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High School Energy Experiments

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) affect nearly every aspect of our lives — from
the cars we drive, to the food we eat, to the smartphones we use to communicate. Innovation is the key to helping the U.S. stay competitive in today’s globalized, technology-driven world.

The information and activities in this booklet will help you understand the critical role STEM plays in the
energy industry. Have fun exploring the world of energy, and we hope you learn some interesting new
things along the way.

Sun Powered Cars

Solar Powered Cars are a fun engineering design challenge that provide plenty of room for academic conversations. The reality of solar panels is they aren’t perfect by any means. They require a level of precision in their positioning to the sun that producing a successful device is a challenge! Therein lies the opportunity for exploration, inquiry and iteration as both students and teachers alike can grow academically with the creation of a solar-powered car.

This resource from Discovery Place Science shows you two prototypes designed to serve as an exploration of what the introduction of a 3D printer and some simple design software can produce as well as an how this project can be completed using more common classroom materials such as popsicle sticks and hot glue

Designing and Testing Turbines

Creating turbines can be a fun way to explore the relationship of naturally occurring energy sources like wind. Using everyday materials students can create a variety of turbines that can be tested with LED’s and voltmeters to determine their effectiveness and start meaningful conversations around design improvements, energy conservation and a sustainable energy plan for the United States.

This resource from Discovery Place Science shows you how to build and test turbines with materials for the classroom, including 3-D plans for gear systems for your turbines.

Energy Tree Diagram: How It Works

Energy Tree Diagram: What do wind-up toys, springs, and pop-ups have in common?  Energy! In this video, we’ll take a closer look at these toys to examine what types of energy transfers happen that cause these everyday object to spin, move, and pop.  This is a great way to learn about types of energy in a fun and engaging approach by mapping out the kinds of energy present through a process of drawing out the types of energy in an energy tree diagram.   

  • Presented by: Rob Payo, Denver Museum of Nature & Science and Ann Hernandez,  Association of Science Technology Centers

Supply list:

  • Wind up toys
  • Pop ups
  • Other simple toys, machines
  • Poster paper
  • Markers

Argumentation Toolkit: How It Works

Argumentation Toolkit:    How do you get kids to think and discuss ideas critically on their own?  The Argumentation Toolkit, developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science provides easy yet powerful ways to help students verbalize their thinking.  This video steps you through a simple exercise where students are faced with pieces of evidence and whether they support a claim. These evidence statements are written on cards that students can move around, discuss and argue with one another in a more active, concrete way of supporting their ideas. When it comes to understanding energy and energy related issues, this is a great way to foster productive and meaningful discussion in the classroom.   Funding support for Argumentation Toolkit made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

  • Presented by Tim Blesse, Denver Museum of Nature & Science


  • Index cards or cardstock (these can be laminated)

Argumentation Toolkit

The Argumentation Toolkit is a collection of resources designed to help teachers understand and teach scientific argumentation.  The resources featured can be adapted to any science content, including topics in energy.   The Argumentation Toolkit was developed as part of a research and development project in which we are designing videos and other multimedia tools to support middle school teachers in integrating argumentation into their classroom across reading, writing and talking. This project, Constructing and Critiquing Arguments in Middle School Science Classrooms, is a collaboration between the Lawrence Hall of Science and Boston College, and is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (DRL-1119584). 

Fizzics Education: Electricity Experiments

This is a collection of experiments and demonstrations from Fizzics Education related to electricity using things you can find at home.

Fizzics Education provides outreach education in Australia. They’re online collection of activities, demonstrations and videos help students understand science at home or other informal environments.

PlayDecide Game: Energy and Sustainability

PlayDecide is a discussion game to talk in a simple and effective way about controversial issues. Setting up a session of PlayDecide is very easy. It’s a conversation game that requires a small group of people (4 to 8, although it works best with 5-6 people) around a table.

This PlayDecide game focuses on energy and sustainability.  Through discussion of issues and different perspectives, players must determine a way to reduce emissions via multiple strategies such as technology, changing behaviors, legislative laws and regulations, etc.

Activity: Electric Scribbles

Children explore the intersection of science and art by inventing a machine that can draw as it moves. This activity helps children develop divergent thinking skills.

This activity and more can be found online at Creativity Catapult, from the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, CA.,  is a research-backed, expert-curated collection of activities that promote creativity skills in children ages 2-14. Creativity Catapult is an online collection of activities to promote children’s creativity development. Curated by experts with contributions from esteemed education institutions from around the globe, Creativity Catapult is intended for practitioners charged with raising a generation of future innovators – parents, teachers and informal educators – as well as kids themselves.

Feasting On Fuel: Renewables On America’s Farms

By some estimates, producing our food consumes about a fifth of the nation’s energy supply. It takes a lot of diesel to move tractors and semis around the farm, and electricity to pump water and dry grain. But some farmers are trying to cut back on the coal and gas they use and make our food system more energy efficient.

In this podcast from Inside Energy, learn about how farms are using renewable energy as a way of keeping costs down and utilizing creative solutions for greater sustainability.