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Energy: A Multidisciplinary Approach for Teachers (EMAT)

Energy: A Multidisciplinary Approach for Teachers (EMAT) is an online course for high school science teachers. We developed it for teachers, but it’s chock full of resources that teachers might use with high school students.

Energy ideas are fundamental to all areas of science. Our goal is to help teachers learn more about energy ideas and, in turn, help their students understand energy, too. When our kids understand key energy concepts, they will be better prepared to actively participate as citizens in making energy decisions as part of our rapidly changing economy.

BSCS developed the EMAT course in collaboration with Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), the National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN) of Montana State University, the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC).

Register with the Rise learning management system (it’s free) and then choose EMAT from the course catalog.

There are six units in the EMAT course:

  • Coal
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Wind
  • Geothermal Energy
  • Biofuels
  • Solar Energy

Each unit helps teachers learn key energy concepts and think about how to help students learn key energy concepts. As part of the course, there are a variety of materials to help both students and teachers:

  1. Animations—short animated videos that showcase important science and energy concepts
  2. Interactive Learning Experiences—interactive and fun opportunities to explore scientific ideas related to energy
  3. Classroom Videos—see how other teachers have engaged their students in teaching complex ideas related to energy

Sun to Cheese

In this video, Ryan Morra,  Professional Learning Coordinator at Shelburne Farms in Vermont traces the energy and processes involved in making cheese all the way back to the Sun as an energy source.  By applying the idea of energy transfer to the real-life scenario of how cheese is made, teachers can then choose to actually make cheese with their students in the classroom. (3:11 minutes)

Girls of Energy: DOE

Girls of Energy is designed to ignite curiosity and engage young minds across the globe, and we are thrilled to bring it to you. It showcases exceptional women who are conquering today’s energy challenges and creating tomorrow’s technology solutions. Comprised of lesson plans, activities, and an engaging website, Girls of Energy highlights the importance of energy and how it improves the lives of our friends, neighbors, and family members. Exploring the cutting-edge energy research and technology being developed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Laboratories, Girls of Energy allows young women to see just how amazing a STEM career can be.

Facilitating Discussion: The Art of Focused Conversation

In this video, learn how to slow down conversations and elicit deeper thinking and listening in small group discussion using a protocol designed for more focused conversations.  This protocol is ideal for exploring a topic and giving voice to each person in the group in a step-by-step process that allows for more reflective listening and thinking.

Teaching Channel

Teaching Channel is a thriving online community where teachers can watch, share, and learn diverse techniques to help every student grow.

“So great to see good instructions live with kids. There are lots of resources linked with each lesson on the site.”

In terms of content related to energy, see these highlighted resources:

  • Energy Across the Disciplines: Students design Rube Goldberg machines to study energy transfers and energy transformations. The teacher uses the machines to help students make connections between flow of energy in ecosystems of life science with that of physical energy to then discuss conservation of energy and how that is reflected across different disciplines of science.
  • Potential Energy: Problem Solving Skills: A lesson introducing middle school students to the idea of potential energy. Students work through text with background information on potential energy before working with simulations calculating the amount of potential energy in different scenarios in small groups to further their understanding.
  • Exploring Real World Energy Transformations: Lesson with stations and identifying energy transformations and transfers using real world examples students are familiar with
  • STEM Activity: Heat Loss: In this fun activity, students build a house and then measure the amount of heat loss within the structure.  After making adjustments in “insulation”, students measure the amount of heat loss again, prompting further discussion on home energy efficiency


Beetles Project: Science and Teaching for Field Instructors

BEETLES  stands for “Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning & Expertise Sharing” and is based at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California at Berkeley.  The site focuses on experiential learning approaches, primarily for field instructors and outdoor education, but also for classroom educators as well. You’ll find lessons and associated video segments that demonstrate the lessons that center. The lessons are centered around beetles as a science topic for discovery.  Also note the great questioning strategies the facilitators use to foster deeper discussion.

NREL Energy Education Resources for Teachers

NREL(National Renewable Energy Lab) provides a variety of educational resources to help students, teachers, and parents educate their kids about renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, including hands-on projects and curriculum suggestions for elementary school, middle school, and high school students as well as teachers.

The Physics Front

Physics Front has reviewed and catalogued quality resources for K-12 teaching.  This collection focuses on resources, lesson plans, activities, and websites in support of teaching concepts related to energy and other topics in physics.