Instructional Sequence

The instructional sequence is a recommended instructional sequence. This sequence has been field-tested in 8th grade urban classrooms in three different tracked levels. We recognize that the ability levels of students will range significantly across different locations and some classrooms may complete activities faster or slower than what we have listed as the recommended time frame. We recognize that different teachers may feel the need to provide summative assessment quizzes or additional review activities at specific points during the instructional sequence. Such activities will vary across different teachers and classroom contexts. While we have not included such materials in the instructional sequence, we have provided a sample of such materials used by teachers during the field testing of the Energy unit in the Teacher Resources section.

We have not recommended specific homework assignments for each day in the instructional sequence. We recognize that the assignment of homework will vary significantly across each classroom based on the philosophy of teachers and school districts. We have noted suggested supplemental readings on specific days that can be assigned for homework. These are PDF documents that can be accessed by students on the Energy Unit Student Resource page or reproduced and distributed as hard copies. The completion of student worksheets may also be assigned as homework. We also encourage teachers to assign journaling activities and additional concept mapping activities as homework to help students review the main unit concepts.

Student instructional handouts and teacher support materials are provided in both MS Word and PDF formats. Student handouts can be modified to provide additional supports and step-by-step instructions by adding text passages from the teacher versions of select handouts.

Click on the links below to access a detailed instructional sequence for each day that includes student resources (My World GIS files, Google Earth files, videos, and images), instructional handouts, and teacher educative curriculum materials.

Although this site is designed to be cross-platform, please use the Mozilla Firefox Web browser because the GIS files do not download properly via the Internet Explorer or Safari Web browsers. We also recommend that you back-up GIS and Google Earth files on a USB drive in the event that you have network or Internet problems.

Download the entire instructional sequence document (PDF)

Day 1 - Pretests. Introduction to Energy Unit. Students will complete the energy content knowledge and attitude and behavior pretest assessments.

Day 2 - Personal Energy Audit. Students will calculate their personal and household energy consumption on an Energy Audit spreadsheet and analyze their energy consumption patterns. Students will understand that they use energy for many purposes including: lighting, heating, transportation, entertainment, food preparation, cleaning, and communications. Students will describe ways they can reduce both their personal energy use and their household energy use.

Day 3 - Understanding Electricity. Students will be introduced to different energy terms and conversion factors (joules, watts, kilowatts, kilowatt/hours, and BTUs).

Day 4 - Energy Concept Map. Students will be introduced to sources of energy (sun, moon, and earth) using a graphical representation. Students will then be introduced to potential and kinetic forms of energy.

Day 5 - Investigating Solar Energy. Students will be introduced to solar energy. Students will understand that most of the energy we use originally came from the sun. Students will observe the transfer of solar energy to different appliances with a solar cell and investigate the effect of using different solar sources to supply energy to appliances.

Day 6 - Exploring Solar Power Plants with Google Earth. Students will use Google Earth to view solar power plants around the world. Students will take a Google Earth tour of 5 large solar power plant. Students will use the Google Earth measurement tool to determine perimeters of each solar plant.

Day 7 - Where is the Best Place to Locate a New Solar Power Plant? Students will learn the basic tool features of My World GIS including: Construct View, Data Library, Layer List, Visualize View, Cursor Location, Zoom In Tool, Zoom Out Tool, Get Information Tool, Move Map Tool, and Zoom To All. Students will use My World GIS to analyze annual average sunshine data to determine good locations for solar plants.

Day 8 - Where is the Best Place to Locate a New Solar Power Plant? Students will continue to use My World GIS to analyze annual average sunshine data to determine good locations for solar plants. Students will investigate sunshine patterns at locations of existing and proposed solar power plants. Students will analyze "newly planned" solar power plant locations in 2009 and will determine optimal locations to build new very large solar power plants.

Day 9 - About Wind Energy. Students will be introduced to wind energy and a wind power classification system. Students will learn how electricity generated from wind turbines is transported to the electrical grid, and then to a substation and to their homes for use.

Day 10 - Exploring Wind Farms with Google Earth. Students will use Google Earth to investigate ideal features of wind farms. Students will take a Google Earth tour of 5 large wind farms around the world. Students will use the Google Earth measurement tool to determine the estimated perimeter of each wind farm.

