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  • High School

    Energy

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Create a computational model to calculate the change in the energy of one component in a system when the change in energy of the other component(s) and energy flows in and out of the system are known. HS-PS3-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motions of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative positions of particles (objects). HS-PS3-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy. HS-PS3-3

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  4. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that the transfer of thermal energy when two components of different temperature are combined within a closed system results in a more uniform energy distribution among the components in the system (second law of thermodynamics). HS-PS3-4

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  5. Develop and use a model of two objects interacting through electric or magnetic fields to illustrate the forces between objects and the changes in energy of the objects due to the interaction. HS-PS3-5

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

Science and Engineering Practices

Developing and Using Models

Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed world(s).

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

Mathematical and computational thinking in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to using algebraic thinking and analysis, a range of linear and nonlinear functions including trigonometric functions, exponentials and logarithms, and computational tools for statistical analysis to analyze, represent, and model data. Simple computational simulations are created and used based on mathematical models of basic assumptions.

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 9–12 builds on K–8 experiences and progresses to explanations and designs that are supported by multiple and independent student-generated sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Crosscutting Concepts

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections

ELA/Literacy

  • RST.11-12.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account. (HS-PS3-4)
  • SL.11-12.5 - Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest. (HS-PS3-1), (HS-PS3-2), (HS-PS3-5)
  • WHST.11-12.7 - Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. (HS-PS3-3), (HS-PS3-4), (HS-PS3-5)
  • WHST.11-12.8 - Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the specific task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation. (HS-PS3-4), (HS-PS3-5)
  • WHST.11-12.9 - Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. (HS-PS3-4), (HS-PS3-5)

Mathematics

  • HSN-Q.A.1 - Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the scale and the origin in graphs and data displays. (HS-PS3-1), (HS-PS3-3)
  • HSN-Q.A.2 - Define appropriate quantities for the purpose of descriptive modeling. (HS-PS3-1), (HS-PS3-3)
  • HSN-Q.A.3 - Choose a level of accuracy appropriate to limitations on measurement when reporting quantities. (HS-PS3-1), (HS-PS3-3)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (HS-PS3-1), (HS-PS3-2), (HS-PS3-3), (HS-PS3-4), (HS-PS3-5)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (HS-PS3-1), (HS-PS3-2), (HS-PS3-3), (HS-PS3-4), (HS-PS3-5)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.
  • This video clip demonstrates the use and performance of a 50 foot long solar balloon. A solar balloon demonstrates the phenomenon of the conversion of one form of energy (solar/electromagnetic) into other forms (thermal, kinetic, and gravitational po ...

  • This lab activity has students making the connection between energy, the conservation of energy, work, and power. The lesson provides enough guidance to help students without directly stating what procedural steps to follow. This allows students to d ...

  • This is a lesson about elastic potential energy and conservation of energy as it relates to springs. The lab is performed with the spring from a push pen. In addition to the lab handouts, this resource also includes teaching tips.  The link ...

  • This resource is a worksheet which presents a situation in which Hot Wheels cars are released from various spots along an inclined plane so that their velocity can be measured at the bottom. In addition, the cars are allowed to crash into a small box ...

  • This resource is an online interactive activity that displays 12 different energy bar charts and requires students to match a written description with the charts. There is a scoring system that allows teachers to monitor student progress. This is an ...

  • This resource has students performing an inquiry lab to design a parallel electrical circuit to keep bulbs lit even when one in another branch is removed (burns out). The activity requires students to draw their circuits and to keep making changes, i ...

  • This 1 minute and 26 second video shows the phenomenon of a bowling ball being dropped onto a piece of clay and measuring the increase in temperature of the clay to demonstrate Conservation of Energy. A student drops the bowling ball onto the clay an ...

  • This two and a half minute video shows the phenomenon of a bowling ball being swung as a pendulum. A person releases the ball in front of a volunteer’s face and the video shows what happens as the ball swings away and returns. The video ca ...

  • This is an interactive image set and video set depicting 11 objects with both traditional photography and infrared photography. The infrared images show cold objects in the purple-to-black color range, while hotter objects show up as yellow-to-red. T ...

  • This resource has students construct a solar water heater. The resource includes background information, instructions for constructing and testing the solar water heater designs, as well as pre and post-lab questions to aid the teacher with assessmen ...

