Air Quality Health Index classroom kit, grades 5 and 6, environment: chapter 16

B. Choose Renewable Sources

Cluster of large blue solar panels on a roof

If you want to make electrical energy, you must start with another form of energy.

Think about how electricity is generated. Imagine the power lines leaving your school extending all the way to a power generation station somewhere. You might even know where it is.

When you imagine this power generation station, does it look like a box with long stacks spitting out smoke? Or is it a field full of windmills? Perhaps it is a building connected to a dam? Or solar panels on the roof?

If you want to make electrical energy, you must start with another form of energy. You can choose renewable sources of energy or non-renewable sources of energy as your starting point. Most of the time this energy turns a wheel or turbine (mechanical energy) and generates electricity (electrical energy, or power). Sometimes the energy is captured and stored in other ways, such as solar panels that capture light energy. Scientists are always trying to develop new technologies that effciently capture, store, and convert energy.

Image of natural resources
Long description

A two section table that shows the renewable and non-renewable natural resources used to generate electricity. In the renewable section is found the instream-powered, the tidal-powered, the wind-powered, the hydro-powered, the biomass-fuelled, the geothermal-powered and the solar-powered. In the non-renewable section is found the natural gas-fueled, the oil-fueled, the coal-fueled and the nuclear-powered.

Zap It!

To generate electricity, you need:

  • A source of energy (heat, light, potential, or kinetic energy)
  • A technology to capture, store, and convert the source energy into electrical energy

Is it better to look for a new source of energy or a new technology?

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