Day 11 - Where is the Best Place to Locate a New Wind Farm? Students will use My World GIS to examine wind speed and land use patterns in Pennsylvania to determine the best place to locate a new wind farm in the Lehigh Valley and in Pennsylvania.

Day 12 - Exploring Water Bodies with Google Earth. Students will be introduced to tide formation and tidal energy. Students will use Google Earth to analyze the shapes of four water bodies to determine if these would be good places to locate a tidal power plant.

Day 13 - About Hydroelectric Energy. Students will be introduced to hydroelectric energy. Students will learn how the depth and width of a "reservoir" affects the potential energy of water to do work.

Day 14 - Exploring Hydroelectric Dams with Google Earth. Students will use Google Earth to examine diverse dams in the world and infer why dams are placed near population centers. Students will use the measurement tool to measure dam widths and the distances from each dam to nearby population centers.

Day 15 - Investigating Hydroelectric Dams with My World GIS. Students will use My World GIS to examine and query features of hydroelectric dams in the United States. Students will examine a shape file of 1,184 hydroelectric dams and analyze dams by height of dam, year of completion, river name, state name, watershed, reservoir volume, and capacity.

Day 16 - Investigating Hydroelectric Dams with My World GIS. Students will examine the 10 most powerful USA dams. Students will then create and analyze a layer of all Pennsylvania dams. Students will query Pennsylvania dams by height of dam, year of completion, river name, state name, watershed, reservoir volume, and capacity.

Day 17 - Exploring Pennsylvania Energy on the River with Google Earth. Students will use Google Earth to view energy-generating facilities on the Allegheny and Susquehanna Rivers. Students will take a Google Earth tour of 5 major hydroelectric facilities in Pennsylvania: Allegheny River (Seneca Pumped Storage Generating Station and Kinzua Dam) and Susquehanna River (Holtwood Dam, Safe Harbor Dam, and York Haven). Students will then explore the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant.

Day 18 - About Nuclear Energy. Students will learn how nuclear power is generated and how nuclear chain reactions occur.

Day 19 - Where is the Best Place to Locate a Geothermal Power Plant? Students will be introduced to geothermal energy. Using Google Earth, they will explore features of “hot Earth” areas in Iceland and in the United States. They will determine the best place to locate a geothermal power plant in the Northwest United States.

Day 20 - Exploring Biofuels. Students will be introduced to biofuels and biomass and understand why it is a renewable energy source. They will explore uses of both historic biofuels (wood, whale oil) and current biofuels (biodiesel, ethanol and cellulose). Students will learn about current ethanol production issues (for example, using corn vs. switch grass as a biofuel).

Day 21 - Biofuels: Cellulose Lab. Students will investigate how to optimally prepare a biofuel source for conversion to a combustible product. In a lab activity, students will break down cellulose from paper pulp to release the sugar component. The "releasing variable" will be tested. These include: water, cellulase, and rubbing alcohol. This activity models how the raw materials are refined to process liquid fuels.

Day 22 - Exploring Energy Production and Consumption. Students will compare and contrast regional energy production of 5 different US regions (California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington). Students will also analyze production and consumption data of US energy sources data for both renewable and nonrenewable energy sources.

Day 23 - Exploring Energy Production and Consumption. Students will analyze energy consumption data across the industrial, transportation, commercial, and residential sectors. Students will analyze electricity distribution data to understand that the current US grid for electricity distribution is not efficient.

Day 24 - About Fossil Fuels. Students will be introduced to fossil fuels. Students will learn how fossil fuels originate, how long they take to form, how they are transported from their sources, and how they are altered for energy use. Students will understand that fossil fuels are nonrenewable and are altered for energy use.

Day 25 - Investigating Coal Production and Consumption with My World GIS. Students will use My World GIS to investigate where coal reserves are located in the USA. Students will use My World GIS to investigate coal production and consumption for different countries. Students will examine how coal consumption and production have changed over a 28-year period, 1980 - 2008, both worldwide and in the US. They will also analyze relationships between coal consumption and country populations.