  • This resource provides background information about photovoltaic cells, has class discussion and assessment materials, and then incorporates all of those components into a laboratory activity in which the students determine the optimal angle of a ref ...

  • This resource provides the instructor with a video clip illustrating conservation of energy in a circus routine. Along with the video clip are questions that the teacher can use to hold a class discussion to help students understand how one form of e ...

  • This resource is a series of questions that help guide students to a better understanding of the Conservation of Energy. It starts by asking students to analyze the energies involved when a wagon is pushed up a hill, and proceeds to confront students ...

  • This resource requires students to use Conservation of Energy to determine the height a Hot Wheels car must be released from in order to complete a loop-the-loop. This resource does not teach the Law of Conservation of Energy, but it does require stu ...

  • This resource presents the students with three small activities which are all disguised as challenges. The first activity, "Deactivating the Bomb," requires the students to determine how much hot water to add to a beaker of cool water so that the fin ...

  • In this lab activity, students use a PAScar Dynamics System and Data Studio software to investigate the conversion of gravitational potential energy into kinetic energy. Before beginning the experiment, students are asked to list and describe the dif ...

  • This is a lab activity involving transformations between the gravitational potential energy, elastic potential energy, and kinetic energy of a system. An air track with a glider and a photo gate timer are needed to perform the lab. The lab is divided ...

  • This resource provides background information about semiconductors and photovoltaic cells. Then it has three parts to the lab activity: (1) solar cell(s) and small electric fan, (2) Lifting small masses with an electric motor, and (3) Powering a ligh ...

  • The resource (beginning on page 15) gives excellent background information that derives the equation for the conservation of energy of a falling object. Using that background as a guide, the resource then has the students perform an experiment with a ...

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  • A collection of blog posts from the Library of Congress and Trey Smith, 2015-16 Science Teacher in Residence, about teaching science and engineering with historical primary sources.

  • Students learn how to build simple piezoelectric generators to power LEDs. To do this, they incorporate into a circuit a piezoelectric element that converts movements they make (mechanical energy) into electrical energy, which is stored in a capacito...

  • Students explore energy efficiency, focusing on renewable energy, by designing and building flat-plate solar water heaters. They apply their understanding of the three forms of heat transfer (conduction, convection and radiation), as well as how they...

  • This simplified animation of a geothermal power plant from the U.S. Department of Energy illustrates commonalities with traditional power-generating stations. While there are many types of geothermal power plants, this animation shows a generic plan...

  • This short video surveys the different current and potential sources of energy - both non-renewable and renewable. It provides some discussion of the pros and cons of the different sources and explains how they are used to produce energy that people...

  • This is a team-based activity that teaches students about the scale of the greenhouse gas problem and the technologies that already exist which can dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Students select carbon-cutting strategies to construct a carbon...

  • In this classroom activity, students analyze visualizations and graphs that show the annual cycle of plant growth and decline. They explore patterns of annual change for the globe and several regions in each hemisphere that have different land cover ...

  • Student teams design and build solar water heating devices that mimic those used in residences to capture energy in the form of solar radiation and convert it to thermal energy. In this activity, students gain a better understanding of the three diff...

  • In this short activity, students or groups are tasked to make concept sketches that track the source of electrical power as far back as they can conceive. The concept sketches reveal students' prior conceptions of the power grid and energy mix, and l...

  • In this activity, students calculate the cost of the energy used to operate a common three-bulb light fixture, and compare the costs and amount of CO2 produced for similar incandescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs.

  • This activity introduces students to different forms of energy, energy transformations, energy storage, and the flow of energy through systems. Students learn that most energy can be traced back to nuclear fusion on the sun.

  • Students explore how various energy sources can be used to cause a turbine to rotate and then generate electricity with a magnet.

  • This activity introduces students to the process of converting sunlight into electricity through the use of photovoltaics (solar cells). Students complete a reading passage with questions and an inquiry lab using small photovoltaic cells.

  • In this exercise learners use statistics (T-test using Excel) to analyze an authentic dataset from Lake Mendota in Madison, WI that spans the last 150 years to explore ice on/ice off dates. In addition, students are asked to investigate the IPCC Like...

