New Energy Academies: 10th Grade Outline


The following outline was designed with two goals. The first goal is to enable our students to gain NCCER certifications in the following areas: Core, Your Role in the Green Environment, and Introduction to the Power Industry in the tenth grade; followed by Introduction to Electrical Circuits, Electrical Theory, Instrumentation, Photovoltaics, Wind Energy, and possibly other modules in subsequent years. The second goal is to provide an introduction to the key skills and knowledge required for success in the utilities/energy sector.

The outline runs through various topics thematically. It begins with an introduction to energy, followed by how energy is used, basic electricity concepts, a survey of major energy sources, an overview of climate change, and energy policy. Major projects enable students to master the performance skills required for NCCER certification in the areas described above.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to Energy
  2. Overview of Energy Sources
  3. How We Consume Energy
  4. Introduction to Safety
  5. Basic Electricity
  6. Coal
  7. Natural Gas
  8. Petroleum
  9. Nuclear
  10. Solar
  11. Wind
  12. Geothermal/Heat Pumps
  13. Hydroelectric
  14. Ocean/Wave/Tides
  15. Biomass/Biofuels
  16. Cogeneration
  17. Hydrogen and Fuel Cells
  18. Climate change
  19. Energy Policy
  20. Year Long Themes/Content
  21. Energy Jobs
  22. Additional Resources

Course Outline

Time (weeks)


  1. Outcomes

Sample Activities/ Projects/ Labs


NCCER Module or Submodule


Introduction to Energy


  1. Define key terms: potential, kinetic, etc.
  2. Explain energy forms (gravitational, chemical, electromagnetic, etc.)
  3. Explain energy units: joules, calories, watts.
  4. Explain energy transformations and efficiency.
  5. State laws of thermodynamics (simply)
  1. Calorimetry Lab ()
  2. NEED Secondary Science of Energy kit

ATTEI Activities

  1. How is water flowing
  2. Basketball Activity
  3. Get your motor running- Kinetic and Potential Energy
  4. Potential Energy-Isaac Newton
  5. Types of Energy

Building a beer can steam engine (Bruce)

Rube Goldberg machine

  1. NEED Secondary Infobook
  1. NEED Secondary Science of Energy Guide
  2. Intro to Energy pdf-ATTEI Unit 1
  3. NCCER Your Role in the Green Environment
  4. You Tube Video: the BEST Rube Goldberg machine!: OK Go: This Too Shall Pass

Safety: Importance, accident avoidance, job site hazards, worksite, housekeeping, fire extinguisher use.

Handtools: Measurement


Overview of Energy Sources


  1. Describe major sources of energy
  2. Describe energy use at state, national, world levels (pie chart)
  1. NEED Energy Enigma (game)
  2. NEED Great Energy Debate
  3. NEED Electrical Connections
  1. NEED Secondary Energy Infobooks
  2. Insert NEED Energy Infobook Activites
  3. PG&E Electric Distribution Animation
  4. General Info-multiple sources of energy

Introduction to the Power Industry


How We Consume Energy


  1. Perform energy audits for his/her home/school.
  2. Interpret utility bills.
  3. Explain the importance of energy efficiency.
  4. Connect energy usage to carbon footprint.
  1. NEED Plug Loads
  2. NEED Learning and Conserving (includes Kill-a-watt activity)
  3. NEED School Energy Survey
  4. NEED Energy Management Guide
  5. NEED Blueprint for School Energy Teams
  1. NEED Secondary Infobook, p. 66 - 76
  2. “More Profit with Less Carbon,” Amory Lovins, 10/05
  3. NCCER Your Role in Green, Unit 1.0
  4. Vital signs
  5. It’s the Architecture, Stupid!

Safety: Electrical Hazards , ladders, PPE.

