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Great Energy Debate
http://www.need.org/files/curriculum/guides/Great%20Energy%20Debate%20Game.pdf

National Energy Education Development (NEED)

This is a debate-style learning activity in which student teams learn about energy sources and are then assigned to represent the different energy sources. Working cooperatively, students develop arguments on the pros and cons of their source over the others.

Activity takes two to three 45-minute class periods.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Energy Literacy

Humans transfer and transform energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors.
Other materials addressing:
4.1 Humans transfer and transform energy.
Different sources of energy and the different ways energy can be transformed, transported and stored each have different benefits and drawbacks.
Other materials addressing:
4.7 Different sources of energy have different benefits and drawbacks.
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Various sources of energy are used to power human activities .
Energy decisions are influenced by economic factors.
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5.4 Economic factors.
Energy decisions are influenced by social factors.
Other materials addressing:
5.7 Social Factors.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
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C) Energy.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:C) Resources
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C) Resources.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:D) Technology
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D) Technology.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:A) Identifying and investigating issues
Other materials addressing:
A) Identifying and investigating issues.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:B) Sorting out the consequences of issues
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B) Sorting out the consequences of issues.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action
Other materials addressing:
C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.2 Decision-Making and Citizenship Skills:A) Forming and evaluating personal views
Other materials addressing:
A) Forming and evaluating personal views.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Transformations and transfers of energy within a system usually result in some energy escaping into its surrounding environment. Some systems transfer less energy to their environment than others during these transformations and transfers.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • All of the items on the worksheets for each energy source are true facts - the debate is to determine if it's an advantage, disadvantage, or neither ("just a fact").
  • Ask older students to do their own research and include what information they find in the debate, rather than using the worksheets provided.
  • Have students respond individually to the four questions in Step 5 on a worksheet before leading a class discussion - this will provide the opportunity to individually assess each student.

About the Science

  • Ten major sources of energy in the United States are explored.
  • Students learn that some energy sources are nonrenewable; others are renewable; some affect the environment more than others; some provide a lot of the energy used in the U.S. while others, only a small amount; some provide energy at a low cost, while others do not.
  • Students learn that energy is used for transportation, heating, manufacturing, and making electricity.
  • Data is gathered from the Energy Information Agency http://www.eia.doe.gov. Educators may want to revisit this site before doing the activity to check if data needs updating.
  • Students learn that there are advantages and disadvantages for all energy resources.
  • No sources are provided for the data/facts used in the worksheets, so caution should be used when looking at specific quantitative facts. Potentially, students can find sources for data or research to come up with their own fact worksheets (with sources noted).
  • Comments from expert scientist: Provides a clearly written and technically accurate list of the pros and cons of 10 major energy sources.

About the Pedagogy

  • This is a complete lesson that is likely to be highly engaging for students; requires team-work and critical thinking.
  • Students are making the determination whether the given information is an advantage, a disadvantage, or a fact.
  • Easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions are provided for teacher.
  • It would be useful to create an "answer key" for the judges as to which items are advantages, disadvantages, or solely facts.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Although there is a a complex structure to the debate process, the directions are easy to follow.
  • All materials except yes/no cards are available for printing.
  • To run the game, the activity requires 3 judges - it would be best if theses are other adults in the building or parents.
  • An alternate plan is provided within the lesson to use the materials in a "non-game" setting.

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