Alternative Sources of Electrical Energy

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Alternative Sources of Electrical Energy

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Students will be able to differentiate between renewable and non-renewable methods of producing electrical energy


My school does not have the equipment to make electricity. However, the Big Little Science Centre is housed in our school and they have all the equipment necessary to do this. I take my students there to do try this activity. However, if a group of students chose to make an electrical generator as their question during the lesson on electromagnetic induction, I may just use that. Certainly, I would use it as an introduction.

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Make Electricity? Why?

Why do we use electricity? Ask the students to suggest why we should make electricity? Possible answers:

  • to make light
  • to make sound
  • to make machines - movement
  • to make microwaves

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Making electricity


  • two bar magnets
  • coil of electrical wire
  • two wires with crocodile clips
  • micrometer to test for current

Place the bar magnets facing each with opposite poles facing. Attach the wires to each end of the coil and attach to the micrometer. Move the magnet in between the bar magnets and watch for a current.

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Making electricity in Canada?


All we need to make electricity is a magnet, a coil of wire, and movement. The magnet and the coil of wire are fairly long lasting. Once in place,they will be useable for a long time. Movement is the big problem! How can we get the movement to take place?

Accept any suggestions the students come up with. Typically, they suggest an electric machine and hydroelectricity in my classroom. Some will suggest solar power or wind power.


Discuss their suggestions and find out why they suggested them. Explain the inherent problem behind using an electrical machine to produce movement to produce electricity. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each type they suggest.


Divide the class into groups of two or three and have them research, or use the textbook, to find as many other possibilities for getting the movement needed to produce electricity, including the advantages and disadvantages of each, as they can in 15 minutes. My class dislikes reading for information. They would much rather I just told them everything. I make this a competition and give small prizes for the winners in a couple of different categories, such as most examples, best advantages, disadvantages, the only group to find a possibility etc. This encourages them to actually read and find the information instead of waiting to get it from others during the class discussion.

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