Day 26 - Investigating Natural Gas Production and Consumption with My World GIS. Students will use My World GIS to investigate countries with natural gas reserves. Students will use My World GIS to investigate natural gas production and consumption for different countries. Students will examine how natural gas consumption and production have changed over a 28-year period, 1980 - 2008, both worldwide and in the US. They will also analyze relationships among countries’ natural gas consumption and their populations.

Day 27 - Investigating Oil Production and Consumption with My World GIS. Students will use My World GIS to investigate countries with petroleum (crude oil) reserves. Students will use My World GIS to analyze petroleum (crude oil) production and consumption for different countries. Students will examine how petroleum (crude oil) consumption and production have changed over a 28-year period, 1980 - 2008, both worldwide and in the US. They will also analyze relationships among countries’ petroleum (crude oil) consumption and their populations.

Day 28 - Personal Energy Audit: Energy Sources. Students will investigate different ways that energy can be conserved. They will revisit their energy audit. For each activity in the audit, students will list the main energy use and the main source(s) of the energy for that activity. (for example, turn on light switch -> electricity -> coal; trip to mall -> gas for transportation -> oil; shower -> heating water -> electricity or oil). Students will identify connections among energy use types and energy fuel sources.

Day 29 - Personal Energy Audit: Energy Conservation. Students will recalculate their personal and household energy audits based on current use practices and compare it to their initial audit. Student will recalculate their energy audit and identify additional energy conservation practices they could implement. Students will reflect on new energy consumption practices and provide reasons for their behavioral changes.

Day 30 - Personal Energy Audit: Energy Conservation. Students will justify their conservation practice changes on their energy audit spreadsheets. Students will look at their energy audit and generate a list of ways they can conserve energy.

Day 31 - Energy Efficiency Lab. Students will investigate concepts about energy efficiency and heat output by measuring the heat emitted from different light bulbs.

Day 32 - Impacts of Energy Sources. Students will explore the advantages and disadvantages of the following energy sources - solar, wind, hydroelectric power, nuclear, geothermal, tidal, biomass, coal, oil, and natural gas.

Day 33 - Impacts of Energy Sources. Students will explore and analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the following energy sources - solar, wind, hydroelectric power, nuclear, geothermal, tidal, biomass, coal, oil, and natural gas.

Day 34 - Energy Resources for the Isle of Navitas. Students will explore energy resources for one of three provinces on the Isle of Navitas. They will analyze the benefits, costs, and environmental impacts of each energy source. Students will analyze energy resources for the island and develop an energy policy statement. The policy will recommend an efficient combination of energy sources to provide sufficient power to the province while minimizing environment impacts. Students will apply and use GIS tools and knowledge from past activities to make decisions for the placement of power plants in their province.

Day 35 - Energy Resources for the Isle of Navitas. Students will explore energy resources for one of three provinces on the Isle of Navitas. They will analyze the benefits, costs, and environmental impacts of each energy source. Students will analyze energy resources for the island and develop an energy policy statement. The policy will recommend an efficient combination of energy sources to provide sufficient power to the province while minimizing environment impacts. Students will apply and use GIS tools and knowledge from past activities to make decisions for the placement of power plants in their province.

Day 36 - Energy Policy for the Isle of Navitas. Students will write an energy policy statement for their province that is based on the energy needs of their province, available energy sources, and infrastructure for production and distribution. The energy policy should maximize the use of renewable energy sources and minimize environmental impact. Students must justify their combination of energy sources based on benefits, costs, and impact assessments.

Day 37 - Energy Policy for the Isle of Navitas. Students will write an energy policy statement for their province that is based on the energy needs of their province, available energy sources, and infrastructure for production and distribution. The energy policy should maximize the use of renewable energy sources and minimize environmental impact. Students must justify their combination of energy sources based on benefits, costs, and impact assessments.

Day 38 - Energy Policy for the Isle of Navitas Presentations. Students will present their energy policy for the island. Students will describe how their proposed combination of energy sources is efficient and has minimal environmental impact.

Day 39 - Unit Review. Students will review the whole unit. Students will revisit their concept maps and revise it as well as add what they have learned.

Day 40 - Posttests. Students will take energy content knowledge and attitude and behavior posttests.