (environmental, monetary, health)?

D.    How is the energy resource turned into electricity (give details--identify generator, turbine, electromagnet, boiler (if needed), transmission lines, transformers, distribution lines in explanation)?  How much of the electricity produced nationally OR internationally is generated from your energy resource?

E.  What is the history of your energy resource?  Where is this energy resource found?  How is the resource accessed?  How much would provide 1 Btu?

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Book031.gif (1126 bytes) SOURCES

Secondary InfoBook -- this book will provide you with background information for your energy resource; just scroll down to "Infobooks" and click on Secondary Infobook

The Energy Story -- provides information on all energy resources except biomass; textbook format on California's energy education web site

Clean Energy 101 -- fills in the gap for biomass as well as other renewable resources; on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory web site

Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology (CREST) -- has great links and information for renewable energy resources and actual power plants; click on Renewable Energy or Energy Efficiency

American Electric Power -- has more information on coal power plants, but also provides other links as well.

Edison Electric Institute -- provides background information and links to other sites that may lead to power plant listings

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) -- this government site provides miscellaneous information on energy and links to other government sites; could be useful on background information on energy resource

National Energy Foundation -- provides some excellent links for information on energy resources, the environment, and more...BE CAREFUL!!  This site is compiled by users, but is maintained by the National Energy Foundation.  Hopefully, they check user entries--many entries/sites may be biased, so evaluate your information.

WebCrawler --   Do your own search!  You can use this metacrawler or another search engine of your choice.  Read the Help information on advance searching for any search engine to make sure you are using the search engine correctly.  Include the words "power plants" to narrow your search.

If you need to go back to view information on deregulation, click Maine or Iowa.

        When reading an article or viewing a picture, whether it is in Time, The Globe or on an Internet site, the reader has to always question the information provided.  As a consumer, you will have to know how to evaluate the source to determine if the information is accurate. Kathy Schrock's site will help you to evaluate your articles and pictures.  Another good way to validate information is to find other information supporting it from another reputable article.

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Student Evaluation:  You will evaluate yourself and the other people in your group with the following rubric.  I will average the scores for each person; please be honest.  This evaluation comprises half of your grade.
Criteria 1-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9-10
Cooperation No communication talked about other things; complained about tasks would work when others asked them to initiated a couple ideas; would work when others asked self-motivated; initiated several ideas
Work Load answered one of the questions answered two questions involved in some planning; answered a question searched for pictures/information; planned; answers Involved in everything; work divided equally
Work Quality just a half page of scribbled notes showed some effort, but many errors showed some effort; with some errors showed good effort; work was good quality High quality work; few errors, lots of info
Time on Task sat with the group and that's it mostly talked about other things worked about 50 % of the time worked most of the time, but could easily be distracted by others worked all of time on our project; not easily distracted

Teacher Evaluation:  I will use the following rubric to evaluate your presentation.  Under normal circumstances, each person in the group will receive the same group grade, but it will be added to your individual grade you receive from the student evaluation.  Please turn in a detailed job list at the time of the presentation to help me calculate individual scores.
Criteria 1 - 2 3 - 4 5 - 6 7 - 8 9 - 10
PowerPoint use one slide two or three slides; no graphics one graphic; a few slides, but paragraphs a few slides, but paragraphs OR a couple graphics Outline; good graphics; transitions and builds
Presentation persuasiveness giggled through entire presentation some giggling; just read screen just read the screen Some reading of PowerPoint; background  Presentation interesting and entertaining; PowerPoint not focus, but used
Presentation organization No one knew who was going to talk Delay in presentation; missing info Delay in presentation OR missing info A couple glitches, but still pretty smooth Very organized!
Answers for questions only one answered a couple answered about half answered OR all answered with many errors all answered with some errors all answered; no errors in information

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Switch.gif (266 bytes)CONCLUSION

        As a consumer, you should now have an idea of what resource would be the best for you.   Answer the following questions in your journal.

        1.  Which resource is the best for you?   Explain, providing at least three reasons why you feel the resource is the best.   Is this the resource you would purchase?  Why or why not?
        2.  What information surprised you in either the presentations or your own research?  Why was the information surprising?
        3.  Which energy resource do you think is the worst in providing electricity?  Why?

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Newbig.gif (2937 bytes)SUGGESTIONS FOR STUDENTS

Your PowerPoint will be most effective if you consider the following:

Type a skeleton outline.  It is better to talk to the audience than to read paragraphs of information off the slide that your audience can ALSO read.  An outline will force you to NOT read.

Use PowerPoint as a background to your presentation.   It should enhance and reinforce what you say.  It should not be the focus.

Cite sources for pictures you have on your slides with a caption.  It can be small.

Watch some infomercials for ideas; this is by NO MEANS required!  However, in channel flipping, you'll see many different formats from talk show to news to drama.  Be creative, but also keep it relevant.

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Atom23.gif (6197 bytes)INFORMATION FOR TEACHERS

        I have used this unit with 9th and 10th graders, but it can easily be adapted to many levels.  It corresponds with Indiana State Proficiency 6.3:  "Energy Resources and Use" for middle school, accomplishing many of the tasks identified in that section.

        Depending on class size, you may want to decrease the number of power plants.  When I have done this with students, I find that groups of four or five work best.  I have had groups of six or seven and a few students will do all the work.  I have also had groups of three and the kids feel overwhelmed.

        I did not include nuclear power this year when I assigned this project to my students.  This year was the 20th anniversary of Three Mile Island.  One article published in March, 1999, in the Indianapolis Star called nuclear energy a "dying" energy source.  This claim was supported by the fact that many nuclear plants' licenses are due to expire in 20 years and operators are choosing not to renew licenses because of overwhelming costs and maintenance.  Many countries that progressively used nuclear energy are not building anymore nuclear plants and are opting for other energies.  However, I am going to include it next year because some students will live in regions with nuclear power as an option and will need to be informed about the pros and cons of it.  You can find many articles supporting this hot topic in other news periodicals published the same month.

        One resource that I have used for about three years with the students was developed by the NEED (National Energy Education Development) Project.  I received their 1994 Secondary Energy Facts booklet during a workshop I took through the Center for Economic Education at IUPUI.   However, they now have their 1997 energy booklets available online in pdf format at American Electric Power's web site for all levels (primary, intermediate and secondary) FOR FREE!!  Just scroll down to "Infobooks" and there is also a link to download Adobe Acrobat, if needed.

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I work with 10th-12th grade biology students.  2001-02  will mark my 16th year in the classroom.  I have taught in 4 different high schools and one university during my teaching career.  I have taught Integrated Science, Biology, Environmental Science, Water Analysis, and Physical Science at the high school level.  At the college level I have taught Science Methods, Foundations of Education, and Microbiology.

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