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Title:  When the Lights Go Out!
Level:  Primary, Middle
Time:  2 Class Periods


Students will identify coal as the primary fuel used to generate electricity.

Background Information:

  1. Coal is used to generate over one-half of the United States’ electricity.
  2. Demand for electricity continues to increase with the increased use of microelectronics and power electronics equipment.
  3. There are trade-offs in using one energy source over another.


  1. Worksheets
  2. Pencils


  1. After discussing coal's use in the generation of electricity, have students complete "When the Light Go Out" worksheet.
  2. Have students share what they wrote and summarize.
  3. Assign “My Two Hours Without Electricity” worksheet.
  4. Review worksheet with class the next day.  Ask students if their earlier written predictions came true and how they felt about being without electricity for only a faction of a day.  Ask students how they might better conserve electricity.

When the Lights Go Out! Worksheet

Name:     Date:  

Our way of life has become increasingly dependent on electricity.  It seems that the electric meter on the side of the house is constantly spinning.  Electricity is a source of energy.  If you use electricity, you are using coal because coal generates over one-half of the electricity consumed in America each day, far more than any other energy source.  We have appliances and machines that change electrical energy into other forms of energy, and then they do work for us.

But what would it be like if the power was turned off and there was no electricity?  Would our lifestyle be just like the lifestyles of about a hundred years ago?  Would you be able to survive?

Write a paragraph explaining what would happen to life in your home if the electricity was turned off.  List what changes would have to be made.  Tell what innovations you could come up with that would replace the electricity entering your home from your power company.

My Two Hours Without Electricity Worksheet

Name:     Date:  
Time period I went without using electricity:    

During this time I did not use the following that I normally would have if I had electricity.

garage door opener
video games
alarm clock
washing machine
coffee maker
shower (electric hot water heater)
oven/stove (electric)
clothes dryer (electric)
can opener

Instead I ..... (Explain what you did during your two hour period without electricity.)


This made me feel ..... (How did you feel about going without electricity?)


I now realize that electricity ..... (What do you think about electricity now?  Is it more important to you or less?  Why?)


To conserve electricity at home I can ..... (What things can you do at home to avoid "wasting electricity?)