Wind, Sun, Thermal, Water: Energy All Around Us

Wind, Sun, Thermal, Water: Energy All Around Us
Michelle Obama: Science, Medicine, Inventions and tech

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: 3-5 class periods


Both President and Mrs. Obama join many in the United States who are interested in promoting energy efficiency.  But what is energy?  How many different kinds are there? Where does energy come from?  How can we help to conserve it? The answers to these questions and more are there to be found in this lesson.


Students who participate in this lesson will explore the story of energy through research on the different kinds and sources of energy, along with acquiring an “energy” vocabulary, and learning about ways in which many different kinds of energy can be conserved.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet.  Poster Board or access to a PowerPoint program; art supplies; access to printing resources.


1. First, ask the class to define energy, writing their answers on the board.  In a second column on the board, write their answers to the question, “Name some different sources of energy.” Then, ask if anyone is doing anything specific to conserve energy at home, or in school.  These answers, too, should go on the board in a third column.

2. Divide the class into seven groups, and, using the websites listed below (each of which should be useful in finding information about all questions), ask the groups to answer the following questions: 

  • What is energy?
  • Where does energy come from?
  • How many types of energy are there?
  • How is energy measured?
  • What are the costs of energy?
  • What are some problems related to energy consumption?
  • How can we conserve energy?
3. Ask each group to make a poster about or prepare a PowerPoint presentation on their findings.
4. When the research is complete, have each group present their findings to the whole class.
5.  Ask students to keep a vocabulary list of all the new terms they’ve learned in their research.  These lists can then be combined into an “Energy Lexicon.”

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson might be extended through sharing the knowledge gained by the class with other classes, or with the whole school—perhaps by having a school-wide Energy Day.

Sources & Resources:

Geisel, Theodore (Dr. Seuss). The Lorax. Random House, 1971.
Hall, Julie and Lane, Sarah. A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids: Understanding Climate Change and What You Can Do About It. Green Goat Books, 2007.
Javna, Sophie and The Earthworks Group. The New 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2009.
VanCleave, Janice. Janice VanCleave’s Energy for Every Kid: Easy Activities That Make Learning Science Fun. Wiley, 2005.
Wells, Malcolm and Spetgang, Tilly. The Kids’ Solar Energy Book. Imagine Publishing, Inc., 2009.
Energy Star
Energy for Kids
The Energy Story
Environmental Kids Club
Kids and Energy
This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.