Drawings: Read/interpret school/home floor plan, draw floor plan, measurement/scaling, ladder




  1. Explain basic safety concepts
  2. Demonstrate proper safety procedures in appropriate scenarios
  1. Jigsaw (read safety unit)
  2. Safety skits
  3. safety slideshow
  4. Speaker from PG& E/ other organizations
  5. OSHA 10 card certification (optional)

NCCER Basic Safety


  1. Importance/accident avoidance
  2. PPE (goggles, gloves, etc.)
  3. Safe lifting
  4. Ladders
  5. Employer/employee responsibilities
  6. Job site hazards
  7. Job safety analysis


Basic Electricity


  1. Define volt, amp, watt
  2. Construct series and parallel circuits
  3. Contrast conductors and insulators.
  4. Explain the workings of motors and generators in term electromagnetic induction.
  5. Explain the difference between AC and DC.
  6. * Capacitor, resistor, transformer
  7. * Electro-magnetic fields
  1. Experiment with wires, magnets
  2. Build a telegraph
  3. Build speakers and microphones
  4. Build a motor
  5. Experiment with the Genecon generator
  6. Homopolar motor
  7. Flying Tinsel (Bruce)
  8. Electric catapult (Bruce)
  9. Shock-a-lot (Bruce)
  10. Capacitor demo: charge (muscle energy) and discharge on diet 7-up can--your students will never trust you again! (Bruce)
  11. Blow up 10uF capacitor with 120VAC (Bruce)
  12. eCar (Bruce)
  13. Electrochemistry: copper plating a coin (Bruce)
  14. Electrochemistry: demo: a tomato clock (Bruce)
  1. It’s About Time, Integrated Coordinated Science, Activities 3, 4, 5; motors and generator’s lab (email Glenn for .pdf)
  2. NEED Secondary Infobooks, p. 56 - 65

Safety: Electrical Hazards.

Hand Tools: Pliers, screwdriver, hammer, saw.

Power Tools: Drill.

Drawings: Build project following plans, creating drawings.

Electrical Circuits: voltage, conductors and insulators, series v. parallel circuits.


Energy production: Coal

TSW (for all energy sources):

  1. Describe basic terms associated w/ this energy source.
  2. Explain the % of energy contribution on local, state, national and global levels.
  3. Explain pros & cons; future outlook
  4. Explain how this type of energy is obtained, utilized, stored, transported, etc.
  1. Observing coal (comparing anthracite, bituminous, lignite)
  2. Make charcoal (Bruce)
  1. NEED Secondary Infobook, p. 16

Introduction to the Power Industry


Energy Production: Natural Gas, Propane


(see coal for outcomes)

  1. Acetylene cannon demonstration (Bruce)
  1. NEED Secondary Infobook, p. 24, 36
  2. PG&E Gas Distribution Animation

Introduction to the Power Industry


Energy Production: Petroleum


  1. (see coal for outcomes)
  1. Describe other uses in addition to energy.
  1. NEED Fossil Fuels to Products Kit
  2. ATTEI Energy and Cars Activity
  1. Demonstration: surface-to-volume effect on combustion of fuel (climax: spitting ethahol fireball) (Bruce)
  1. NEED Secondary Infobooks
  2. NEED Secondary Infobooks
  3. ATTEI Unit 6 Alternate Fuels pdf
  4. Amazing comparison of power in dynamite vs gasoline, and nuclear explosions

Introduction to the Power Industry


Energy production: Nuclear


  1. (see coal for outcomes), plus
  1. Explain nuclear fission
  2. Explain issues related to nuclear wastes
  3. Explain uses outside of energy production.
  1. Nuclear Energy Debate mousetraps with ping pong balls: chain reaction demo (Bruce)
  1. 100 penny half life activity (DaveW)
  1. NEED Secondary Infobooks
  2. NEED Energy from Uranium
  3. NEED Exploring Nuclear Energy
  4. Scientific American, 9/06,
  5. Scientific American, 12/05,
  6. FordPAS Nuclear Activities
  7. Interactive nuclear power plant demo

Introduction to the Power Industry

Drawing: schematic diagram of a nuclear power plant.


