Alt Text

S1 Energy Course Plan


Curriculum Area Curriculum for Excellence ‘Benchmark’ Activity
sources and sustainability
Applies knowledge from practical investigations to explain how heat is transferred by conduction, convection and radiation.


Establishes a link between heat loss in buildings and the temperature difference between the inside and outside of the building.


Applies understanding of thermal energy efficiency, conductors and insulators to explain how materials can be used in building design to reduce heat loss, for example, in double and triple glazing.


Different materials conduct heat differently – experiment to investigate the conduction of heat by different materials, either using the conductivity bars and hot water or the conductivity bars, metal tacks and Vaseline.


Pupils should be aware of which materials conduct heat and which materials do not conduct heat.  Experiment to investigate that air is an insulator.



The idea of heat transfer by convection should be introduced for fluids (gasses and liquids).  Pupils should be aware of the idea of convection currents and examples of convection currents.


An experiment can be carried out using potassium permanganate in water (small crystal at corner of beaker) heated with Bunsen burner to show the convection current set up in the water.  This can also be done using the convection tubes either as a group experiment or as a demonstration. Convection in gasses can also be demonstrated using the smoke box.



The final method of heat transfer should be covered with emphasis on the idea that radiation does not need a medium to transfer through.  Pupils can discuss the methods of heat transfer for the sun’s energy reaching us on Earth.


The Leslie’s Cube experiment can be used to show different colours of material radiate different amounts of heat.


Thermal energy efficiency:

A summary of the three methods of heat transfer can be used to introduce how heat transfer can be reduced to reduce heat loss:

·         Conduction:  through materials

·         Convection:  through fluids, upwards

·         Radiation:  no material required.


Group activity to consider how we keep warm at home, how we keep our homes warm and how we keep warm outside:  what methods do we use to prevent heat loss?


A series of investigations can be carried out to investigate methods of preventing heat loss.  These include:

·         Different insulations, e.g. effect of thickness

·         Double glazing

·         Use of foil (radiation prevention)


Pupils should investigate different methods of preventing heat loss to make our homes more energy efficient while still remaining warm.


sources and sustainability 


Presents research findings on the advantages and disadvantages associated with the use of renewable energy sources and their impact on society, demonstrating an informed view based on evidence. Generating electricity:

Electricity can be generated by moving a permanent magnet inside a coil of wire – a simple demonstration can be set up to show this.  Varying the speed of the magnet movement can be included to show how the electricity produced can be varied as this will lead into the concepts of wind turbines and linking blade speed to electricity production.


This can be extended to the production of electricity using a desk fan – connect oscilloscope to line and neutral pins of a plug and spin the fan blades.  This gives the natural progression to wind turbines for the investigation that follows.


Renewable energy:

This section is to introduce the different renewable energy sources which are then investigated in further lessons by means of experiment or online investigations, culminating in a group learning activity where suitable renewable energy solutions are to be chosen for a given environment.


The following renewable energy sources should be introduced:

·         Wind

·         Wave

·         Tidal

·         Solar

·         Biomass (optional)


General advantages of renewable energy should be discussed at this stage prior to investigating specific types of renewable energy.


Pupils can also use the energy source cards to sort between renewable and non-renewable sources.


Solar power:

Pupils should know the main energy transfer in a solar cell as light energy to electrical energy.  Potential group activity to discuss factors that may affect the electrical energy supplied by a solar cell.


Pupils can then carry out a series of investigations to investigate factors affecting a solar cell:

·         Light Intensity (Distance to Source)

·         Solar Cell Inclination Angle

·         Solar Cell Area

These investigations can be carried out as Outcome 1 investigations.  Detailed instructions given in Energy Pupil Book.


Wind power:

Pupils should know that the main energy transfer for a wind turbine is kinetic energy to electrical energy.  Links can be made to the turbine in a thermal power station


Two investigations can be carried out by pupils to investigate the energy output of a basic wind turbine:

·         Number of blades

·         Wind speed (Distance from source)


An alternative wind turbine can be used to look at blade area and blade pitch.


Energy Solutions:

This group task is the culmination of the previous lessons on renewable energy where pupils should work as groups to form an energy company and decide on the best energy solution for a specific geographical situation.


Pupils should first work in groups to form their energy company.  Four main types of renewable energy should then be summarised using the fact sheets so pupils can make informed choices for their geographical location – use the fact sheets.  Pupils can also use the information from their investigations to support their knowledge of different renewable sources.


Pupils should then be issued with a location and they must choose an appropriate renewable energy for this location.  Alternatively, pupils can decide which energy source they wish to represent and then be given the company task card for this energy source for completion.



Curriculum Area Curriculum for Excellence ‘Benchmark’ Activity




Applies knowledge from practical investigations to describe the similarities and differences between series and parallel circuits and explain the advantages of parallel circuits in an everyday application.
















Gives examples of how skills developed through science are used in a wide variety of jobs and careers including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.


Collaborates with others to research how scientists, and those who use science in their jobs, have contributed to the development of scientific ideas.

The basic concept of a series circuit should be introduced at this stage – a circuit with only one loop.  Current can only flow one way round the circuit.


Two experiments to investigate the properties of a series circuit:

·         Current in a series circuit:  demonstrate that current is the same at all points in a series circuit.

·         Voltage in a series circuit:  demonstrate that voltage is split in a series circuit and adds up to the total voltage.


As an applied problem solving and numeracy task, problems involving currents and voltages in a series circuit can be carried out – see Energy Book.


The basic concept of a parallel circuit should be introduced at this stage – a circuit with more than one loop, allowing current to flow around different paths.


Two experiment to investigate the properties of a parallel circuit:

·         Current in the loops vs. total drawn current to demonstrate that current splits in a parallel circuit.

Voltage is the same across all loops of a parallel circuit.

This section will summarise the application of series and parallel circuits from above.


A demonstration using bulbs (say three) connected to a power supply in both series and parallel can be used to show in which circuit the bulbs are brighter, and the effects of “breaking” one of the bulbs (removal from holder) on each of the circuits:  pupils should be aware that in a series circuit a single break will affect the whole circuit, while in a parallel circuit it will only affect the loop where the break occurs.


This can be then be used to discuss practical applications of circuits, including:

·         Christmas tree lights

·         Car lighting circuits



Lesson insert form My World of Work (pdf).