This interactive diagram from the National Academy of Sciences shows how we rely on a variety of primary energy sources (solar, nuclear, hydro, wind, geothermal, natural gas, coal, biomass, oil) to supply energy to four end-use sectors (residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation). It also focuses on lost or degraded energy.

This is a long-term inquiry activity in which students investigate locations they believe harbor cellulose-digesting microbes, collect samples, isolate them on selective media, and screen them for cellulase activity. These novel microbes may be useful for the production of cellulosic ethanol. In the process they learn about plating techniques, serial dilutions, symbiotic relationships and enzyme specificity. Two methods are provided, one focusing on isolation of pure microbial strains, the other focusing on finding symbiotic communities of microbes.

This is a hands-on inquiry activity using zip-lock plastic bags that allows students to observe the process of fermentation and the challenge of producing ethanol from cellulosic sources. Students are asked to predict outcomes and check their observations with their predictions. Teachers can easily adapt to materials and specific classroom issues.

This short video touches briefly on the future of global energy and which energy sources best meet four energy-choice criteria: affordable, available, reliable, and clean.

This video stitches together nine separate videos about energy sources (hydro, coal, geothermal, nuclear, wind, biofuels, solar, natural gas, and oil) from the Switch Energy site. Videos can be viewed as a group, or separately, each under their own title.

This video is one of a series produced by the Switch Energy project. It highlights the use of biofuels as a renewable source of energy.

This hands-on activity introduces students to the process of fermenting different carbohydrate sources into ethanol. Teachers demonstrate yeasts' inability to metabolize certain food sources.

In this video, students explore the work of Jay Keasling, a synthetic biologist experimenting with ways to produce a cleaner-burning fuel from biological matter, using genetically modified microorganisms.

This video is one of a series of videos from the Switch Energy project. It describes three types of geothermal sources -- rare ones in which high temperatures are naturally concentrated near the surface, deep wells that require fracturing the rock and then circulating water to bring heat to the surface, and low temperature sources that use constant temperatures just below the surface to heat or cool a building. The latter two are more widely available but cost-prohibitive today.

In this activity, students conduct a life cycle assessment of energy used and produced in ethanol production, and a life cycle assessment of carbon dioxide used and produced in ethanol production.

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