How, When, and What to Teach About Energy

Energy is the driving force of life and often explained as the capacity to do work. Everything that surrounds us needs energy to operate. However, all the electricity around us, fuel for transportation, gas for cooking… where does it come from? Is it unlimited? How should we use energy? These are the significant questions that elementary and middle school students come across in class!

A good start point when teaching these concepts is to understand that never it is too early to acquire good habits.”

From when they are babies, children are told not to touch plugs, buttons, or heaters when they are on. Children learn by imitating and watching, so parents must set the example with their behavior, turning lights off as well as other appliances when leaving the room. Also, verbalizing these actions is necessary so that children pay attention and start to internalize these good energy saving habits.

Before they are 9 or 10 years old, children cannot understand the reasons why it is necessary to save energy nor simply what energy is, but they can learn they have to turn off their appliances after using them.”

Energy, in all its forms, is an abstract concept because we cannot see it. According to Piaget’s ideas about cognitive development, we should not teach this concept until the age of 12, when students have developed the ability for abstract thinking. Nevertheless, in an earlier stage, (between 7 and 11 years of age), children can understand certain phenomena around them. Therefore, when dealing with energy, which is introduced in the educational curriculum in 3rd grade, you can talk about the multiple forms of energy we can observe, like light, wind, or heat.

It may be difficult to create meaningful lessons on the sources of energy to students this age because the sources are very far away from their everyday lives. To make these sources more familiar, students may want to visit an electric plant, gas and petrol plants, or solar panel fields or aerogenerators.

The topic about sources of energy might be too hard to create a meaningful learning because these sources are very far away from the daily scenes of the students. To make these sources more familiar, students can visit electric plants, gas and petrol plants or solar panel fields or aerogenerators.

Thanks to Elesapiens’ diverse content, you will be able to explore these concepts and how they relate to sustainability in a visual and fun way. You will find activities to explain the main stages of energy production (generation, transportation, storage, and consumption) and to reinforce the understanding of energy forms as well as the transformation of solar energy through several experiments and offline activities.

See below for a great selection of activities related to energy!

Video: Where Does Energy Live?

An animated video that explains in clear and powerful language the different sources of energy, linking them to the forms of energy they produce.

Document: Forms of Energy

A printable poster that features the main forms of energy in our daily lives.

Testing: Where Does Energy Live? 

An interactive 10 question test to evaluate and review the main concepts of energy.

Offline Activity: Controlling your Energy

An activity designed to understand how much energy a human being can produce by himself and what he can achieve with it.

Online Activity: The Journey of Energy

A game designed for students to understand and differentiate between the different manifestations of energy.

Document: From the Sun to everywhere else

Infographics which show the energy cycle in a visual and didactic way.

Discover more bilingual content about science and all kinds of interactive teaching resources to use in your lessons by signing up at

Leave a Reply