Making the Most of Energy: Insulate It!

Amy Crispin, Sunny Brae Middle School     Dave Haller, Freshwater School     Greg Stackhouse, Pacific Union School    Jessie Hobba, Sunny Brae Middle School        Mark Huschle, Pacific Union School     Nick Dedini, Jacoby Creek School     Tyler Vack, Trinidad School

This energy use curriculum, designed for students in grades 6-8, teaches concepts related to energy, energy transfer, and energy efficiency through a series of hands-on activities. While there are many options for shortening and lengthening lessons, teaching the full module will require about 3 weeks of class time.


  • define terms such as:  energy, heat, conduction, insulation, watt, KWh, and energy efficiency
  • understand differences between renewable/nonrenewable energy sources
  • classify energy forms as kinetic or potential
  • understand that energy can not be created or destroyed
  • Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.

Lesson Series – Click on lesson to download lesson plans and other files for teaching the lesson.

Lesson 1: Period of No Power and Power Percentages: Students participate in a “Day without power” and record personal energy use at home over a 24 hour period.

Lesson 2: The Science of Energy: Conservation of energy is taught via demonstrations and hands-on activities.

Lesson 3: Energy Audit: Students use Prop 39 energy audit of their school and observations to identify ways to reduce energy consumption.

Lesson 4: Design a Thermos: Students follow the engineering design process and recycled materials to design a thermos to keep water hot.

Lesson 5: Light Bulb Comparison Lab: Incandescent, CFL, and LED lightbulbs are compared with thermometers and Kill-a-Watt meters to compare their energy use and heat loss.

Lesson 6: Thermal Imaging of the Classroom: Students investigate the classroom using infrared thermometers to determine where heat is being lost.

Lesson 7: Extensions: Ideas for further exploration of the topic.

Resources: Includes additional applicable resources, pre/post assessment, etc.

Energy Use by nigo Skies Photography/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)