  • This online calculator converts from one energy unit to another - from gallons to British thermal units (Btu), kilowatt/hours to megajoules, short tons to metric tons.

  • In this 'Energy Education for the 21st Century' design challenge, students construct and evaluate a solar-powered model car. Students utilize the design process and undergo review by their peers to select an optimal gear ratio and components for thei...

  • Students gain experience using a spreadsheet and working with others to decide how to conduct their model 'experiments' with the NASA GEEBITT (Global Equilibrium Energy Balance Interactive Tinker Toy). This activity helps students become more familia...

  • This introductory video summarizes the process of generating solar electricity from photovoltaic and concentrating (thermal) solar power technologies.

  • This video introduces the concept of daylighting - the use of windows or skylights for natural lighting and temperature regulation - and how it is a building strategy that can save operating costs for homeowners and businesses.

  • This activity introduces wind energy concepts through a reading passage and by answering assessment questions. The main section of the activity involves constructing and testing a windmill to observe how design and position affect the electrical ener...

  • This activity includes an assessment, analysis, and action tool that can be used by classrooms to promote understanding of how the complex current issues of energy, pollution, supply, and consumption are not just global but also local issues.

  • This engaging video focuses on national and global wind energy potential by specifically highlighting Texas' role as wind energy leader and energy efficiency efforts in Houston, Texas.

  • This interactive diagram from the National Academy of Sciences shows how we rely on a variety of primary energy sources (solar, nuclear, hydro, wind, geothermal, natural gas, coal, biomass, oil) to supply energy to four end-use sectors (residential, ...

  • This video segment highlights how the U.S. military is the single largest user of energy in the nation, but it is also trying to reduce its carbon bootprint. Scenes taped at Fort Irwin and Camp Pendleton show the Army and Marines experimenting with w...

  • In this lab activity students generate their own biomass gases by heating wood pellets or wood splints in a test tube. They collect the resulting gases and use the gas to roast a marshmallow. Students also evaluate which biomass fuel is the best by t...

  • This introductory video describes the basic principles of residential geothermal heat pumps.

  • This video provides a simple introduction to wind turbines and how they generate electricity.

  • This introductory video covers the basic facts about how to keep residential and commercial roofs cool and why it is important to reducing the heat island effect and conserving energy.

  • This set of flow charts illustrates energy sources and uses in 136 countries around the world. The data from 2007, but is still useful for comparing energy patterns in different countries. This is the first comprehensive package of worldwide, country...

  • This video from the U.S. National Academies summarizes the energy challenges the United States faces, including the technological challenges, and the need for changes in consumption and in energy policy.

  • This video provides an overview of the research of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on converting biomass to liquid fuels.

  • This NOAA visualization on YouTube shows the seasonal variations in sea surface temperatures and ice cover from 1985 to 2007. The visualization is based on data collected by NOAA polar-orbiting satellites. El Niño and La Niña are easily identified,...

  • This NASA animation depicts thermohaline circulation in the ocean and how it relates to salinity and water density. It illustrates the sinking of water in the cold, dense ocean near Iceland and Greenland. The surface of the ocean then fades away and ...

  • This activity is a learning game in which student teams are each assigned a different energy source. Working cooperatively, students use their reading, brainstorming, and organizational skills to hide the identity of their team’s energy source whil...

  • This PBS video shows how Klaus Lackner, a geophysicist at Columbia University, is trying to tackle the problem of rising atmospheric CO2 levels by using an idea inspired by his daughter's 8th-grade science fair project. The video examines the idea of...

  • This animation illustrates how heat energy from deep in Earth can be utilized to generate electricity at a large scale.

  • This map shows how much electrical power is produced from wind in each state from 1999 through 2010. The animation shows a general increase in the amount of wind power produced per state and the number of states producing it.

  • This video segment from the Earth Operators Manual summarizes how fossil fuels are made, provides a comparison of how long it takes to store energy in coal, oil and natural gas, and discusses how fast we're using them.

  • This qualitative graphic illustrates the various factors that affect the amount of solar radiation hitting or being absorbed by Earth's surface such as aerosols, clouds, and albedo.

  • This NASA video reviews the role of the sun in driving the climate system. It uses colorful animations to illustrate Earth's energy balance and how increased greenhouse gases are creating an imbalance in the energy budget, leading to warming. The vid...