Energy Production: Solar


  1. (see coal for outcomes), plus
  1. Explain nuclear fusion
  2. Explain that solar energy is the source of most other sources of energy.
  3. Distinguish between solar thermal, photovoltaic, active solar, passive solar, etc.
  1. NEED Solar Photovoltaic Kit
  2. Kidwind Solar Thermal Kit
  3. Solar Car competition
  4. Build a solar oven
  5. Solar home project
  1. NEED Secondary Infobooks, p. 40
  2. NEED Schools Going Solar
  3. NCCER Solar Photovoltaics
  4. Plan for solar oven:

Simple Solar oven design

  1. Wood solar oven
  2. Soda can Sterling Engine
  3. Coke Can Sterling Engine

Solar Oven (use wood)


Hand Tools: hammer, screwdriver,saw, pliers, spirit level, carpenter’s square, tape measure.

Power Tools: circular saw, power drill, sander.

Electrical Circuits: voltage, amps, watts, conductors and insulators, series v. parallel circuits.

Introduction to Test Instruments: multimeters

Introduction to the Power Industry


Energy Production: Wind


  1. (see coal for outcomes), plus
  1. Explain what makes the wind blow.
  1. NEED Exploring Wind Energy Kit
  2. KidWind Kits
  3. Windmill Siting Activity
  1. NEED Secondary Infobooks, p.48
  2. Wind Energy Resource Atlas
  3. Sandia Labs

Electrical Circuits: voltage, amps, watts, conductors and insulators, series v. parallel circuits.

Introduction to Test Instruments: multimeters

Hand Tools: (see solar)

Introduction to the Power Industry


Energy Production: Geothermal/ Heat Pumps


  1. (see coal for outcomes), plus
  1. Explain the source of geothermal energy.
  1. Ring of Fire Mapping Activity-Graphing Volcanoes
  2. Convection Currents Lab (Glenn)
  3. Plate Tectonics Activities
  1. “Clean Energy from Filthy Water,” Jane Braxton, Scientific American, 7/10
  2. NEED Secondary Infobooks, p. 20
  3. How Geothermal Works:
  5. Sandia National Labs
  7. Iceland:
  8. General Info
  9. Geothermal PPT
  10. Geothermal Energy Facts

Intro to Power Industry


Energy Production: Hydroelectric


  1. (see coal for outcomes), plus
  1. Explain the water cycle and its relation to solar energy.
  2. Distinguish between renewable and non-renewable hydropower.
  1. NEED Exploring Hydroelectricity Kit
  2. Debate: tear down dams on the Columbia?
  1. NEED Secondary Infobook, p.24

Introduction to the Power Industry


Energy Production: Oceans/Waves/Tides


  1. (see coal for outcomes)
  1. MMS Ocean Energy Guide
  2. Severin Bore debate
  1. PGE
  2. General Info


Energy Production: Biomass, Biofuels


  1. (see coal for outcomes) plus
  1. Explain “net-zero” carbon.
  1. NEED 4-H Chemical Energy Kit
  1. Match Rockets (Bruce)
  2. Biodiesel from Vegetable oil
  1. ATTEI Unit 6 Alternate Fuels pdf

Introduction to the Power Industry


Energy Production: Cogeneration


  1. (see coal for outcomes) plus
  1. Explain cogeneration.


Hydrogen/Fuel Cells


  1. Explain how H2 is generated, and how it is an energy carrier, and not an energy source.
  2. Explain the workings of a fuel cell.
  3. Define “hydrogen economy,”
  4. Explain the promise and problems of the “hydrogen economy.”
  1. NEED H2 Educate Kit
  2. HyTEC curriculum,
  1. Use electricity to electrolyze water
  2. Use hydrogen to power a fuel cell
  3. Hydrogen Bus simulation activity
  4. ATTEI Hydrogen Survey
  1. NEED Secondary Infobooks, p. 54
  2. NEED Biodiesel Guide
  3. NEED Ethanol Guide
  4. Scientific American, 9/06,
  5. Scientific American, 4/07,


Climate Change


  1. Explain the greenhouse effect.
  2. Explain which gasses are greenhouse gasses.
  3. Explain carbon cycle, carbon sources, sinks, etc.
  4. Compare/contrast human v. natural causes of climate disruption.
  5. Describe consequences (ecological, economic, social, etc.) of climate disruption.
  6. Describe global dimming/effects of aerosols.
  7. Describe some potential solutions to the climate change problem.


