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  • Writer's pictureYouth Energy Squad

Our energy

Context: Physical energy is all around us. From cars, to lights, to in-home heating systems, to the wall outlets we charge our phones on, energy is something most of us use almost constantly on an everyday basis. Being quarantined at home causes extra stress on the systems that heat and provide electricity to our homes because we are all spending more time there. This activity will provide a hands-on way to learn about how the energy systems in Detroit work.


Goals: Grade Level: 3rd-6th

  • Understand where Detroit’s energy comes from

  • Understand the difference between types of energy sources

Supplies: Time: 1 hour

  • Pencil

  • Paper

  • Internet 

  • Scissors (Optional)

  • Tape (Optional)

  • Light Bulb (Optional)



Energy is a complicated scientific subject that has many definitions. For this activity, the definition is...

Energy: power derived from physical or chemical resources, usually to provide light and heat or to work machines (from Oxford Languages)

Natural Resource: materials or substances such as minerals, trees, water, and land that occur in nature and can be used for economic gain or human needs

Renewable Resource: a resource that will never run out, no matter how much we use it

Nonrenewable Resource: a resource that would run out eventually if we keep using it


Respond to these following questions, then check your answers at the last page.

  1. How do you think Detroit’s energy system works? Draw a picture, a diagram, or simply write your response.

2.Draw a circle around the renewable energy sources listed below. Draw a circle around the non renewable energy sources listed below.

Coal --- Natural Gas --- Wind --- Solar --- Oil 

3. Which is better for the environment: using renewable resources or using nonrenewable resources? Why?

4.Does Detroit’s energy come from renewable or nonrenewable resources? Why do you think so?

5.From what resource in particular does most of Detroit’s energy for heat come from? Hint: Use the list above

6. From what resource in particular does most of Detroit’s energy for electricity come from? Hint: Use the list above


Watch this video: to see how you can make a model of all of the nonrenewable energy resources.



Watch this video: to see how coal is turned into energy for electricity in our homes.


Wind and solar are renewable energy sources. We will always be able to depend on the sun to shine and wind to blow in order to create energy.

Coal, natural gas, and oil are nonrenewable energy sources. If we keep using these resources, they will eventually run out.

3. Using renewable resources is far better for the environment than using nonrenewable resources. Renewable resources can usually be used without causing significant harm to our natural systems. Nonrenewable resources must be burned in order to produce energy. Burning these resources causes chemical reactions that pollute our air, and can pollute our water if not handled properly. This is harmful to humans and animals.


Detroit’s energy comes mostly from nonrenewable resources. Most energy in the United States comes from nonrenewable sources, though renewable energy is becoming more and more common.


Most of Detroit’s energy for heat comes from natural gas.


Most of Detroit’s energy for electricity comes from coal.

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