The energy needs of the planet have been a hot topic for decades now. The UK has important decisions to make about its choices of power generation - be it nuclear, wind or investment in cutting edge technologies, such as fusion. These resources will allow students to investigate energy sources and spark debate about their use in the future.
Links and Resources
These materials help your students to debate, analyse and understand issues in contemporary science. These materials look at the topic of nuclear power and asks should we abandon it in the light of the Fukushima power plant incident?
From Teachers TV, this Inside Science video is an accessible and informative overview of nuclear fission and the economics behind building a new nuclear power.
The video poses the mock challenge; to solve the world's energy needs, why not build your very own nuclear power plant?
The video describes:
• nuclear fission
• the chain reaction in a nuclear reactor
• electricity generation in a nuclear power plant
• safety of the reactor and nuclear waste
• arguments both for and against nuclear power
• financing the building of a nuclear power plant
Use Lego to represent the building blocks of matter. Different colour and size Lego bricks are assigned to protons, neutrons and electrons. Fusion is shown by joining bricks together and fission by breaking large collections of bricks apart. Half-life is also shown by decreasing heights of Lego bricks.
This resource, produced by SEPNet and Queen Mary University of London.
• The physics behind fusion reactions that power the Sun.
• How physicists are trying to recreate fusion reactions on Earth at installations such as the JET at Culham.
• The potential for harnessing the energy produced by fusion as an alternative to fossil fuels.
Powering the Future is one of the Institute of Physics Schools and Colleges Lectures. This lecture was first delivered in 2010. It is aimed at students aged 14 to 16 but will be of interest to other ages.
• Build a small-scale wind turbine project using resistant materials (engineering drawings, jigs, fixtures and supporting images)
• Look at environmental issues (industrial case studies)
• Additional suppport and information about wind turbines, including classroom investigations
The materials in this section allow students to tackle problems in the design, making and industrial use of wind turbines. This helps them to gain a greater understanding of this important renewable energy source.
Published by the Technology Enhancement Programme (TEP)
Students work in groups to design, make, test and evaluate an appropriate heatshield to protect a square of chocolate from a heat source. This resource from The Royal Academy of Engineering and STEMNET will introduce ideas about keeping materials and tools cool whilst in space, and try to encourage the students to apply these ideas during a hands on activity. In this instance the chocolate represents the payload of important equipment and tools on the solar orbiter and the heat source represents the Sun.
This video from NASA provides students with an introduction to the electromagnetic spectrum and in particular infra-red light. This could be used as a starter to a lesson on e-m radiation or on heating and cooling.