  1. How much do you spew? CO2
  2. Greenhouse Effect
  3. How Big is Your Footprint
  1. CO2 Sources Lab (car exhaust, vinegar and baking soda, breathing, with titration)
  2. NEED Carbon in My Life
  3. Greenhouse Gas Lab (tennis ball container containing methane, CO2, closed air, open air)
  4. CO2 and BTB in Respiration and PSN
  5. Tree Ring Analysis Lab.
  6. Albedo Lab
  7. Stabilization Wedges Game
  8. Bill Nye’s Climate Lab
  1. ATTEI Unit 2 Global Warming and Climate Change pdf
  2. NCCER Your Role in the Green Environment, Unit 1.0
  3. NEED Secondary Infobook, p.52
  4. “A Plan to Keep Carbon in Check,” Socolow and Pacala, 10/06
  5. “The Physical Science of Climate Change,” Collins, Coleman, et. al, 8/07
  6. Video: from the BBC (British)
  7. PBS: Nova-Dimming the Sun video
  8. An Inconvenient Truth
  9. Glenn’ Carbon Reduction Song
  10. C-learn climate simulation
  11. climate diplomat
  12. CEO2.


Energy Policy


  1. Describe key energy and environmental regulations (clean air, clean water, toxics, AB 32, etc.)
  2. Identify key regulatory agencies.
  3. Formulate a best mix plan for CA energy.
  1. Simulation Activity: Design an Energy Plan for California.
  1. Power up rules
  2. power up spreadsheet
  1. California Energy Commission
  2. California Public Utility Commission
  3. California Air Resources Board
  4. AB-32: Global Warming Solutions Act
  5. Thomas Friedman, The Power of Green, NYTimes, 4/15/2007

Your Role in Green Environment

PGE Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report


Final Projects/Presentations

Year Long themes/content

These are general skills and experiences that are common to multiple topics and also to subjects outside the the CTE class:

  1. Construction Math
  2. Communication skills
  3. Employability
  4. Time Management /Scheduling
  5. Journaling/ note taking
  6. Career Exploration

Energy Job of the Week

Students will research the following jobs and put together reports that cover:

  1. Job title
  2. minimum qualifications for the job (education/skills, etc.)
  3. salary range
  4. additional skills specific to the job
  5. Description of a typical day
  6. job growth potential/career advancement
  7. **comments from someone who has that job (extra credit)

List of jobs (to be put together by energy/industry partners)

Get Into Energy Website


Job Title

Industry Sector

On-line Energy Games and Resource Sites (Add more as you find them. Hyperlink each one to the original website and add a brief description.)





NEED Project “Career Currents” newsletter, careers in energy

NCCER Competencies and Objectives

NCCER Performance Tasks

California Consumer Energy Center (California Energy Commission)

PG&E’s educational programs

Pacific Energy Center

Building Technologies, Lawrence Berkeley Labs

California Institute for Energy & the Environment

California Independent System Operator (Grid)

Cal ISO Total System Electrical Status Graph (Realtime)

NEED - NCCER Pairings:

These are NEED titles that would go well with specific NCCER modules you may choose to use.

NCCER Modules

NEED Kits or Guides

Your Role in the Green Environment

Carbon in My Life

Climate Change Wedge Game

Intro to the Power Industry

Secondary Science of Energy Kit

Secondary Energy Infobooks

Secondary Infobook Activities

Mission Possible

Electrical Connections (pages 5-7)

Basic Safety

School Energy Survey

Intro to Construction Math

Energy Math Challenge

Intro to Hand Tools


Intro to Power Tools


Intro to Construction Drawings

Saving Energy at Home and School

Electric Safety

No NEED materials cover all objectives

Intro to Test Instruments

No NEED materials cover all objectives

Intro to Electric Circuits

Electro Works

Electric Theory

Electricity Section in Secondary Infobooks

Basic Electrical Construction Drawings


Solar Power

Secondary Photovoltaics Kit

Schools Going Solar

Wind Power

Exploring Wind Energy Kit

Applied Construction Math