  • Sankey (or Spaghetti) diagrams parse out the energy flow by state, based on 2008 data from the Dept. of Energy. These diagrams can help bring a local perspective to energy consumption. The estimates include rejected or lost energy but don't necessari...

  • This Flash animation describes how hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) combine the benefits of gasoline engines and electric motors and can be configured to obtain different objectives, such as improved fuel economy, increased power, or additional auxili...

  • This is a series of 10 short videos, hosted by the National Science Foundation, each featuring scientists, research, and green technologies. The overall goal of this series is to encourage people to ask questions and look beyond fossil fuels for inno...

  • This interactive contains four animated slides that introduce the greenhouse effect. An additional animation offers to 'explore more'.

  • This map shows the pattern of thermohaline circulation. This collection of currents is responsible for the large-scale exchange of water masses in the ocean, including providing oxygen to the deep ocean. The entire circulation pattern takes ~2000 yea...

  • This is an interactive table with a comprehensive list of 29 greenhouse gases, their molecular structures, a chart showing a time series of their atmospheric concentrations (at several sampling sites), their global warming potential (GWP) and their ...

  • This video illustrates how atmospheric particles, or aerosols (such as black carbon, sulfates, dust, fog), can affect the energy balance of Earth regionally, and the implications for surface temperature warming and cooling.

  • This video segment is adapted from Building Big, a PBS series hosted by David Macaulay. It explores Hoover Dam's hydroelectric capabilities by explaining how it is able to harness the potential energy stored in the reservoir and convert it to electri...

  • This video segment, adapted from NOVA scienceNOW, addresses how new technology can help monitor and modernize the infrastructure of the U.S. power grid, which is ill-equipped to handle our increasing demand for electricity. Video provides a great ove...

  • This video segment from 'What's Up in the Environment,' shares how an entire home can be constructed using green energy sources (solar and geothermal energy). Video is narrated by young boy whose father is the chief engineer on the project.

  • In this video segment from NOVA's Saved By the Sun hour-long video, students learn about photovoltaics and see how two families are using solar technologies in their homes. The video introduces the ideas of state incentives and net metering benefit...

  • This is a utility-scale, land-based map of the mean annual wind speed 80 meters above the ground. This map can be used to evaluate the potential for wind energy in the US. State maps and more information are linked from the main map.

  • This animation presents the characteristics of wind power as a source of clean energy. The viewer may examine how a wind turbine works by pausing and clicking on its components. They include a gear box, rotor, high-speed shaft, generator, wind vane, ...

  • This set of six interactive slides showcases how a typical photovoltaic cell converts solar energy into electricity. Explore the components of a photovoltaic cell, including the silicon layers, metal backing, antireflective coating, and metal conduct...

  • This video describes how geothermal heat resources in California have been tapped to supply 850 MW of electricity. Images and animations show how the area known as The Geysers has been developed to capture steam, produced from trapped rainwater and ...

  • In this video clip from Earth: The Operators' Manual, host Richard Alley discusses China's efforts to develop clean energy technologies and to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, by building coal plants using CO2 sequestration technology. (scroll down pa...

  • This slideshow lays out a photo story with short descriptions of how designers of city buildings all over the world are taking climate change and rising sea level seriously.

  • This activity comes at the beginning of a sequence of activities in an energy module. Students observe the transfer of solar energy to different appliances with a solar cell and then they investigate the effect of using different solar sources to s...

  • This is a series of 5 guided-inquiry activities that examine data and models that climate scientists use to attempt to answer the question of Earth's future climate.

  • This activity leads students through a sequence of learning steps that highlight the embedded energy that is necessary to produce various types of food. Students start by thinking through the components of a basic meal and are later asked to review t...

  • In this interactive, students can investigate a typical hydrogen fuel cell prototype car from its fuel cell stacks to its ultracapacitor, a kind of supplementary power source. The limited-production vehicle seen in this feature is a Honda 2005 FC...

  • This video is one of a series of videos from the Switch Energy project. It describes three types of geothermal sources -- rare ones in which high temperatures are naturally concentrated near the surface, deep wells that require fracturing the rock an...

  • This video highlights the benefits of electric vehicles, including improved fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, and lower maintenance costs.

