The Power of Electricity

Even though your students use electricity every day and would not want to be without it for a single day, they probably haven’t yet given much thought to its importance as an energy source. According to the National Standards for Science Education, middle schoolers should be building on their K-4 experiences with electricity and becoming familiar with the idea that most change involves energy transfer. The following resources will answer such questions as what is electricity, where does it come from, and how is it distributed?

Electricity
This reading, part of a series about the future of energy, introduces students to the need for and uses of electricity. Here students find information on the generation of electrical power and the infrastructure needed to transmit and distribute it. Thought-provoking questions afford students chances to reflect on what they’ve read. Web links to energy-related articles from PBS NewsHour Online are provided, along with a link to information on the benefits of small-scale wind projects.

Electrical Generation
This reading, another part of a series about the future of energy, introduces students to the production of electricity using a generator. Students read about the movement of electrons called current electricity. Static electricity is also discussed. Students follow as the generation of electric current is described using magnets in a generator.

How Do You Get Electricity From a Cow?
Students are given a clue before they select their answer to this riddle. In the text and video clip for the clue, two children tell about their unsuccessful attempt to use a pet cow to spin the metal coil in a generator. Students are given three answer choices. Brief feedback is given for the incorrect choices. When students select the correct answer, they can watch a short video clip of a farmer explaining how his farm generates more power than it needs by making use of the methane gas released from decomposing manure.

We Need Your Help

We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. You can also request email notification when new content is posted (see right navigation bar).

Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We want your feedback on all of the NSDL Middle School Portal publications. Email us at msp@msteacher.org.

Swimming Pool Chemistry

Summer’s here and that means it’s time to head for that clear, cool, and refreshing pool! Did you know that children swallow at least 37 mL of pool water each day they swim for 45 minutes or more? Do you know how many microbes can fit into just 1 mL of water? A lot!

Here are a few resources to acquaint your students with some of the microbes we aim to kill with chlorine as well as the properties of chlorine. Several factors, such as pH and temperature, affect its activity. Due to its noxious quality, hands-on activities with chlorine are not possible. However, you and your students might want to model and simulate the chemical activity of chlorine. Or, you and your students could create case studies in small groups to trade and analyze using their new knowledge.

CDC: Healthy Swimming
The What? Where? Why? How? and Who? of recreational water illnesses (RWI).

Internet Scout Report for Physical Science: Chlorine
A list of several related web sites. We suggest Chlorine Chemistry, which presents 10 chlorine chemistry questions. Answers do not appear on the same screen, giving students a chance to think about them. The Question of the Day links to How Does Chlorine Bleach Work?. Scroll down and click on How Does Chorine Work to Clean Swimming Pools?

Chlorine
This engagingly written, one-page article provides a brief history of humans’ use of chlorine and highlights some common, useful compounds of chlorine, expanding student conceptions beyond pool water disinfectants. This article is from Chemical & Engineering News accessed through the American Chemical Society.

We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 4/09/2012.

Energy Sources

Running on empty? Not yet, but national energy decisions may be a bigger issue in our students’ lifetimes. A number of groups have created appealing web sites to teach young people about sources of energy as well as the environmental and economic pros and cons of relying on them.

Explore More: The Future of EnergyNSDL Annotation
The energy segment from Iowa Public Television’s multimedia Explore More project is a comprehensive examination of the topic, giving profiles of eight energy sources, experts’ viewpoints, many teaching tools, and opportunities for students to express their opinions.

Energy in-Depth: TimelineNSDL Annotation
From the Explore More web site, this timeline highlights important events in the formation, discovery, and uses of each energy source—from 4,300,000 B.C.E. to the 21st century.

Energy StoryNSDL Annotation
A feature of the California Energy Commission’s Energy Quest, this site offers 20 chapters of information about energy sources, from fossils to wind currents. The site also provides science projects, games, and links to dozens of online resources.

What Is Energy?NSDL Annotation
The Kid’s Page from the federal Energy Information Administration web site offers information on renewable and nonrenewable energy, puzzles (including sudoku), science fair projects, and more for teachers and students.

We Need Your Help

We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. You can also request email notification when new content is posted (see right navigation bar).

Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We want your feedback on all of the NSDL Middle School PortalNSDL Annotation publications. Email us at msp@msteacher.org.