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5th-Alternative Energy

Texas is sixth place in the nation in energy consumption per person, and, as of 2013, Texas was the number one state in electricity production through wind power. The open plains with high winds make ideal locations for windmills, hundreds of which are visible from the highways crossing west Texas. The El Paso-Ciudad Juarez region has become a wind manufacturing site. For more than twenty-five years, Johnson Plate & Tower Fabrication in El Paso has manufactured wind turbine towers. VienTek in Ciudad Juárez produces wind blades at two locations and their extra-long trailers carrying 80 foot windmill blades are a common sight.

The area's intense sunshine makes generating solar energy possible. Government rebates are incentives for using solar energy and several homes, businesses, and are moving toward using more solar produced energy. There are also several industries making bio diesel from left-over farm products such as cotton seeds. These are mostly sold to mix with gasoline. One plant uses the energy in green algae to create electricity.

The teachers implemented a series of activities that allow students to experience various alternative ways that electricity is produced. Then they designed actions to reduce energy use at their schools.

Teachers: Amy Canales, Roxanne Ramos, Theresa Turner, Blanche Herrera


  • An electric generator is a coil of wire (usually copper) moving inside a magnetic field. The magnetic field excites the electrons in the wire and make them flow, creating electricity.
  • Energy sources that turn a generator can create electricity. These sources can come from burning fossil fuels, turning windmill blades, and harnessing the sun's power to create heat or excite electrons.
  • Thousands of tons of fossil fuels are burned across the globe to create the energy to turn the generator. This burning creates pollution, and the fossil fuels are not renewable.
  • Alternatives to fossil fuels include renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and bio fuels. Energy from these alternatives can also turn the generator. They are not perfect sources of energy, but they cause less pollution.

NOTE: Generating electricity and sources of energy (fossil fuels and alternatives) are extremely complex concepts. The fifth graders will explore these concepts at an introductory level.

5th Introduction

5th Background Information

5th Inquiry Activities