Future generations

Future generations challenge

On the 21st September 2007, the Energy Futures Lab hosted schools from London and the South-East for the Engineering Centenary School Challenge, running an activity designed to engaged school children on the energy issues we face now and they will be facing in 10 or 20 years time. The day was kindly sponsored by Doosan Babcock and E.ON UK.

Some of the materials used for the schools challenge were part of E.ON UK's Energy Experience, a programme for teachers to help them teach young people about energy.

On this page we have gathered together a brief description of how the workshop ran.

Task 1: Where does Electricity come from?

Activity 1

Having selected a name, the teams are asked to brainstorm different sources that can be used to produce electricity. Each source is written onto a piece of card and is attached to a display board. Following that the children are given an energy flow diagram jigsaw and are asked to arrange this on a display board in the correct sequence, this explores electricity production from source to generation. The children then go back to the sources of electricity they brainstormed earlier and are asked to put them in an order that reflects their use in the UK.

Activity 2

Following a short round up, the children are split into two groups and are given a pack of energy technology Top Trump's cards to play with, this allows the children to get to know the technologies better and explore their pro's and con's, they are then asked to note down these pro's and con's in their Activity Booklet.

Task 2: How much Electricity do we need

The children are given the 'Apple powered Lightbulb' interactive presentation to complete. There are three stages to the presentation:

  1. It refreshes their memories with regards to what a watt, as an energy unit, is.
  2. The scale up from watts to megawatts and what that means in real terms, e.g. how much the UK uses.
  3. The fluctations in energy demand over the day.

During the presentation they are asked to build a light bulb box, a 5cm3 cardboard box that represents one 100w lightbulb, this provides tactile stimulation when thinking about the scale up from watts to megawatts.

Task 3: Powering the UK in 10 Years

Using the Excel spreadsheet, the children are asked to develop a portfolio of energy technologies which they would like to use to generate 10,000MW (20%) of power for the UK in 2017. This portfolio has restaints upon them with regards to CO2 production, cost and amount of power outage. There is no correct answer, but the groups must be able to justify their decisions. Once they have reached a solution, the groups record it on both their large sheets and their individual Activity Booklets

Task 4: Powering the UK in 50 Years

The marketplace is populated by researchers from different technologies that they are developing e.g. carbon capture and storage, dye-sensitised solar cells, biofuels, and they must champion their technology to the children. The children walk around the marketplace talking to the technology champions in order to understand their future.

Following the marketplace, the children then go back to their computers and complete the spreadsheet for the second time, there is a separate model for the 2057 simulation, on the same spreadsheet, with different boundaries. This time they are asked to generate 50,000MW (100%) of the power or they can reduce the demand, again they are required to justify the decisions behind their choices and translate it onto their large sheet and their Activity Booklet.

The children are then given a small amount of time to prepare a presentation of their choices and the teachers and Energy Mentors are asked to vote for their favourite with prizes awarded accordingly

Energy Futures Lab would like to thank Mr Alfred Li, our work experience students Tom, David and Anu, and the College for their help.