  • This video is one of a series of videos produced by the Switch Energy project. It presents the pros and cons of wind power, such as where to build, affordability, efficiency, transmission.

  • This suite of short video clips is part of a series produced by the Switch Energy project. There are several video segments that discuss different perspectives of biofuels as a renewable source of energy.

  • This is a long-term inquiry activity in which students investigate locations they believe harbor cellulose-digesting microbes, collect samples, isolate them on selective media, and screen them for cellulase activity. These novel microbes may be usefu...

  • A set of eight photographs compiled into a series of slides explain how urban areas are facing challenges in keeping both their infrastructure and their residents cool as global temperatures rise. Chicago is tackling that problem with a green design ...

  • In this short but effective demonstration/experiment, students investigate how thermal expansion of water might affect sea level.

  • This video is essentially an infomercial about electric cars - components, challenges, benefits - narrated by Antonio Neves of the.News and featuring various members of the auto industry.

  • In this activity students learn how Earth’s energy balance is regulating climate. This activity is lesson 4 in the nine-lesson module Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change.

  • This video addresses the importance of efficiency in providing power to an increasingly large global population.

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    This interactive addresses the question if we can reduce CO2 emissions by 20% of 1990 levels and help avoid dangerous climate change? Users of this interactive can manipulate changes to various sources and uses (supply and demand) of energy with the ...

  • In this hands-on activity, students explore whether rooftop gardens are a viable option for combating the urban heat island effect. The guiding question is: Can rooftop gardens reduce the temperature inside and outside of houses?

  • In this activity, students use Google Earth to investigate ideal features of wind farms.

  • This visualization explains in simple and easy-to-understand visuals the causes of sea-level change.

  • This interactive tool allows viewers to explore, by county, the areas of California threatened by a rise in sea level through this century.

  • This video describes how Colorado has planned for and uses clean energy resources to reduce its carbon footprint.

  • In this activity, students use authentic Arctic climate data to unravel some causes and effects related to the seasonal melting of the snowpack and to further understand albedo.

  • This animated video outlines Earth's energy. The video presents a progression from identifying the different energy systems to the differences between external and internal energy sources and how that energy is cycled and used.

  • This visualization shows the molecular interaction of infrared radiation with various gases in the atmosphere. Focus is on the interaction with C02 molecules and resultant warming of the troposphere.

  • This animation allows students to explore the infrared spectra of greenhouse gases and depict the absorption spectra. Vibrational modes and Earth's energy spectrum can also be overlaid.

  • This interactive visualization provides information in text, graphic, and video format about renewable energy technologies. Resource in the Student's Guide to Global Climate Change, part of EPA Climate Change Division.

  • This lesson explores the chemistry of some of the greenhouse gases that affect Earth's climate. Third in a series of 9 lessons from an online module entitled 'Visualizing and Understanding the Science of Climate Change'.

  • In this activity, students play the role of energy consultants to a CEO, assessing and documenting the feasibility, cost, and environmental impact of installing solar power on 4 company facilities with the same design but in different geographical lo...

  • This is a hands-on activity students design, build, and test. They compare the energy-generating capacities of vertical- and horizontal- axis wind turbine prototypes they have built as potential sources for power in a home.

  • This series of activities introduces students to the technologies of batteries and fuel cells. Activities include a mix of lectures, demonstrations, and lab activities.

  • In this activity, students calculate electricity use by state and determine, using Google Earth, how much land would be required to replace all sources of electricity with solar panels.

  • Through this lab, students are introduced to energy sciences as they explore redox reactions and how hydrogen fuel cells turn the energy released when hydrogen and oxygen are combined into electrical energy that can be read on a standard multimeter. ...

  • Students apply high school-level differential calculus and physics to the design of two-dimensional roller coasters in which the friction force is considered, as explained in the associated lesson. In a challenge the mirrors real-world engineering, t...

  • Students are introduced to renewable energy, including its relevance and importance to our current and future world. They learn the mechanics of how wind turbines convert wind energy into electrical energy and the concepts of lift and drag. Then they...

  • PowerPoint used within the session. Notes on the slides contain all links, videos and activity guides.

  • 300+ teacher developed middle school and high school challenge-based learning engineering units - created through University of Cincinnati NSF program

Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.