Sankey (or Spaghetti) diagrams parse out the energy flow by state, based on 2008 data from the Dept. of Energy. These diagrams can help bring a local perspective to energy consumption. The estimates include rejected or lost energy but don't necessarily include losses at the ultimate user end that are due to lack of insulation.
This video segment from the Earth Operators Manual summarizes how fossil fuels are made, provides a comparison of how long it takes to store energy in coal, oil and natural gas, and discusses how fast we're using them.
This is a laboratory activity in which students will compare the amount of carbon dioxide in four different sources of gas and determine the carbon dioxide contribution from automobiles. They test ambient air, human exhalation, automobile exhaust, and nearly pure carbon dioxide from a vinegar/baking soda mixture.
This is a team-based activity that teaches students about the scale of the greenhouse gas problem and the technologies that already exist which can dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Students select carbon-cutting strategies to construct a carbon mitigation profile, filling in the wedges of a climate stabilization triangle.
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 semester-long jigsaw project in which students work in teams to explore the effects of energy resource development on local water resources, economics, and society. Students are presented with a contemporary energy resource development issue being debated in their community. They research the water, geological, economic, and social impact of the project, and then either defend or support the development proposal.
Students use Google Earth to analyze oil consumption per capita in the US and around the world. Students then use spreadsheets to create graphs and calculate statistics regarding per capita energy use among various categories.
In this short activity, students or groups are tasked to make concept sketches that track the source of electrical power as far back as they can conceive. The concept sketches reveal students' prior conceptions of the power grid and energy mix, and lead naturally into a lesson or discussion about energy resources and power production.