Fuels and energy resources
At KS3, students should learn about fuels and energy resources, and this list aims to help teachers plan a series of lessons on this area of the curriculum. The list provides a range of activities, film clips, careers resources, lesson plans, background information, practical tips and suggested teaching strategies.
Links and Resources
This is a great way to introduce the whole topic of energy sources.
Rebecca describes her role: "Basically I help choose which power stations EDF should build in the future. I rely on my science and maths knowledge every day. I need to understand how coal, gas, biomass and renewable energies work, and how they affect the environment, so that I can advise EDF Energy to make the right decision."
A fantastic website for students to explore almost every aspect of fuel and energy sources, with interesting 'how it works' sections, quizes, debates, and 'bright ideas'.
You could use this as a good website for students' independent research, and its also a great place to find ideas and information to add context to lessons.
This set of cards can be used as a starter activity when thinking about electrical appliances and domestic fue bills. Looking at domestic fuel bills is a good way of illustrating how decisions on energy resources affect every one of us.
A thought provoking film which begs the question - what sources of energy will we use when fossil fuels run out and are we doing enough to prepare?
This film assumes a basic knowledge of some of the alternative sources of energy, and so could be used at the end of a lesson on different energy sources to leave the students with something to think about, or at the beginning of the topic to engage students.
“I shall make electricity so cheap that only the rich can afford to burn candles” - Thomas Edison. This statement, taken from this at-a-glance overview of UK energy production and consumption, is ideal for capturing the interest of students as they enter the classroom.
The poster could be used in conjunction with the video 'How many light bulbs', to set a research project. Students can work in groups to produce presentations arguing for or against the increased use of a chosen energy source for power generation, considering the environmental impact, costs and suitability for the UK. They should include a clear description of the current picture and an explanation of why things need to change, before leading into their proposals to 'solve the energy crisis'.
A fantastic resource created by a group of teachers in Graveney School in South London. This is a well thought out sequence of activities which will actively engage students in learning about different types of biofuels and the advantages and disadvantages of this energy source.
Younger students often find it difficult to appreciate the effects of new scientific developments on communities outside their own. This resource provides the background information needed to form such opinions
The teachers notes have a link to a You Tube video which will grab students’ attention at the beginning of the lesson.
After a Dragon’s Den style activity and a vote on which biofuel is the best option, students diamond rank the competing interests of the people the biofuel production will affect.
Finally, a great ‘racing game’ activity based on real case studies.
With such a packed lesson, knowing how fast your students are likely to work and keeping an eye on timings are essential or you could easily run out of lesson! Using a timer on the board for each activity would help maintain the pace.
This is the follow up lesson from the resource above. It's just as well thought out and a very useful resource if you haven't tried a class debate before. The format of the debate can easily be applied to other topics.
Ignore the fact that the title of this film includes recycling, as it is actually about alternative sources of energy. The first half of the film looks at the use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel for cars and a refuelling station which converts solar energy into electrical energy and water to produce the hydrogen. We often focus on different sources of energy for domestic and industrial electricity supplies and so this film provides an alternative context in which to consider energy sources. It is also useful for considering the ‘internal energy stored in materials’ and energy transfers.
For a good explanation of how a wind turbine works, fast- forward to 8 minutes and 30 seconds into the film. Students will certainly be left with a sense of wonder due to the sheer scale and ingenuity of the engineering involved in building these huge turbines. It’s also a very good clip for looking at the advantages and disadvantages of wind as an energy source and would make a good introduction to a lesson where students are comparing different energy sources and choosing the most suitable for a given situation.
SEP has developed a model wind turbine to support practical activities and to help to explain the science behind wind power, involving concepts such as energy and power, the conservation of energy and energy efficiency. Teachers should note that the concept of power is not included in the Key Stage Three curriculum.
These practical activities would follow on nicely after setting the scene with the second half of the film above (Energy and Recycling). Those teaching outside of their specialism will appreciate the overview of the topic provided at the front of the booklet.
Can the sun solve the world’s energy needs? We could produce enough electricity for the whole world using less than 1% of the area of the world’s deserts - so what’s stopping us? This film looks at how political and economical realities can either help or hinder the growth of solar energy.
The first 4 minutes are probably the most suitable for KS3 and provide a good explanation of how one type of solar power plant works.
Most students will have seen how a magnifying glass can focus light to produce a strong heating effect. The Seville power plant uses the same principle to generate electricity from solar energy. The clip makes it all look too good to be true – a clean and endless power source – so students could work in pairs to think of the possible reasons why this is not used as our main energy source at the moment.
This is a challenging card sort and would work well at the end of the topic to assess understanding. The task is to put the 16 cards into groups of 4 related cards, explaining why they are linked.
Whilst a set of answers is provided, there is never one solution to problems like this and students should feel free to justify their own answers.
This topic lends itself well to achieving a Crest Award, so why not introduce your students to the scheme? CREST Awards are not only endorsed by UCAS for use in personal statements, but they also enable students to develop skills which will help in their studies and which are valued by employers. For information on Crest Awards, have a look at the British Science Association website. There are bronze, silver and gold awards to aim for. CREST is not a competitive scheme, if your students meet the criteria, they will receive an award.
This project looks at the issues around providing sustainable energy in poor communities. It encourages students to investigate energy sources such as wind power, solar power, biofuels and fossil fuels. Students also look at how energy can be stored and distributed.