Understanding Electric Power Generation

Time Required
2 class periods
Students will learn about the environmental, economic and social trade-offs of electrical power generation technologies.
Slide Deck


This lesson introduces students to the nine primary sources of energy used in the United States. Students will gain an understanding of how we convert energy into usable electricity through exploration of energy source tradeoffs, class discussions, and student worksheets.

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS2.A Forces and Motion
  • PS2.B Types of Interactions
  • PS3.A Definitions of Energy
  • PS3.B Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
  • PS3.C Relationship Between Energy and Forces
  • ETS1.A Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem

Cross Cutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect
  • Energy and Matter
  • Patterns

Learning Objectives

At the end of the lesson students will be able to

  • Understand the concept of energy carriers
  • Be able to explain why electricity is an energy carrier and not a primary energy source
  • Be able to explain how electricity is generated and transmitted
  • Be able to list the primary sources of energy that are used for electric power generation
  • Be able to compare and contrast advantages and disadvantages of coal vs. wind electric power generation
  • Understand the advantages and disadvantages of the primary sources of energy used for electric power generation


  • Student reading passages and student worksheets

Additonal Teaching Resources