2. discover that biofuels are renewable energy sources made from woody plants

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1 Energy Island allows students to explore renewable and non-renewable sources of electrical power. Sources examined include biomass, fossil fuels, wind, solar, water (hydro), geothermal and nuclear. Suggested time: 45 minutes Summary of Key Learning Points Students 1. learn that there are many different sources of electricity 2. discover that biofuels are renewable energy sources made from woody plants 3. find out that geothermal energy is renewable and derives from heat deep in the Earth 4. identify hydroelectricity as being generated by falling water 5. learn that solar power is abundant but not efficient 6. discover that wind power is clean and reliable 7. explore the different kinds of fossil fuels and their advantages and disadvantages 8. identify that nuclear power uses uranium and has great potential but great disadvantages as well 1. Students learn that there are many different sources of electricity. Students should start by looking at the picture on opening screen. Which power sources can they identify? Which are renewable and which are non-renewable? There is a mining site on the left. What type of fuel might they be mining? Make sure students understand the following definitions. Resource: Something of use to humans Natural resource: A naturally-occurring substance of use to humans Man-made resource: A man-made substance of use to humans Renewable resource: A resource that is being replaced at least as fast as it is being used Non-renewable resource: A resource that is being consumed faster than it can be replaced Fossil fuel: Coal, oil or natural gas (formed over millions of years from the remains of plants and animals) IntoScience This sheet may be reproduced for classroom use Page 1/5

2 Students can create a three column table, with the headings 'energy source', 'advantages' and 'disadvantages', and fill this in as they read through the information in this activity. 2. Students discover that biofuels are renewable energy sources made from woody plants. Biomass refers to any recently living material that can be used to make fuels or other useful chemicals. In chemistry, the term 'biomass' mostly refers to woody plants. Fuels made from biomass are called biofuels. For example, most ethanol is made from petroleum, but if it is made from sugarcane it is called 'bioethanol'. Make sure that students understand it is chemically the same no matter what the source. Students read through the information and answer the questions. One negative aspect: Takes a large quantity of biomass to produce a small quantity of fuel Talking points: What advantages are offered by mixing petrol with ethanol? Are biofuels really as carbonneutral as they claim to be? 3. Students find out that geothermal energy is renewable and derives from heat deep in the Earth. Discuss the origin of geothermal energy with students. Explain that Iceland has a great deal of geothermal energy because a divergent plate boundary runs through the country. Students read the information and answer questions. One negative aspect: Not available everywhere Talking point: What are the disadvantages of having an abundance of geothermal energy? Hint - what is life like close to volcanic activity? 4. Students identify hydroelectricity as being generated by falling water. Students read the information and answer the questions. It would be helpful to discuss local uses of hydroelectricity as it is the most popular renewable energy source. What effects have there been on local ecosystems? IntoScience This sheet may be reproduced for classroom use Page 2/5

3 One negative aspect: Leads to habitat destruction Activity: Get students to research a particular scheme, such as the Snowy Mountains hydro scheme, and find out about the effect it has had on the local environment. 5. Students learn that solar power is abundant but not efficient. Explain the difference between nuclear fission and nuclear fusion to the students. Students read the information and answer questions. Only a limited amount of the sunlight that shines on the solar panels is converted to electricity, so this is not viewed as a particularly efficient power source. Efficiency is measured as the % of energy in the incident source that is converted to electricity. One negative aspect: Technology is expensive Talking point: Find out why Germany, which is not the sunniest place in the world, is the biggest user of solar power. Activity: If they are available, have students put together a solar-powered toy using a kit, so they can see the conversion of sunlight to electricity. 6. Students discover that wind power is clean and reliable. Students read about wind power and answer the questions. One negative aspect: Can cause deaths of flying animals Talking point: Is wind turbine syndrome a reality or a myth? Wind turbines produce infrasound, which is low frequency sound that can't be picked up by humans. Infrasound is believed by some to cause a variety of negative health effects for those living close to wind turbines. 7. Students explore the different kinds of fossil fuels and their advantages and disadvantages. 10 mins IntoScience This sheet may be reproduced for classroom use Page 3/5

4 Students read about the three main types of fossil fuels. The main problems of fossil fuels relate to their finite nature and contribution to global warming. Despite this, they are the major energy source in the world today. One positive aspect (oil): Readily available One negative aspect (oil): Non-renewable One positive aspect (natural gas): Burns completely One negative aspect (natural gas): Contributes to global warming One positive aspect (coal): Relatively cheap and abundant One negative aspect (coal): Produces gases that result in acid rain Talking point: What is meant by the terms 'carbon footprint' and 'carbon trading'? 8. Students identify that nuclear power uses uranium and has great potential but great disadvantages as well. Students read about nuclear energy and answer the questions. Reserves of uranium, which is nonrenewable, are slowly depleting, but are expected to last longer than our supplies of oil or gas. One positive aspect: Does not contribute to global warming One negative aspect: Produces wastes that stay radioactive for a long time and are difficult to dispose of Activity: Have students research a nuclear disaster to find out why it happened and what the short and longterm effects were. Final view answers: Nuclear: Non-renewable Oil: Non-renewable Hydroelectricity: Non-renewable Sunlight: Renewable Coal: Non-renewable IntoScience This sheet may be reproduced for classroom use Page 4/5

5 Powered by TCPDF (www.tcpdf.org) topic: Renewable & non-renewable resources Geothermal: Renewable Natural gas: Non-renewable Wind: Renewable Biofuels: Renewable  IntoScience This sheet may be reproduced for classroom use Page 5/5

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