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Hot Mess


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering

Regional Focus



YouTube Video

Essentials of Environmental Science: How We Make Energy

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  • This video explains how humans use a variety of energy sources to produce electrical power.
  • Students will learn how non-renewable energy sources (oil, coal, natural gas, and nuclear fission) and renewable energy sources (wind, hydropower, geothermal, and solar) impact the environment differently.
Teaching Tips


  • The infograph presented (at 3 minutes, 20 seconds) provides an excellent visual overview of both types of energy sources and how they produce electricity. 
  • This video provides a straightforward introduction to many types of energy sources, how they are sourced, and the effects they have on the environment.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Advertisements play at the beginning and the mid-point of the video.
  • They do not mention tidal power or kinetic power sources (such as kinetic energy tiles and surfaces) that are currently in development or in use in some locations.
  • This video is a part of the Hot Mess video series, Essentials of Environmental Science.


  • Science and social studies classes could discuss the costs of these different types of energy that are not accounted for, such as the costs to human health through air pollution and water pollution, or the costs of losing drinking water and land to steam plants, mining operations, pipelines, and waste disposal sites.
  • Physics classes could learn more about nuclear fission with this Kurzgesagt - In a Nutshell video and then discuss whether the safeguards in nuclear power plants provide enough protection from possible catastrophes. 
  • Other resources on this topic include this e-book on renewable energy, this interactive map of energy infrastructure in the United States, and this text on nonrenewable energy.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a 22-minute video that presents a rather comprehensive overview of energy production methods. After introducing the basics of energy physics, this resource examines in detail energy production from fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and renewable energy sources. This resource does not shy away from jargon, but does an excellent job explaining terminology and making the topic approachable. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • 7.ESS2.1 Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth’s materials and the flow of energy that drives this process.
      • 7.ESS2.2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth’s surface at varying time and spatial scales.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 6.ESS3.5 Ask clarifying questions based on evidence about the factors that have caused climate change over the past century.
      • HS.ESS3.1 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
      • HS.ESS3.3 Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among the management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
      • HS.ESS3.6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity (i.e., climate change).
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS.LS2.7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
  • Social Sciences
    • Economics (K-8)
      • 7.8 Examine how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society.
    • Geography (K-12)
      • HS.47 Assess the impact of human settlement activities on the environmental and cultural characteristics of specific places and regions.
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