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Energy Pathways  

SunChaser2 Curriculum


The purpose of this curriculum is to provide an exciting, hands-on, and comprehensive introduction to the concept of energy and its uses that can be presented to a group of students in a short time (1-2 hours) in conjunction with the SunChaser2 mobile education unit. Instead of exposing students to a rapid fire succession of disconnected or irrelevant facts, this curriculum instead strives to lead students to trace out the three primary paths by which energy flows in our world, and illustrate the differences. Students are lead wherever possible by asking them a series of questions and providing them with hands-on examples.

Table of Contents


Energy Types, Transport, Conservation, and Transformations

Sun --> Plants (photosynthesis) --> Animals --> Heat 

Sun --> Ancient Plants and Animals --> Fossil Fuels

--> Turbines/Engines --> Electrical Devices --> Heat

Sun --> Wind/Water/Light --> Collectors --> Storage

--> Efficient Devices --> Heat


For classroom presentations of the biological and fossil fuel pathways, you will need:

Materials that accompany the SunChaser2 used for presentation of the renewable energy pathway include:

What is Energy?

The Biological Pathway:

(Presented in the classroom - see materials list above)

The Fossil Fuel Pathway:

(Presented in the classroom - see materials list above)

(A coal-fired power plant in New Mexico)

The Renewable Energy Pathway:

 (with the SunChaser2)



  1. What are the three energy pathways?
  2. Where does all the energy in these pathways initially come from?
  3. Where does most of the energy eventually go?
  4. What does "photo" mean?
  5. How do plants get their energy? 
  6. Where did the energy of your body ultimately come from?
  7. How does the Sun get its energy?
  8. How do power plants get their energy?
  9. Where does coal come from?
  10. What is good about burning coal?
  11. What is bad about burning coal?
  12. What is renewable energy?
  13. What is nonrenewable energy?
  14. What kinds of energy can solar panels provide?
  15. What are solar panels that produce electricity called?
  16. What are solar panels that produce hot water called?
  17. What is the greenhouse effect?
  18. How does the Sunoven achieve a greenhouse effect? 
  19. How does the Sun move in the sky in the winter and the summer?
  20. What three things do you need to heat your house with the Sun in the winter but keep it cool in the summer?

Created by Benjamin Luce for NMSEA, 2000.

NM Solar Energy Association 2000. This material may be used without permission for nonprofit educational purposes only, and only if used in unaltered form, including deletions.

Date of last revision: 02/16/01